In this post, we discuss tips on how to travel in a car with a cat so that you can make the experience easier for you and your pet.
There will be times where you will need to transport your cat with you in your car. The problem is, unlike dogs, cats are not well known for enjoying rides in the car.
Cats do not travel well. They enjoy their routines and the safety of their home and territory. Cats don’t like changes.
If you’re just going on a vacation, we don’t recommend that you even try to take your cat with you. Cat sitting services are well suited to your cat, who will enjoy the safety of her familiar territory and in-home pet sitting.
Why Cats Hate Cars
For starters, most cats have very bad associations with cars. Their first and often only experiences with cars are usually unpleasant.
Their first experience in a car is usually when they are taken away from the only home they’ve ever known.
The second is usually being taken to the vet. And often, that’s the only experiences they’ll have. Nothing about them make your cat want to go on another car ride.
The challenge is to help your cat build a more positive association with your car. You will have to spend some time conditioning them to associate your car with positive experiences.
Tips for Car Travel with a Cat
Your cat should always travel inside a pet carrier while in a car. A cat roaming around in the car is a distraction to the driver and can be dangerous. An accident could send your cat flying or get them crushed by an airbag. Crate train your cat ahead of any planned trips.
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Make sure your cat has identification in case they make a quick escape from the car. You might think you’ll be able to stop them or they won’t try to run but you would feel very bad if that happened and your cat would likely be terrified as well.
Allow your cat to wander around and rub their scent in the car before a trip. Before doing this, move their bed or a toy or favorite blanket into the car so it gives them something familiar. Get inside the car with your cat, close the door, and let him sniff and explore for five minutes before taking them back into the home. Do this five-minute car visit a couple times a day for a few days before leaving on a trip.
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When your cat is starting to appear more comfortable in the car, give them a few meals in the car, or offer high-quality treats that your cat wouldn’t normally receive. If your cat is a big fan of catnip, you can use that as well. You want to begin having them associate special things with being in the car.
You should introduce the pet carrier when your cat has shown that they are becoming more comfortable in the car. Set it the carrier on the back seat and start the car. Then turn off the motor and get out without going anywhere. You should repeat this a few times a day until they are used to this activity. Give them a reward when it’s time to get out of the car.
Eventually, you should be able to back the car to the end of the driveway with your cat inside. Do this two or three times in a row, and then let them out after your return. If your cat shows signs of stress, you may need to slow it down a little. This can take awhile. When they are used to a trip to the end of the driveway, expand it to a trip around the block and then after that, around the neighborhood.