The Ultimate Checklist For Cats And Car Travel
They are regarded as complete and utter roamers, so to suggest that cats like to travel in the car would be a huge misconception. In fact, the vast majority don’t enjoy it in the slightest – and expecting that they will just acclimatize to it like a duck to water is just not realistic.
As such, you need to get your house in order before you start to even consider traveling with your cat in the car. We’ll now take a look at some of the core steps you can take to achieve this and just make life much easier for the two of you.
Prepare your cat from a young age
This is probably one of the simplest pieces of advice to follow, for the only reason it is used with most domestic pets. Whether you have a cat or dog, if you are attempting to get them used to a “different” experience, doing it from a very young age is the very best thing you can do.
It’s at these very young ages when animals can adapt to new experiences much more easily. To put a number on it, if you can start to get your cat used to traveling in a car before they reach 9 weeks, you’ll be well on your way to success.
Of course, we’re by no means suggesting that you should embark on huge trips during this period. Merely going on small drives will suffice and will get them to that elusive point where they no longer fear driving.
Leaving those first experiences until the cat is an adult is asking for trouble – they will just struggle to adapt to the experience.
Your cat needs to get used to the carrier
Again, this is advice which is probably bordering on the obvious. A cat carrier is the main piece of equipment when traveling by car so unsurprisingly, they need to get used to this pretty quickly.
Buying it early should be par for the course, but what a lot of owners don’t realize is that you should also introduce it in your home environment. If you can place it in your living area, so your cat can venture in and out at their free will, they will gradually start to accept it.
As well as the above, it’s important to get the carrier to smell “like it should”. In other words, it needs to feel like home for your cat – and this means that you should remove any smells or dust from it long before you venture out on a trip. Some people also swear by Feliway, which can be sprayed in the carrier with the aim of making it feel more inviting for your cat.
Your veterinarian might be able to help
We’ll keep this section quite basic, as the advice is going to vary between cases. However, it’s not been unheard of for veterinarians to help out with this issue – usually in the form of medication. There are certain types out there which can make car journeys much less stressful for your cat; whether this is related to anxiety or motion sickness.
Some owners may acquire such medication, but only use it as a backup. This usually occurs for those journeys which tend to be long and potentially troublesome.
Breaks are paramount
Some people would prefer to get the journey over and done with in record speeds, which is an understandable philosophy. When traveling with your cat you do need to rethink this strategy though and frequent breaks should most definitely be on the agenda.
When we define frequent, we’re really just talking about a stop every few hours. It’s not going to impact your journey time substantially, but it will help your cat no-end.
When the time to stop does arrive, just allow your cat to come out of its carrier. A degree of caution should be exercised at this point, as some cats might have been scared from the traveling and try to escape. If you do leave the car, with your cat inside, ensure that the temperature is acceptable and they are not subjected to excess sun.
The must-take items
So far, we’ve spoken a lot about the cat carrier. Of course, this is for good reason – under no circumstances should your cat be sat on the passenger seat. This is purely for safety reasons as if they are just left on a seat all sorts of things can go wrong should emergency strike. The beauty of a cat carrier means that it doesn’t slide around (as its fixed to your car), and eradicates all such safety concerns.
However, as well as the carrier, there are other considerations. Let’s take a look at some of the other equipment you will need to take.
- Bedding and toys – You’ve effectively taken a bed in the form of the carrier, so this next suggestion won’t come as a surprise in the slightest. As a lot of this guide has highlighted, one of the best ways to increase the chances of a successful car journey is to make your cat feel as much at home as possible. Bedding achieves this, while toys can also have the same effect as well as providing some much-needed stimulation during those times of boredom.
- Water and food – You’re on the move, but don’t let that make you forget about the essentials. Again, it’s all about keeping things as normal as possible – and normal feeding times are part of this. Water should always be on hand, so make sure both bowls are packed as well.
- Litter – This is one area where things won’t be exactly the same as at home, as you won’t be carting your litter box along your journey. Nevertheless, you will need some form of litter and again the best piece of advice is to stick to your usual type. Disposable litter trays are easy to get hold of so bring some of these along for portability.