Tips on how to make your cat enjoy car travel
Is cat travel possible or is it better for kitty to stay back home while you’re on a 2 week road trip? The answer is: it depends on your cat. Travelling by car with your cat is possible, but it requires preparation. If you are a cat owner who can’t live without your cat during the vacation, then there are some things you must practice before you force your cat to get into a car.
Why cats hate car rides?
It’s simple – cats don’t like new things and changing their everyday routine makes them angry. If your cat’s biggest excitement is to get out on the balcony and try to hunt a pigeon, then driving around in a car for hundreds of miles will make it nervous for sure. You need to understand this and stop pushing your cat to do something that you would like it to do. A car ride for a cat means taking it away from its mom or taking it to the scary vet station.
The two bad memories have something to do with your car. So, when you’re trying to make your cat sit calmly on the back seat, get ready for some mayhem as soon as the engine starts. Be patient with your cat and teach it that the car is not a scary place to be. The teaching process can be longer than you may be expecting, but if you want your favorite paws with you in the car, you need to try it.
A carrier is a must
No matter if you have a big cat or a kitten, it needs to be in a carrier during the whole drive. In case of an accident a loose cat will turn into a crazy jumping ball with claws. As a driver, you need to concentrate on the road, not if there’s a kitten under the pedals. Make sure to introduce your cat to the carrier at least few weeks before the trip.
Make the car cat’s territory
Cats hate new surroundings and are afraid if smells they don’t recognize. If you let your cat “investigate” the car and leave its smell inside, it will feel safer and more familiar when it gets inside the car again.
If your cat has a bed, favorite blanket or a towel, place it on the back seat. This way the cat’s smell will be already in the car. Put your cat on its bed and let it smell it and get comfortable. Once it lies down on it, you’ll know it’s time for the next step.
5-minute car visits
Close yourself and your cat in the car for 5 minutes every day. Let the kitty explore the new location, get under the seats, climb everywhere. An active tail, fluffed fur, and downturned ears are expected reactions the first days. When your cat gets calmer, extend the car time few more minutes.
This one is a classy, old-time trap. When kitty doesn’t panic in the car anymore, start feeding all its meals inside the car. Even better, give your cat high value treats that it’s never tried, so it feels rewarded.
Start the engine
Put your cat in the carrier and place it on the back seat. Start the car just for a few seconds and turn it off. Get out of the car without walking away from it and repeat the whole process couple of times. Your cat will get used to the engine sound and you being near at the same time.
Finally, start driving the car very slowly, so your cat doesn’t get scared. Repeat the whole process every day if possible if you want to have positive results. It may be hard at the beginning, but don’t give up. Good luck!
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