Traveling with a cat can stressful for both you and your kitty, but there are some things you can do to ease the anxiety. Making your cat feel more secure will go a long way to improving your won travel experience.
Several things can help: continuous reassurance for one, getting your cat used to the travel experience is another, and nonprescription remedies, or in some cases, prescription medication.
For most cats who are not used to regular travel, travel equals anxiety.
In some cases, just getting a cat into a carrier can result in blood loss.
Since most of us don't own a suit of armor, reducing your cat's anxiety is a self-preservation exercise, if nothing else.
To ease both your anxiety and your cat's, as the Boy Scouts say, "be prepared." Cats that travel well are generally well-socialized and already used to the travel experience. Some are leash trained.
So, it can be helpful not only to prepare yourself for the journey, but also to acclimate your cat to car travel. Many cats only ride in the car during stressful events... visits to the veterinarian, the groomer, moving from one home to another, or going to see the "Auntie" who has a dog your cat can't stand to be around.
Many cats are only put into their carriers during these times. Many cats don't even see the carrier until it's time to go to the vet.
And what happens? The amazing vanishing cat!
We may think we're doing our cats a favor by hiding the carrier away from them until it's time to go for one of these horrific rides. Unfortunately, that may actually increase the anxiety, and as soon as the carrier comes out, it's time to hide under the bed.
In truth, usually your cat knows before you do that he carrier is coming out, and is already hiding. We often think that cats can predict events, but more likely it's probably that your cat is sensing your anxiety over the event.
Below are several things you can do that are specific to travel anxiety:
Travel puts an extra stress burden on your kitty, and longer car rides can be especially stressful. If Rescue Remedy and Feliway don't do the trick to calm your cat, your vet can prescribe a mild tranquilizer... something like kitty Valium.
I don't like giving medication when it's not necessary, but there may be times when it's called for. I used this type of medication only once, at the beginning of a long trip across several states.
Some cat health problems may prevent your cat from taking these medications, so make sure you've got your cat's full medical history correct. The best vet to prescribe these medications is obviously your regular vet, but this is not always possible, especially in the case of emergency trips.
If your cat is healthy enough to take them, medication for anxiety can be especially helpful for:
If you ease your cat into it and take regular car rides together, traveling with your cat may become more enjoyable for the both of you!
Do you have experience traveling with a cat? Submit your stories, ideas, and tips.