Whether your cat helps you run your daily errands, or joins you on longer journeys at holiday time, making sure they’re happy travelers is crucial. Here are some handy tips to help make journeys run smoothly for the both of you!
1. Always use a pet travel carrier
It should be large enough for your cat to stand up, turn around, and lie down comfortably in. We recommend hard sided or sturdy fabric carriers for adequate support and protection. Also be sure that the carrier has proper ventilation. It should be fixed securely in your car so any movement whilst driving is kept to a minimum; in the back seat, away from airbags.
2. Associate carrier and car with all things good
Cats are very sensitive to their environment and territory is important. Take time to familiarize your cat with the carrier, starting with using it in your house. Place his bedding, some of his favorite cat toys (see opposite), or maybe some catnip or kibble in the carrier. Keep the door open and let your cat go in and out as he pleases until he seems comfortable with it.
Your car will become part of your cat’s territory too. For familiarity and comfort, place a towel or blanket that has his scent on it inside the car. Safely put him in the car with you and close the doors. Give him a few minutes to explore, rub around and spread scent. Commit to doing this every day at least a week before your trip, increasing the time he spends in the car. Then move on to feeding or playing with him in the car, whatever motivates him more!
Once you’ve mastered the carrier and the car, it’s time to combine the two! Secure the carrier and turn on your engine to let your cat get used to the sounds and vibration. Do this several times a day until your cat seems comfortable with it, and remember to reward him as soon as you take him out of his carrier.
3. Start moving
Now you’re ready to move! Ideally, start by backing up and down your driveway or going around the block a few times. Then take your cat into the house for rewards and play time. Gradually extend the length and duration of your journeys, with rewards after each to positively reinforce the experience for him.
4. Rest breaks
If you’re traveling long distances at a time, you’ll need to consider stopping for potty breaks. When stopped and the car windows and doors are closed, let your cat out of the carrier and provide him with a litter box in the car. Some cat parents have harness trained their cats so they can walk them at rest areas to use up some energy and stretch their legs. If this isn’t for you, we recommend keeping your drive to 8 hours at the most for maximum comfort.
5. Stay calm
Perhaps the most important tip of all! Your cat is very sensitive to your energy, so throughout the entire travel-training process, it’s important for you to be patient with him and remain calm. We know – easy to say, not always so easy to do – but if you’re stressed and frustrated, your cat will be too!
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