Help make their ride as comfortable as you can
December 18, 2018
When you think of taking a trip with a pet, cats often take a back seat. Canine counterparts are thought of as a good travel companions, but you can train your kitty to enjoy a road trip too!
Travel can cause stress in your feline friend. Cats prefer routine and the safety of their own home, and they aren’t always a big fan of change. But a little time, patience, and a lot of treats can help manage change-related stress.
Tip 1: Crate train your cat
While traveling may be stressful, a crate can help calm your kitty. The main hurdle of crate training a cat is helping them see the crate as a good, happy place.
Too often, the crate is only used for transporting a cat to and from a veterinary visit. No wonder they’re not a fan! But you can change their perception by setting the crate out so it becomes a part of their everyday space. Place a favorite blanket or toy in the crate, and make sure the door of the crate is securely fastened open so it won’t accidentally swing shut and frighten your cat.
Second, using your cat’s favorite treats, put a few in front of the crate and in it, seeing if kitty will approach it on their own.
Third, continue to use treats to encourage your cat to willingly go in the crate and stay in there. Once kitty is comfortable going in the crate and lying in it all on its own, start closing the door for a short time.
This training will take time. At first, your feline friend may be afraid of the sight of the crate, so it may take a few days to warm up to it. It will take even more time for kitty to feel comfortable staying in the crate.
Once your cat is crate trained, it’ll be much easier to take them on planes or shorter car rides. You’ll want to take short drives (down the block and back) for kitty to get accustomed to being in your car. Just be sure to always stock the crate with toys and treats!
Tip 2: Make your car a comfortable place
While a crate is a great option for shorter road trips, it’s not ideal for a trip longer than six hours. Your cat needs access to water and litter, and anything more than six hours is a bit unfair!
To give your cat a little more room, try a large dog crate. This way, they can move around and access water and litter as needed, but are contained so you don’t have to worry about them roaming around your car.
Only let your cat wander freely about your car as a last resort. Try keeping them harnessed or leashed to prevent them from hiding under seats or pedals, crawling into hiding spots you can’t reach, or escaping your car altogether.
As with crate training, your kitty needs a little time to get used to your car. A few weeks before your trip, let him roam around in your parked car for a little while. Offer treats so they know the car is a good place.
On the day of your trip, bring toys and comforts such as a blanket or bed. Place a litter box, or disposable litterbags, somewhere that’s easy to access. If you can, avoid feeding them in the morning, reducing their need to stink up your space or throw up.
Be extra careful when opening or closing car doors when your cat is loose. The last thing you want is for him to dart out a door and get lost in an unfamiliar place. Make sure your cat is wearing an ID tag so if there is an escape, they can be easily returned to you.
Tip 3: Ask your vet if medication is needed
If you’ve tried training your cat, but traveling is still super stressful, talk to your veterinarian. They may prescribe medication or mild sedatives. Not only will this help with your cat’s stress levels, but it’ll also make your trip much more enjoyable.
If you don’t have a veterinarian or need help finding one, check out one of our awesome partners.