By Emily Parker, Catological.com
Traveling is one of the most horrid things a cat has to do, especially when it calls for vet visits.
The journey alone is quite troublesome for cats of all breeds and ages and what’s even worse, they tend to associate it with the stressful and sometimes painful unpleasantries of a medical check-up.
But fear not! There are ways to get your cat used to traveling without a fuss. And this doesn’t involve Feliway or heavy sedatives.
Though clearly intelligent, felines are whimsical creatures. Moreover, they aren’t fond of the intimidating unknown, but some breeds are more easy-going and susceptible to training. Which is why it might take longer for your own cat to get used to traveling?
Age, health complications and overall temperament are also key factors, but that shouldn’t discourage you.
So, how can you make the kitty not dread the idea of traveling? It all starts with the kennel.
Get on top of the kennel situation
Unfortunately, choosing the correct carrier size doesn’t mean your pet will automatically take a liking to it just because it’s airy and spacious.
There’s a whole process involved in making sure your cat is comfortable with her kennel, which will allow you to safely store her away before travel, without the nasty fights and scratches that usually come with forcing your kitty into a kennel.
But which is the best kennel for your cat?
Many pet parents would probably want to opt for a soft mesh since it’s delicate enough to not cause any injury and doesn’t add more weight when you carry it by hand. However, I’ve found solid kennels and cages to be much more suitable for cats that don’t like traveling.
Choosing one that has both a front and top entry is ideal, as it gives you options when it comes to getting your kitty in and out safely.
A top entry cage also allows you to hang a couple of cat toys from the top, which should help to keep your cat engaged during the trip.
Don’t give up on your kitty if you don’t see any progress with the kennel immediately. And remember – never force the cat into doing something just because you’re feeling impatient!
Help the cat get accustomed to your car
With its menacing size and monstrous roaring, your vehicle is a terrifying thing to domestic pets.
Teach the kitty that your car is a safe place and that it can be entertaining. Scatter treats in the car, put some toys in it, use catnip if necessary and let the furball roam the inside of the vehicle freely.
Allowing it to explore every single corner of the car is essential; otherwise the cat will still perceive it as something strange and formidable.
Let your kitty explore the car on several occasions without any restraints such as carriers or leashes and make sure it’s fully accustomed to the vehicle before you decide to travel.
Just remember, leaving the cat alone in the car is absolutely out of the question. The same goes for closing the doors with the cat inside – your pet needs a clear route in case it wants to get out.
Some cats get motion sickness and that’s yet another reason why they hate traveling.
Some companies offer all-natural remedies that help calm cats with herbs like chamomile and valerian. While not effective for all cats, these herbal remedies are definitely worth a try in order to increase the likelihood of a calm, vomit-free trip.
Practice traveling with your cat
Most pets out there aren’t big fans of unfamiliar sights, scents, noises and overall surroundings. You can’t expect your fluffy friend to get used to traveling if it hasn’t done so before the big day.
I would suggest starting with something as simple as a drive around the block.
Don’t get discouraged if your pet gets upset the first time. Wait for a few more days before attempting another test drive. Increase the traveling time slowly with each new journey.
Lastly, you might also want to take the kitty on casual trips to the vet’s office just for a quick chat.
This will make the cat associate the doctor with a regular person instead of with the scary human that does the exams. Just don’t show up unannounced in case the doc has lots of work or the day off.
Keep in mind that driving with your cat while kitty isn’t inside the kennel can lead to injuries caused by anxiety and potentially result in a car accident that will endanger you, your pet and the rest of the people on the street.
Praise and bribe the cat before, during, and after every trip
It’s not a secret that when it comes to felines, a little bribery can go a long way.
Offering rewards for good behavior instead of punishment for unwanted behavior is much more efficient for training. By associating a certain type of place or behaviorism with something pleasant, the kitty will strive to do what’s necessary in order to receive the reward.
Speak in a proud, but soothing tone, present your kitty with verbal and physical praise – treats aren’t your only options, but they are definitely mandatory!
Apply this positive reinforcement practice before, after and during every single journey. It will help the cat like this time spent together and it will also strengthen your bond. Finally, don’t forget to instruct the rest of the people in your household to practice these methods too.