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How To Calm An Anxious Cat In The Car

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Slowly introducing your cat to being in the car is the best approach.

Driving to the vets on the first time your cat goes in the car is going to increase stress and cause negative association.

Instead, the first couple of times in the car just go for a short drive around the block so your cat can get used to the sensation.

Always reward your cat with treats after a car journey so they begin to associate it with positive experiences.

Choose A Comfortable Cat Carrier

Your road to success will start with choosing the right car carrier.

It should be a roomy box durable enough to hold your struggling cat. Dont get a carrier that your cat can easily break out of or damage with its claws.

Carriers made from harder materials are ideal for aggressive felines. If you happen to own a more docile cat, you can opt for using a soft-sided mesh carrier.

The carrier needs to be big enough for your cat to stand up and turn around easily. Resist the urge to get the largest carrier, though, since cats feel safer in small spaces.

Let Your Cat Ride Shotgun

Place your cat in the front seat so he is near you. Placing your cat in the front seat instead of the back seat will help with your cats anxiety while traveling in the car. Allowing your cat to be next to you in the passenger seat will allow you to monitor him during the trip.

This also makes it very easy for you to pass him a treat or a snack if he starts showing signs of anxiety.

If for some reason you are not able to place your cat in the passenger seat then the back seat will have to do. The only real issue with this if your cat starts to act out because of anxiety you will not not be able to access him as easily. I strongly suggest that you never place your cat in the trunk. This is very dangerous for obvious reasons even if you think they have enough ventilation.

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Calming Sprays And Natural Calmers

Like with humans every cat have a different personality and character. While some cats may be more adventurous and playful some are really fearful and docile. Normally cats that are sensitive get affected the most by the change in routines and surroundings.

In these character of cats, practice may help but you need to use another method to bring about the same results. Calming sprays and natural herbs work very well to soothe anxiety and relieve stress.

These sprays and natural calmers contain pheromones that help to provide a sense of safety and well-being. The aim is to bring the cat to a pleasant state of comfort by tricking their sense of smell.

Products that can be used are

  • calming sprays
  • Or you could try melatonin which is a good alternative.

Safely Secure The Travel Carrier In The Car

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As tempting as it might be, dont allow your cat to roam freely in your car. This is dangerous for both you and your cat. If your cat gets down by the brake pedal or accelerator, it could cause an accident. Also, its helpful to place the cat carrier in a location where you can have visual contact with your cat.

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Bring Snacks And Familiar Items That Will Calm Your Cat

If you have a very vocal cat, he may start meowing during the road trip. The increased meowing is a direct effect from elevated anxiety and stress levels. You can help alleviate his stress by feeding him snacks and bringing objects from home that have his scent on them.

A good item to bring would be a blanket. You could lay the blanket down on the bottom of the cat carrier. Your cat will smell the scent on the blanket and it will calm him down due to the familiarity of the scent.

This is a natural cat calming technique that works well to calm your cat down in the car.

Prep The Car Beforehand

Be sure to get the car ready for your cat before you get in it. Heat it or cool it to the correct temperature before you hop in with your feline. This will help prevent the cat from getting stressed due to the temperature change. Furthermore, the inside of a crate isnt as ventilated as just sitting in a car, so their crate may not cool down at the same rate as the rest of the car.

Generally, any major changes can negatively affect your cat. Therefore, you should make your cars environment match your homes as much as possible. While you should plan on having plenty of familiar smelling items in the crate, you may want to add a few to the car as well.

Plan on playing soft music while you travel. Loud music can stress out your feline, especially if it starts to vibrate the car. Remember, your cat is in a crate, so it may pick up the vibrations more easily than a hard material.

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Ensure All Your Cats Needs Are Met

You should ensure that your cat has been fed and given enough to drink while traveling. Preferably, feed them before you travel. If youre just going to someone for an hour or so, then feed them on their normal routine. For longer trips, you should have a pet water bottle handy for them to drink out of if necessary.

Being thirsty and not knowing when theyre going to drink next can be very stressful for these cats. You should provide them with water often before they start showing signs of stress or dehydration.

We also recommend avoiding feeding your cat right before you leave if they are known to experience car sickness. Often, being a little bit hungry is much better than feeling sick and potentially vomiting all over the carrier. Know your cat and choose the option that works best for them.

Keep Your Car At A Comfortable Temperature

Anxious Car Rides for Cats

Keeping your cars interior at a comfortable temperature will make traveling feel better for your cat. Using the air conditioning or heater is a great way to make your cat as comfortable as possible. Keep bathroom stops short, and remember that the interior temperature of your car will quickly return to the ambient outside temperature once you turn your car off. If you do have to stop, make sure someone can stay with your cat.

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Desensitizing A Puppy To Enjoy Riding In The Car

  • Start with the car parked and turned off. Sit next to your dog in the area you plan on having them regularly ride . Give your dog pets, praise, treats whatever they love! Do this for just a few minutes at a time.
  • After a few sessions in the same area as your dog, introduce being behind the wheel while your dog is still in their area. You can toss treats back to them and praise them whenever they are quiet and calm. This is a great opportunity for using a stuffed Kong or Toppl to build a positive association with staying calm and being further away from you while in the car.

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  • After practicing with the car turned off, start to introduce turning the car on. Keep your own energy and attitude neutral while you turn the car on, wait a brief moment, and then turn it back off. The noise can be a little disconcerting at first, so toss a treat right after it happens. Start to increase the amount of time you leave the engine running, all the while making sure your pup is calm and happy with verbal praise and the occasional toss of a treat.
  • Start to add in more and more of the car ride process, making sure to reinforce calm behavior with praise and treats throughout. You can simply back out of the driveway before pulling back in or do a quick trip around the block before taking longer and longer trips. Go to lots of fun places with your puppy that they enjoy so they learn that car rides predict awesome things!

Tire Your Cat Our Before Traveling

Play with your cat and tire him out before taking him out on the road. Simply expending his energy before a trip will greatly work in your favor. Its a trick parents actually do with their kids. The same works with your cat. Get all of his energy out before the trip and he will have nothing left to do but take a nice cat nap.

Just be sure that there is a comfortable mattress or bed in the carrier to keep him from waking up. This is one of the best natural ways to calm your cat down in the car.

If your cat knows how to walk with a leash then this would be a good time to take him for a walk. Walking your cat is a good technique to tire them out. Cats do not have as much endurance as other animals when it comes to physical activities. Hence why the perfect picture of a cat is of them laying down napping somewhere in a shaded area.

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Why Does My Cat Pant In The Car

  • Asked by: Ms. Kaela Beahan

    Last update: February 25, 2022Score: 4.8/5

Because cats do not perspire, they will pant when their heart beat is elevated and when they are hot. It’s normal to see some panting because a car ride is very stressful for most cats. If you see excessive panting, your cat drools or begins convulsions stop as soon as possible and call your veterinarian.

Introduce Cat And Carrier

Calming Music for Cats with Anxiety

Get kitty comfortable with the carrier well in advance of travel day. Start by placing the carrier in a room where the cat spends time. Place a favorite small blanket or an old piece of your clothing inside to make the space smell familiar. Occasionally place treats inside for the cat to find. After a few days, place the cat inside the carrier.

Let the cat spend a few minutes inside the carrier to get used to the experience. Over the next few days, have the cat spend longer and longer periods in the carrier and start taking short car trips around the neighborhood with the cat and carrier.

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I Make Sure Her Travel Carrier Is Familiar

Instead of storing her travel crate in a closet, like I used to, I keep it in the living room, near her midday nap-in-the-sun chair. She doesnt go into it often, but I do see her wandering in to explore or sniffing around the outside every few weeks. Before trips, I pad the bottom of the crate with the pillow that she sleeps on every night and a T-shirt of mine out of the laundry basket. The softness of the pillow, along with the familiar smells, give her comfort.

If I know in advance that the trip will be extra hard , I spritz some Feliway into her carrier to calm her nerves.

Nine Things To Do For A Successful Road Trip

1) Use a carrier for your pet. Any carrier you choose should have these three characteristics.

Comfort: Make sure the carrier is big enough for your pet to stand and turn around in easily. Your cat should be able to move and stretch freely in the carrier.

Security: Ensure that the closure is secure to prevent kitty from escaping while you are on the road.

Familiarity: It is always a good idea to get your cat familiar with a crate well before you need to travel.

You can do this by exposing the cat to the crate on a regular basis before you need to use it.

This process is called positive conditioning which teaches your pet to associate pleasant feelings with the crate.

The cat is trained by leaving the crate open in a favorite spot in your home. His natural curiosity will eventually lead him to explore the inside of the carrier.

You can give your cat treats while inside the carrier as well. If the cat is free to explore the carrier while it remains open and receives positive reinforcement, it creates a level of comfort.

When traveling, you can place a towel with her scent inside as well as anything with your scent, and her favorite toys to reassure her.

2) Use a seat belt. Prevent the carrier from moving during the trip which can agitate a nervous cat.

3) Use a harness and leash. This will make it easier to manage your pet and move them into and out of the car.

First, get him become accustomed to the car with the engine off. Allow him to rub his scent around the car interior.

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What Should I Bring For My Cat During Long Road Trips

When taking your cat for long road trips, its important to pack everything your cat may need during the journey. Pack food, water, and medication. Also, pack your cats favorite treats, toys, litter, and any other items your cat is familiar with.

In addition to your cats day-to-day items, dont forget your cats medical documents, recent lab work, vaccination certificates, and vaccination tags. More so, ensure your cat wearing is identification and a properly fitting harness.

How Can I Make My Cat More Comfortable In The Car

How to calm an anxious cat?

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 isnt a pleasant one, but with some training, they can grow to enjoy the experience of traveling with you. One of the first things youll need to do is help cats associate cars with fun, right now they probably associate your vehicle with a trip to the vet.

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, youll be able to take them for long rides and have the cat in the car without any worries.

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Talk To Your Cat And Pet It

The best thing you can do for a scared cat is talk to it. Most cats find their owners voice reassuring due to the familiarity. Try speaking to your cat in a soft, gentle tone and see how it responds.

Moreover, if your cat loves to be petted, you can stroke it from outside its carrier. There may be space between the bars or when you push against the mesh of the carriers. Your familiar touch might have a relaxing effect on your cat.

Cats First Time Car Travels What You Need To Know

For cats that are traveling for the first time, I always suggest that your prepare for everything. Since you not sure how your cat will react or if your cat have motion sickness.

Carry extra supplies and motion sickness meds. You also want to include

  • wipes
  • toys
  • litter box

I also recommend that you carry the cat on your lap. First time experiences can be daunting so you want to give enough support and comfort. This way isnt very safe so a good pouch will work, provided your are strapped on and secure.

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How To Calm A Scared Cat

When your cat is scared, one of the best things you can do is give her space. Dont try to pick her up or move her, Calder says, since some cats may redirect their stress onto you and become aggressive.

Instead, Van de Kieft recommends quickly removing the source of stress and then closing your scared cat off in one room, dimming the lights, and even putting on some stress-reducing cat music specially designed tracks with purring layered over soothing tunes. Make sure the room has all your cats essentials inside: litter box, food, and water. Then give her time and space to decompress.

Sometimes when cats are upset, it can take a couple hours to calm down, says Van de Kieft.

If youve worked on it in advance, Calder says it may also be helpful to try redirecting your cats focus with a behavior theyve learned, such as touch or targeting .

Van de Kieft notes that play can help too, especially for young cats, since exercise makes you forget about whats going on.

For cat-scaring moments that cant be avoided in the futuresuch as running the vacuum or going to the veterinarianshe suggests working on positive associations. For instance, try doling out treats anytime you vacuum.

And if your cat is still young, Van de Kieft says the best thing you can do is expose her to as many varied situations as possible. Have friends over, have kids over, get them used to different experiencesit builds resilience, she says.

How To Transport A Cat In A Car Without A Carrier

Calm Your Cat Down: 7 Kitty Calming Tips For Your Anxious Cat

Does a cat need to be in a carrier in the car? Not exactly. There are 5 different ways to secure your cat in the vehicle that doesnt require you to buy a special carrier.

The carriers merely ensure its easier to pack the feline around and contain some of the mess, should your feline react out of fear in the car.

The important part is ensuring your cat is secured within the vehicle. If it can move around, its likely to be jostled during the ride, make messes, and even play around with the foot pedals.

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