Travelling with cats might be a little daunting, as they are independent creatures and like to go out and explore on their own!
However, there are times when it is necessary for your cat to travel with you and the responsibility will be yours to make sure they are safe, calm and comfortable!
The following 6 tips will help you both on your journeys.
6 Steps For Happy Kitty Travel
1. Keep Your Kitty Safe
Just as you would not dream of carrying a child in the car without a safety harness, the same applies to your kitty!
Keeping your pet safe, by putting them into a secure carrier, is the best option. Choosing a safe carrier with a wire mesh, and good air holes is important - make sure it is big enough for your kitty to move around a little, but snug enough to make them feel comfortable and secure - and check you can position it safely in your car; on the floor, or strapped in.
2. Create A Positive Association!
As you know, cats like to do things in their own time and on their terms! So before travelling with your feline friend, try to give them some time to gradually adapt to their carrier; leaving it in a safe place in the house, with the door open so they can explore in their own time. If your cat is happy and familiar with a carrier before they travel, they will have a positive association and will not become stressed when it's time to go!
It may also help to allow your cat to sit near the car (if possible) so that they learn it is just a normal part of their life. Giving your kitty a reward for keeping calm around the carrier and car will also help them to realise that they have nothing to fear, so they can travel relaxed!
Of course, the more you take your pet travelling, the more relaxed they will become. Just try to take lots of journeys to positive kitty places - not just the vet! - so that your pet doesn't develop a negative association!
3. Encourage Your Cat To See The Car As 'Their Space'
Cats are territorial and sensitive to their environment. They also like to do what is comforting and familiar to them so the more often they use the carrier and travel in the car, the more they will relax and see it as 'their space'. Before you travel anywhere, try taking your pet into the car and turn on the engine so that they don't get spooked by an unfamiliar noise. Do this a few times before you travel any distance and remember to reward your cat when they stay calm. Read further information about how to travel with your cat in the car here.
Cats also like to be surrounding by familiar things. If you can use your cat's preferred blanket in the carrier then this will be calming for them. It can also help to put a favourite toy in the carrier with them to make them feel more at home and distract them.
4. Try Food To Encourage Your Pet
A cat will soon associate an area or space as their dining area if they are fed there regularly! So, try feeding your cat inside the car for a few days before you travel to help them associate the car with nice things; it will soon become part of their territory and help them relax.
5. Start Small
Once your furry friend is comfortable and relaxed in the stationary car and you have started the engine a few times to get them used to a new sound, you will have to think about travel and the movement of the car. This is best introduced slowly! Start the car and move just a little to help them get used to the motion; remember your cat will not be used to the feeling, or seeing everything pass by a window at speed, so take it slowly and calmly. Don't forget to reward them with treats too, so they start to look forward to their next adventure!
6. Keep To Routine and Be Prepared
Cats are creatures of habit and they like their routine so it's important to keep to this routine as much as possible, particularly on long trips. Ensure your cats have their food at the same time as they would at home, and set aside time for their regular play time with their favourite toys.
When you prepare for a journey together, put your cat's blankets, bedding and toys in the crate well ahead of time. Don't forget to bring a kitty drink (you can get water dispensers that hang on the inside of the crate), and be prepared for toilet accidents with some litter and pet-friendly wipes too.
Finally, be prepared that your kitty's first few car journeys might not go as smoothly as you would wish. They might cry constantly, get motion sickness or show other signs of stress. If this happens, go back a step and try to encourage them to accept the car as a safe place to be.
Keep Travel Calm With FELIWAY
Spray the inside of the carrier and car with at least 8-10 sprays of FELIWAY CLASSIC Spray 15 minutes before you pop them inside. This will help create a comfortable and relaxed carrier for your purrfect friend and, with the other tips above, you should both have a relaxed journey.