We all have to do it some time as cat owner, traveling with your cat in a car. Sometimes simply because you need to go to the veterinarian for a yearly check-up. No matter for what purpose, it usually means a lot of drama in the car.
Transporting our dear cats is something that is part of having cats in the first place. There is the occasional veterinarian clinic visit or there is the chance you need to move to a new place. If you work, like us, in the animal protection services, you need to catch cats and transport them to their new home.
Drama & Stress
The drama is well-known of that. A lot of miauwing is just one side of it and still overcome able. The bigger problems have to do with obtained stress of your cat from travel. Some cats have this stress level worse than others. The ones that do not like travel, usually do some business nr 1 and 2 in their cage, so they add to the stinky and smelly and we simply end up opening the windows and shutting down the air-co.
Than there is the smell of fear – it is a very typical but indescribably type of smell, sort of sour. Than they start to pant and things turn a little grim. Dogs breath with their mouth open, cats use their nose. So seeing a cat breath by their mouth with a tongue sticking out is never a great sight.
All I can do is drive safely and as fast as possible to the nearest veterinarian, so that the animals don’t have to suffer too much before treatment.
I also noticed that cats absolutely hate tunnels. They just start to miauw very vigorously when we enter one. We got not much choice, however, so we just try to get out of it quick enough.
How To Travel With Your Cat
But there are some solutions to minimize the drama and to make for the best comfort of your cat to be transported.
- Big enough cat carrier (cage)
- Diaper instead of towel
- No food before travel
- Calming Products
Big Enough Cat Carrier
If your cat is medium sized, then don’t put them in a tiny box with little space to move around. Cats will easily get claustrophobic. You wouldn’t want to sit in a too small cage, so you don’t do this to your cat either. They simply need to be able to move around a little to find the comfortable position to sit in while traveling.
Cats are also very clean, so they hate to sit in their own feces or urine, if they happen to have an accident. So having enough room in their carrier, means they don’t need to sit in their own productions during the journey.
Diaper Instead of Towel
People would advice to use a towel, but if you manage to get your hands on some of these special diapers that veterinarians use, than you will feel it is way more effective. The special diapers tend to ‘stick’ to the cat carrier, so that they don’t glide away. Using towels usually means that they get kicked into the back of the cage.
Our veterinarian recently threw a towel that was soaked by urine and feces. Ugh. I don’t like to throw away towels too often, so I am considering to invest in these special diapers for our veterinarian visits.
No Food Before Travel
If you can manage this at all, try to not let your cat eat food some hours before travel. This will reduce the chance of accidents with feces in the cat carrier. What do they say to humans again before operations in the hospital? 24 hours? I know, it is a long time, so perhaps not 24 hours.
I wouldn’t do this with drinks, as drinks are important for the body. You could still reduce it, by not giving anything to drink 1-2 hours before travel. Note however that if your cat has urinary tract problems, your veterinarian needs to check for urine in the bladder and so needs some urine there to even be able to diagnose the cat.
There is a number of products that can calm your cat while being transported in the car. There is calming medicine you can get on prescription from your veterinarian clinic. There are also special sprays with pheromone content, that will calm your cat down. You simply use the product on the towel or diaper within the cat carrier or use it on the cage itself.
Alternatively there is a collar that you can put on your cat’s neck that will reduce stress overall. I am not the biggest fan of collars, but this collar has also an automatic release system in case the cat gets stuck.
A great idea is to choose the veterinarian that is closest to you, so you don’t have to drive very long with your cat. But if you don’t have that option you are stuck with going the long distance.
In some places in the world, you can let the veterinarian come to you, instead of you traveling with your cat.
Some cats prefer to have their ‘partner’ or friend with them, so allow multiple cats to be transported together. Often veterinarians have better pricing when you arrive with two cats instead of one too. Of course you should notify your veterinarian that you are coming with two rather than one.
What are your experiences with cat travel? Please share them below!