How to make car rides less stressful? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2009, 05:34 PM Thread Starter
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How to make car rides less stressful?

My cat is one of those kitties that is absolutely terrified of car rides. Because the vet is about 20 mins away by freeway, she sends herself into a panic every time we have to go. Sometimes she yowls intermittently but usually she becomes quiet and just trembles. She is virtually inconsolable at this point and ignores treats, toys etc. but does slightly respond to petting.

Is there any way I can ease her stress? I usually let her out of the carrier and she sits on my lap in the back seat while someone else drives. This seems to help her somewhat, but does anyone have other helpful tips?

Thanks
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2009, 05:42 PM
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Re: How to make car rides less stressful?

Nito was the same way. He still yowls on the way out to the car sometimes but here are some methods i have used to make it easier for him.

I always take a blanket that he likes- a furry leopard spotted one. Or one of my sweatshirts that he likes to lay on. Something with a familiar smell that helps comfort him. I either put that in the carrier if I am driving, or if someone else is, I put him in my lap and cover him up with it. Not being able to see the world whirring past helps to ease his stress and he'll usually go to sleep.

I also have "therapy sessions" with him in the car usually a day before we go somewhere. I will take him in there with some treats and his blanket/sweatshirt and close the door but do not turn the car on. Once he has initially calmed down, I'll give him some treats. We'll hang out in there for like 30 minutes, perhaps with some quiet music. Then, while giving him a treat, I'll turn the car on. Then I turn it off and we go inside.

Teaching your cat that the car doesn't ALWAYS mean that they are going some place scary (the vet) will help them to learn not to be so afraid. Have you tried any of these methods?
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2009, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How to make car rides less stressful?

I didn't even think of that.

Getting her more used to the car sounds like a good idea. Thanks!
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2009, 05:45 PM
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Re: How to make car rides less stressful?

no problemo! Oh, and you could try a little cat nip too if your cat likes it a lot. Using that during a therapy session can help her see that the car really isn't so scary... hey, maybe it's even fun!
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2009, 06:35 PM
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Re: How to make car rides less stressful?

Arianwen is scared in the car, too. I don't have anyone to take over the driving, so I just open her carrier on the passenger seat and softly put my hand on her. That seems to comfort her a little.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2009, 11:24 PM
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Re: How to make car rides less stressful?

IMO, for their safety, the cat must remain in their carrier.

If a car accident were to occur, the cat would be safer contained in the carrier than loose in the car. In addition, if the accident broke windows, the cat could be ejected and/or leave the car in a panic on its' own and be hit or lost. Keeping the cat in the carrier also prevents the cat from panicking around the vehicle interior, distracting/injuring the driver, injuring passengers, getting lodged under critical control pedals or wedged under seats. Also, any cat accidents (vomitting and voiding of bowels or bladder) is contained in the carrier. I always put a thick towel in the carriers. Shasta always burrows under the towel and hides when she travels in the carrier.

I try to position the carrier with the door pointed towards me so I can see them and give them eye-blinkies. I will sometimes push my fingers through the openings for them to rub their faces on. If it is a hot day, I will point AC vents to the carrier vent openings to help the cat keep from over-heating. If the cat is a very nervous traveler I will cover the carrier with a towel so they don't see everything wooshing past.

My vet is only 3mi from my home.
1mi of 55mph rural road. 1mi of state freeway, 55mph. 1mi of in-town 35mph road with only four street lights. This takes well under 10min (5- to travel.

To keep the drive as stress-free as possible:
Once the cat is in the carrier I get immediately into the car and go. I do not wait around to gather keys, handbags, wallets or whatever. All of that is done and placed in the car before the cat goes in the carrier. I drive directly to the vet and directly home afterwards. No stops, no matter how 'quick' it would be. I will take the cat home and drive back to town to get whatever was needed in a seperate trip so the cat can get home and de-stress as soon as possible.


Reilly was the only cat we've ever had that LIKED to ride in cars. The rest, just have to deal with it until the ride is over. I do what I can to minimize the stress, but it is a necessary evil that they have to ride in the carrier/car to get to the vet.
Yearly shots are done in my home by my horse vet when she comes to do routine shots for my horse. One ranch call of $70 covers her coming to treat my horse and my cats at my property. I've even split the ranch fee with a neighbor when she brought her dogs over on the same date (scheduled together) for their yearly and rabies shots.



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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-12-2009, 01:26 PM
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Re: How to make car rides less stressful?

Those sound like great tips for shorter car rides, but what about 10 hours or longer in the car? I'm planning on moving towards the beginning of May and I'm bringing my cat, but I'm worried about how she will handle a 10-13hr car ride. Or, more specifically, finding a way to make sure she's comfortable and stays hydrated.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-12-2009, 02:13 PM
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Re: How to make car rides less stressful?

It may help to open the window a crack. The fresh air might keep her stabilized.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-12-2009, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How to make car rides less stressful?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluemilk
It may help to open the window a crack. The fresh air might keep her stabilized.
Really? I figured the extra noise and pollution smell would freak her out more...
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-12-2009, 04:17 PM
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Re: How to make car rides less stressful?

Just do it. Be direct, no lolly-gagging or sight-seeing. Get her in the car and get the trip over with and done.

It is best to be prepared:
IF you must make a lengthy stop or you find she has soiled in her carrier, find a single room bathroom with a door you can LOCK and the room has NO WHERE for the kitty to escape to or hide behind and become inaccessible and quickly change out and clean her carrier and her, if needed.

Have a garbage bag and extra towels. Remove kitty from the carrier, maybe having a towel on the floor, folded in half and put her in the center, like a sandwich so she can 'hide'. Put soiled towel(s) into the garbage bag, wipe out her carrier, maybe give kitty a rinse and quick dry with a clean towel. Put that towel into the garbage bag and line the carrier with a fresh towel and put her back inside. Carry kitty and soiled towels back to car to continue trip. Wash towels upon arrival, or at least rinse well.

We moved seven cats across country in the Spring of 2001. WA state, south through California and then East to Georgia. It took 9 days with a U-Haul and MotorHome. On the 2nd day we picked up the RV and the cats were able to ride loose in the RV. They all tended to hide under blankets on the sleeping cushions and only came out at night to eat/drink and use the litterboxes when we were stopped to sleep. 10-13hrs outta be a piece of cake!
Best of luck,
Heidi



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