Generally, cats don’t like to travel by car, and in this post, you will get tips on how to calm down a cat in the car while going to visit the veterinarian’s office, or going on a long journey. If you know how to calm a cat down on a car ride, your trip will be more comfortable, safer, and stress-free.
We expect a lot from cats during those rides. We carry them home from a breeder, put them into an unfamiliar box, stick them in a car, and want to get them from here to there as quickly as possible. The moment we get home, we toss the carrier in a cupboard or closet and won’t use it again till the next trip, which can take months or years.
Cats like to be in an environment that smells familiar to them, and you know cars are noisy, feels strange, and move quickly. Most cats hate car rides, and many cat owners believe that it is better to keep their cats out of vehicles and cat carriers unless it is necessary. But if you learn how to calm a cat down for a long car ride, it will make the journey more natural for the pet, the driver and other passengers in the car to feel more comfortable.
Tips on how to calm down a cat in the car
Get the right cat carrier.
Get the right carrier for your cat. A cat’s personality often shows the type of transport that is best for her. Anxious or awkward cats should be kept in a hard carrier, while placid cats should be kept in a soft carrier.
The carrier you get for your cat should be big enough so that your pet has lots of space to stand up and turn around in but don’t buy a much bigger carrier because cats like to feel safe in smaller areas. Get a carrier that is big enough for your cat to be comfortable without being too roomy.
Ensure your cat is familiar with the carrier before the trip. Instead of storing the carrier in a closet or cupboard, put it in the living room. Bring the carrier out some weeks before your trip so that the cat can get used to seeing it and probably get into it to have a good sniff. Add a blanket, towel, or a soft material your cat is used to inside the carrier so that she gets used to the smell, thus giving her comfort.
If you know in advance that the trip will be extra hard (if there is a thunderstorm happening), spray some Feliway into your cat’s carrier to calm her nerves.
The carrier is the cat’s primary point of contact in the car, so if you let your cat explore the box, it will encourage feelings of security, safety, and familiarity.
Tire your cat before embarking on the trip
Another tip on how to get your cat to calm down in the car is by making them tired. Tiring your cat through play and exercise will make the cat sleepy, and if your cat sleeps throughout the journey, it will make her less anxious.
Introduce your cat to the car
If you introduce your cat to the car before the trip, it will make a difference. Turn off the car engine and let the cat wander around the interior. Ensure the doors and windows of the car are locked if you have a house cat. Let your cat explore the new space, and once you think the cat is used to the new environment, you can then turn on the engine so that your cat can get used to its sound.
Note: it is dangerous to drive with a loose cat in the car, so if you decide to take your cat on a short trip, make sure your cat is inside a cat carrier.
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Stay within your cat sight.
If possible, stay where your cat can see you when in the cat carrier. Cats’ anxiety comes from the unknown of being confined in a little space in a moving car, passing past lots of smells and sounds.
For the few hours riding in the car, spend extra time with your cat, play and snuggle with her. Let your cat have strong memories of your love when caged in the carrier and put in the vehicle. When driving, put the carrier in a position where you can see and make eye contact with your cat when possible.
Talk to your cat
Your cat might not be used to the carrier, but it sure knows your voice. When you talk to your cat while driving, it calms her nerves. Use a soft and gentle voice and tell her stories.
Touch your cat
While on the trip, try by all means to touch your cat. Stick your fingers through the carrier and pet her and let her rub her head all over your fingers. Doing this gives your cat a sense of safety and security.
Ensure the air conditioner is on in summer and the heater in winter
If you are travelling in the summer, make sure the air conditioner of your car is on, and if you are going in the winter, also make sure the heater is on. Always be mindful of the temperature outside before embarking on the journey.
Note: keep the bathroom break as short as possible because a car can quickly cool down or heat up if the engine is off. If your cat starts panting in the vehicle, it could mean that she is anxious or a sign that she is overheating. Also, make sure you have fresh drinking water available too.If you want you may take a small cat water fountains in your car.
Play classical music
At times classical music helps keep cats calm in the car. The music will also help cover up the sound of the engine.
Your cats will be more sensitive to movement than you or any other passengers in the car. To avoid bumps on the road, drive smoothly and make sure the carrier is adequately secured to prevent it from sliding about or bouncing against the car seat.
Learning how to calm down a cat in the car isn’t always going to be easy, but the methods above are worth a try.