How to calm down a cat in the car? This is the question that most pet owners ask themselves whenever they are getting ready to experience cat travel ventures. If you’re dreading putting the pet carrier because your cat gets stressed easily, I’ve got some tips to help that cat car anxiety.
Unlike dogs, most cats don’t like to travel. As soon as you know that you’re going to be traveling, start getting your kitty comfortable with the carrier at least well in advance. Place the carrier in her favorite room and place her favorite toy, and your clothing inside to make the space smell familiar.
You might even want to place some treats inside, especially, if she loves eating. Read this in-depth article about traveling by car with a cat.
Cat Stressed In Car Signs and Symptoms
Some cats like Bengals love traveling, but most of them despise it. I’m not saying that you can’t get your cat used to traveling with you, but it’s going to take time and patience.
Most new pet owners have no clue what to look for if their cat is showing signs of stress and anxiety.
Before we get into how to calm your cat down in the car, we first need to take a look at some of the signs that you can see from a cat that is showing signs of stress or anxiety.
Symptoms of Feline Anxiety In Cats
Some cats are prone to motion sickness and the most noticeable signs include vomiting. However, there are some signs that are not quite as noticeable but which are unpleasant for you and your pet.
- Attempting to escape
- Excessive salivation
- Excessive and loud meowing
- Whining or scratching
- Urinating or soiling
- Aggression towards people or other animals
- Diarrhea or constipation
The signs of stress are pretty similar to anxiety. Your kitty can be affected by just one symptom or may show signs of several symptoms.
Either way, it’s never a fun experience to have your furbaby suffering from stress and anxiety. If you really want to travel with your cat, there are some things that you can do to help them enjoy the ride or at least be more comfortable.
How Can I Make My Cat More Comfortable In The Car?
Most cats are homebodies and prefer staying at home. They are sensitive to the environment and territory when you put them in a totally different environment, they become stressed.
Their first ride usually isn’t a pleasant one, but with some training, they can grow to enjoy the experience of traveling with you. One of the first things you’ll need to do is help cats associate cars with fun, right now they probably associate your vehicle with a trip to the vet. (NOT FUN)
It takes time and patience, but with enough positive reinforcement training, you can have them looking forward to every trip you want to take.
Eventually, you’ll be able to take them for long rides and have the cat in the car without any worries.
Taking Long Car Rides With Cats
Before going on a long weekend road trip with your cat, make sure that you take the time to get her used to the carrier. Make the carrier inviting by placing her meals outside of the carrier.
As she gets comfortable being around the carrier, start placing her food just inside the crate. Keep pushing it further back deeper into the crate, until she is eating entirely inside the crate.
You can also put her comfortable plush bed inside which will make it inviting for your cat. Try spraying feeling anxiety spray like Feliway inside the carrier, it is a synthetic cat hormone spray to help with relaxation.
Get Her Used to The Car
Once your cat starts going inside the crate by herself, you’re ready to move the carrier out to the car. Leave the car door open and giver her a treat when putting her in the carrier.
Keep repeating the process of putting her in and taking her out of the carrier. Once she remains relaxed, you can shut and open the door. Keep talking to her softly and petting her to know that everything is okay.
Once she is calm and doesn’t look scared, you can try turning on the engine and moving the car back and forth in the driveway.
Repeat this process for a few days until she gets used to being in the car and doesn’t freak out when the engine turns on.
Go For A Short Drive
Now it’s time to take her for a short drive. Take her for a spin around the block or stop by and pick up a coffee at Starbucks.
Drive at a slow pace without making any sudden stops or turns. Talk to her during your trip and just reassure her that everything is fine.
Do that over and over for a few days, eventually, she will learn that there is nothing to fear from riding in the car.
How Long Does It Take?
Getting your cat to be comfortable with riding in a car can take time. I can’t tell you how long it will take your cat to get comfortable.
There are several factors that come into play when training your cat. The thing that I can tell you is that if you are consistent with your training, they will eventually enjoy traveling. Of course, some breeds just don’t like traveling at all.
But what if you have to go on a long road trip or out of town suddenly without having time to properly train your feline friend?
Well, here are some things you can do if your cat is traveling for the first time and you’re both experiencing an unpleasant trip.
Cat Crying In Car What It Means
If your cat won’t stop meowing, you know it can be hard to enjoy the trip. This usually means that they are scared because they are in an unfamiliar environment.
It may take time to get them to quiet down, but it is possible.
How to Calm Down A Panting Cat?
Come cat panting is normal and there’s no reason to be concerned. However, if your cat is stressed out, they may show signs of difficulty breathing and wheezing.
If your cat is panting heavily, it could be that the temperature in the vehicle is too high. Try turning on the AC to see if that helps your kitty.
Things to Help Calm Your Kitty
- Try to position the carrier high enough to where they can see out. (Keep it secured with the seatbelt) Sometimes it helps calm them down if your cat can see what’s outside.
- Talk to them in a normal, upbeat tone to help reassure them that everything is fine.
- Play some relaxing soft music to see if that will help them relax and calm down.
- Keep the windows rolled up to keep out some of the traffic noises.
- If there are passengers in the car, they can try petting the cat inside the carrier.
- A last ditch effort would be to try taking the cat out and riding with them in the lap. (be careful they don’t jump around the car and cause an accident)
If none of that keeps your cat from freaking out, then maybe you’ll just have to turn up the radio and find the next rest area to pull over.
Does Catnip Help Cats With Anxiety?
Catnip contains a chemical called Nepetalactone, which can be used to calm an anxious cat. When inhaled it has a stimulating and euphoric effect to help your kitty.
It’s perfect to help make your cat more relaxed when in an unfamiliar setting.
Cat Sedative For Traveling In Car
The last thing you can resort to after trying all the tips on this site is to learn about sedation for cats. I personally, wouldn’t use this method until I had tried everything else to try to calm down my kitty.
If you’ve never used sedation for your cat, you may want to contact your veterinarian to talk to them about the best method to get your feline calm while traveling. You might also want to look into some holistic methods to help sedate your kitty.
If you really want to take your cat where ever you go, you’re going to have to get them used to various transportation modes such as airplane, car, bus, train, and etc.
There’s absolutely no reason that your cat won’t enjoy it. You just need to give them time to get accustomed to being in different environments.
Hopefully, these tips will help you calm your kitty so you can both enjoy your ventures together.
Related Articles for Cat Health In Travel
References and Further Reading
Mikkel Becker – Teach Your Cat to Love Riding In The Car