The car is all packed, the kids are buckled in, there are snacks and drinks within easy reach, there is a road map in the glove compartment, and there are enough CDs to get through the trip without having to endure the same three songs repeated on the radio every hour. You are just pulling out the driveway when you hear it. That horrid mewling that sounds like someone in the back seat is slaying the cat. You know it won’t take long as you pull onto the highway, edging up the stereo just a little more. It doesn’t matter, because you’ve been in the car for less than fifteen minutes and that original horrid mewling would be a welcome relief compared to the squalling cries that your feline friend has belted out. You still have six hours to go and you know he has a lot more juice in him than that. Traveling with a cat can be a living nightmare for some kitties.
It’s becoming more popular to bring your pet on vacation with you. With pet friendly hotels and the accepting nature of long distance relatives, you may find yourself traveling with a cat more often than not in the upcoming years. That is, to say the least, if you can figure out how to prevent the shrieking yawl that has the kids covering their ears and begging to for their first rest stop within half an hour of leaving the driveway. It can be enough to make you turn the car around.
Fortunately, there are numerous little tricks you can try before your next road trip. However, not all disgruntled felines will take to anything other than their beloved home, and you may want to consider the quality of the trip in full for those guys who refuse to be comforted.
To rule out general dissatisfaction and loneliness as a main cause for the ruckus your cat is insisting on creating, try keeping the carrier (he is in a pet carrier, isn’t he?) close enough to allow a human that he really likes to reach in from time to time and let him know that he is not alone. For some cats, this is really all it takes. Others seem to be insisting on their own personal private suite for the next traveling go around.
Cats are really quite unique creatures. No two are alike and their personalities can range from dog like companionship to aloof creatures that show up for food and their occasional scratch on the head. How your cat relates to you and how much interaction he prefers will determine, in part, how well he handles traversing the world as your companion.
Cats should always go inside the carrier. Even lap friendly cats who are more than content to roam around the car while you tick the miles off need to be confined for their own safety. Some cats will ultimately go crazy at the thought of enduring a car ride. These cats are usually better off left at home or sedated if the trip is necessary.
Keeping your cat safe is the number one priority. Cat carriers, hotel rooms with pet privacy (which is nothing more than a do not disturb sign and the ability to refuse house keeping services) and some sort of safe confinement while you are out of the room. If you are landing at a relative’s or a friend’s house, you are still going to want to ensure that he can’t escape, especially if there are other animals in the home.
Keeping your cat happy while keeping him safe is not an easy task. He needs to be confined, which can be torturous on a cat that hasn’t adjusted to the carrier. Introducing him to the idea of the carrier well before a trip for random periods of time is highly recommended. Traveling with a cat is so much easier when your cat has a basic understanding of what is happening around him.
The actual act of traveling, whether by car or by plane, is absolutely the most difficult part of the trip for 98% of cat traveling companions. Some cats can be comforted through the bars of the pet carrier while others will actually claw, bite, or scratch at any attempting fingers which reach through the slatted bars in an effort to help console him. How he handles his fear will determine his actions. Never let children try to comfort the cat until after you know how he will react.
Other cats may be more content with a few safe toys and other familiar belongings littered throughout his carrier. Some cats prefer to be completely covered; a blanket over the carrier will serve nicely for the kitty who doesn’t wish to see his world go whizzing by. Other cats are more interested in their whereabouts and thus feel the need to peak out the windows of the car to feel like they are in control. Finding out what works well for your cat is a matter of trial and error. A few short trips in the months before the bug trip will definitely help you figure out what will ultimately work best.
If your cat requires the chronic use of sedatives before taking a trip, you may want to consider whether trips are better for him, or better for you. Sedatives shouldn’t be handed out lightly.
If you know that you are going to be traveling with a cat from the beginning, start car training you cat as early as possible. Small trips here and there (never leave a cat unattended in a car, especially in warm or cold weather) is all it takes to get him used to the idea of traveling right from the very start.