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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2014, 09:39 PM Thread Starter
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Traveling in a car

Sorry for the length but I need help! My little cat named Tonks is usually very laid back. Until recently anytime that I had to take her to the vet she would handle the drive with some meows but overall relatively calm. When I moved three hours away last summer (to start a doctoral program) I gave all three cats a light sedative and two of them rode in the car with my mom while Tonks rode with me in the Uhaul. I was very surprised by her reaction during the drive. she completely freaked out. She cried nonstop the entire time in the truck, turned flips in her cage over and over again, dug furiously and stuck her front paws out of the kennel trying to grab at me. She was so out of control that she ripped a hole in the side and bottom of her soft side kennel, which had to be thrown away.

I thought that maybe the sedative was the cause for her behavior so when we traveled for Thanksgiving I didn't sedate her. She acted the exact same way! After the hellish drive I thought for sure that she would freak out at my parents house but as soon as I let her out of the kennel she just trotted away and started playing!

So, as Christmas approaches I'm trying to figure out how to travel with her. Leaving the cats home for two weeks is out of the question. All of my friends here are heading for their hometowns for the two week break. Boarding her or hiring a pet sitter won't work because it's too expensive. By the way, when I've left the kennels out in the house I've found her sleeping in them so I know that it's not about an aversion to the kennel. Any suggestions or ideas?
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2014, 09:41 PM Thread Starter
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Here she is!
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2014, 09:46 PM
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I am not sure what to say to help.. things that may help..

A feliway or calming collar?

An extra vigorous play session followed by a meal before leaving (unless prone to car sickness). To hopefully put her in a napping mood.

I have also resorted to covering the door of my carriers with a towel, which sometimes works at calming them.

Spray the inside of the car and carrier with Feliway?

"Rescue Remedy" may help

BTW she is cute!

Last edited by BotanyBlack; 12-11-2014 at 09:51 PM.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2014, 10:19 PM
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It sounds like what happened was the sedative caused a very negative memory. Many mild sedatives used on cats don't have any affect on how the cat FEELS, only their ability to express it. So, she's scared, and doesn't feel safe (due to her lack of control of her own reactions/body movements) so now she's TERRIFIED.

The second trip was just as bad because of how awful that sedated trip was. Like if the next time you went to the dentist they gave you a sedative that left you aware, but unable to move...how would you feel about dentists after that experience?

The best way to handle this is to get her used to car trips again.

Put her in the kennel, take her out to the car. Start the car. Turn off the car, go inside and have a treat.

Put her in the kennel, take her out to the car. Start the car, back out of the driveway. Park back in the driveway, turn off the car, go in the house and have a treat.

Repeat each step a lot of times and always with yummy treats during (if she'll eat them) and after. Only move on once she's comfortable.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-11-2014, 10:45 PM
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OMG! Librarychick, is that what a sedative does to a cat?? That's horrible!
Your idea of the "slow" getting used to vehicle, works!
I did something similar years ago with a cat, and she turned into a real lover of trips!!

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-12-2014, 01:40 PM
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I have heard that about sedatives, which is why I've never considered using one. My orange boy Sunny has a tendency to flip out going into a carrier and since he has a vet visit coming up next week for a rabies vac, my husband suggested maybe we should get a mild sedative. I explained to him how it can sometimes make things worse, which he didn't realize. I would really like to do some crate training with him (the cat, not the husband lol), but it's really hard since he doesn't even like to be patted (when he's on the floor - chair or bed are a different story for some reason lol) or picked up, and is not treat motivated at all.

Emmers, sounds like that is what happened with your little cutie. Hopefully some of librarychick's suggestions will work for you and her.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-12-2014, 02:32 PM
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^^ this is why I avoid sedatives myself! Good luck with the retraining. Start early and keep treats handy!
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-12-2014, 05:27 PM
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Now I feel terrible, I gave my dog a sedative before I took him to the vet to put him down.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 12-12-2014, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by librarychick View Post
It sounds like what happened was the sedative caused a very negative memory. Many mild sedatives used on cats don't have any affect on how the cat FEELS, only their ability to express it. So, she's scared, and doesn't feel safe (due to her lack of control of her own reactions/body movements) so now she's TERRIFIED.
This is interesting. What's the source for the info, Becky? I'd be curious to read about this effect.


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