Ways to ease car trips for your cat

A cat’s feelings of contentment are based on familiarity, security and experience of repeated positive events. If feeding happens at the same time every day, the pet cat will not lunge at the plate and wolf down the food like a feral cat. Knowing the food isn’t a furtive bite of garbage in some alley needed to survive, the pet cat will eat slowly and experience good digestion and better health.

The same applies when it is necessary to take your cat for a car ride. Have you ever seen the TV scenes where a cat, complete with goggles, sits calmly on the back seat of a fast-moving motorcycle? That didn’t just happen. The owner had to acclimate the cat by stages, first just putting the animal on the seat of a stationary motorcycle, and getting it to stay there, usually with a few treats as rewards. Then, after several sitting sessions, the owner moved the motorcycle around gently. Eventually, the cat became the willing and photogenic backseat companion on the road.

You should try the same technique before your cat must ride in your car, whether it is just a short trip to the vet or a long family road excursion. Put the cat on the front or back seat, leave the door open, and give the cat a treat. Praise the cat and repeat the process several times, then do it with the door closed.

Drive around on trips of just a minute or two, continuing the treat and praise routines. Because of shedding and for the convenience of human passengers, you may want to put the traveling cat in a low-cut box or basket. Line it with some cloth that the cat has used in its home sleeping area.

With all that said, some owners can never train the cat to cooperate. The animal may go into a panic when in a moving vehicle, possibly resulting in injury to the cat and humans in the car. If that’s your situation, don’t keep forcing the issue. Get a cage large enough for the cat to stand up and move around, add comfortable and familiar cloth and padding to the inside bottom. Just before the car trip begins, put the cat in and keep it there until the trip is over.

It may be possible to reduce the uncooperative cat’s panic. Before the car trip, set the cage near her usual sleeping place at home for several days. Keep the cage door open, and put some treats inside. If you’re lucky, the cat will walk in and out several times, resulting in less nervousness when it’s time to cage the cat for the trip.

One more warning concerning the long, long car trip with your cat. Whenever your cat is out of the car in unfamiliar surroundings, be sure it is on a leash. Most cats hate leashes, but it is necessary for those times. As with other aspects of car trips, you should acclimate the cat to the leash by training sessions before your trip.

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