We’ve all seen the movie where the pets see the car and know it’s time for some veterinarian visits. What do the fictional animals do in this situation? They freak out.
Unfortunately for some of use fur parents, that experience isn’t so fictional. Our feline babies don’t love to travel to new locations, with smells they can’t understand.
Think about your child, or someone else’s if you don’t have one. What would they do if the first thing a doctor ever did to them was cut off their reproductive parts?
They wouldn’t see the doctor in a very positive light. Neither would your cat. But you can overcome this aversion – even with the most skittish of babies.
Keep reading to learn how.
1. Demystify the Carrier
You know what you wouldn’t like? Being grabbed and stuffed in a small box where it was cramped and hard to see.
Your cat doesn’t like that either. Instead of trying to reduce the cats’ anxiety about the ver by not showing them the carrier until it’s time, acclimate them to it!
You can place the cat carrier in the house a few hours prior to your appointment. Throw some treats in there and take the door of the cage off if you can. If they get inside it, praise them and give them a scratch.
Some cats like the lace hide n seek with a toy and the little holes on the side of the carrier. That’s a fun game to play too!
Acclimation isn’t working? You may have left the carrier in a place the cat doesn’t like. Put it somewhere quiet and away from the chaos so the cat can safely explore.
If they won’t touch it at all, it may be time to get a completely different carrier. Places like Petsmart allow you to bring your pets in – so let them try out their options, like these products.
Why should humans have all the fitting-room fun?
In summation, don’t rush your cat into a scary box you showed them two minutes ago. Let them figure it out before it’s time to go!
2. Add Some Mommy Smell
Who is the person your cat loves most in this world? It might not be you – that’s okay. Take a piece of (lightly) worn clothing of that person and put it in their carrier.
Having the scent and the reminder of someone they love will help them feel safe in a new and loud environment.
3. Acclimate Them to The Car
A lot of cats only ever go in the car when they’re going to the vet. If they have an unpleasant experience at the vet, it’ll lead to associating that with the car.
It also works the other way around. If they hate the car, they’ll arrive at the vet in a bad mood.
So, make sure you show them the car like you initially showed them the carrier. Some people recommend letting the cat roam the inside of the car by themselves when it’s cool and not moving.
Sit in the car and let them roam around and smell things.
Then take them out. The next day, put their new favorite hide-out, the carrier, in the car with treats inside. Sit with them in the car until they snuggle up. Then bring them back in.
Once they willingly go in the carrier, you can start to keep them in there. Start with five minutes and take them back out. Increase to ten minutes or even twenty.
Like dogs, you don’t want to leave a cat in the hot car when you’re inside somewhere. If you pick kids up from school and are going to be in the car the whole time – that’s a good time to experiment with longer car carrier sessions.
If you have kids that sit in the back seat, they’ll be excited to have their feline companion. Talk to your child about how kitty might be scared and help them say encouraging words in a calm tone.
Speak to the cat in the car like you would if you were soothing a baby.
4. Strap Them In
You don’t want to just put the cat carrier in the hatchback or on the floor o your car and let it slide around. That’s scary for your cat and will give them hard-to-clean motion sickness.
Instead, make sure to buckle them in. Most carriers have handles on the top that you can strap the seat belt through. It’ll keep them from sliding around and keep them safe were you to wreck.
You can also have someone who’s in the car with you hold the carrier, but a seatbelt works best when you’re transporting kitty on your own.
5. Medicate Them
Don’t slip your kitty a pill unless it’s your last option and the once every few months car rides really makes your cat ill.
Kitty Dramamine and anti-anxiety are prescriptions only, you shouldn’t give human versions to your cat.
Talk to your vet if you think medication is the route for your cat’s travel issues. It may just be that they need it for long trips. like when you’re moving cross country.
Follow the dosing instructions exactly when and if you do administer medication. Need some help convincing your kitty to swallow a pill?
Calm Veterinarian Visits
If you have a cat that’s iffy about car rides and veterinarian visits in general, follow our tips above. You can implement any or all of them and see what works for you and your fur baby.
If you have a tip we don’t have – let us know. We’re always open to learning! Are you? Learn more cat tips here.