While we may see cats on Instagram traveling happily in cars, for most of them, being in a car is an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience, which usually comes with negative connotations, such as the dreaded trip to the vet.
If your cat is going to the vet, it will be stressed enough by the experience and whatever is ailing it, before adding in additional stress as a result of the car journey. While your cat may never ‘enjoy’ the car journey, here are some tips to make it as stress-free as possible.
Have a good cat carrier:
A good cat carrier is easy for the cat to comfortably sit in, get into and out of. Choose one that opens at the top and from the side to make the already-tense issue of getting your cat in there in the first place as straightforward and stress-free as possible. If you are traveling often by car, it is worth investing in one that is solid construction, so it can be restrained by a seat belt and the cat will not accidentally be squashed or squeezed during their journey. It is absolutely not a good idea to put the cat in the car without a carrier. They can startle, hide in gaps you didn’t know existed or find their way out or into the footwell, as well as being an added distraction to the driver.
Before attempting any car journeys, try placing the cat carrier somewhere your cat usually sits, and make it look super-cozy and inviting. Don’t force them to sit in it, but reward them with a treat if they do, so they begin to build positive associations with it. Make sure to clean it well after a trip to the vet, to ensure any residual smells are washed away.
Take Short Car Trips With Your Cat:
Get your cat used to being in the car with no ill consequences, by placing them in the carrier and taking them a short distance. Choose a quiet time of day and experiment with whereabouts in the car is the best seat for your cat. Some may prefer to be raised up to see out of the window, while others may prefer to have their carrier covered with a towel. Be sure to talk to your cat in calm and reassuring tones to ensure they feel safe with you.
Weight Checks in the Carrier:
If your cat is having their weight checked at the vet, see if you can do this at a quiet time, with your cat inside the carrier. Then deduct the weight of the carrier from the total weight to understand how much your cat weighs. Taking your cat for a monthly weigh-in can also help your cat to get used to the smells and sights at the vet office.
Schedule Your Visit Sensibly:
Unless it’s an emergency, try to schedule your vet trip for a time of day where there will be less traffic on the road and faster journey time, and when there will be fewer animals at the vet’s. Speak to receptionists who can advise with the best time for your vet trip.
Choose a Feline-Only Practice:
Some veterinarian offices have feline-only practices or clinics at certain times where you can be assured your cat won’t have the added stress of dogs to contend with.
Consider a Vet Housecall:
Many vets offer housecalls and if you know your cat will be especially stressed when it needs to be kept calm, consider having the vet come to you.
In Extreme Cases, Consider Sedation:
If your cat was feral or is simply too timid to tolerate a carrier or car journey, speak to your vet about having a supply of sedatives on hand so you can use them if you do need to get your cat to the vet. However, if your cat needs to be seen in an emergency, be sure to take veterinary advice before administering sedatives.
Angry Kitty At The Vet