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How to Calm Down a Cat in the Car: 8 Vet-Approved Ways

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Scottish fold cat inside pet carrier in car

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

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The world is rapidly changing. So are pet owners. What does this mean? More and more of them are deciding that traveling with their cats is something they want to attempt. Is this a smart idea? Well, that depends on the cat. Some cats prefer to keep their fuzzy tails at home and never see the inside of the car. Others are ready for any adventure you decide you’re ready to embark on.

While your kitty may not love being in the car, especially if they’ve associated it with trips to the vet, that doesn’t mean you can’t change their outlook on things. Below you’ll find 8 possible ways you can calm your cat down in the car. When the time comes to hit the open road with your feline bestie, give these tips a try so you can make things easier for them from the beginning.

The 8 Ways to Calm Down a Cat in the Car

1. Get Them Acquainted With the Pet Carrier

travel with cat carrier
Photo Credit: Natalia Fedosova, Shutterstock

Before taking off on any trip with your cat, let them get acquainted with their pet carrier. You may not realize it, but cats are a lot like us. They aren’t big fans of being stuck in a small area they aren’t familiar with. If you want to make car trips easier, let them spend a bit of time in the carrier. Perhaps they’ll want to lounge around, sleep, or even play inside. This will help them feel more comfortable when you close the door and load them into the car.


2. Ask About Calming Meds for Your Cat

If you’re worried that your kitty won’t do well on a trip, perhaps it’s best to go ahead and speak with your veterinarian about using calming medications. For the health of your cat, your vet should be involved when it comes to any medications you give your cat. According to your cat’s temperament, they may feel it best to use sedatives, especially for long trips.


3. Use Playtime to Tucker Your Cat Out

Cat playing with stuffed toy
Photo Credit: guvo59, Pixabay

Have you ever noticed that children sleep better when they’ve played hard? Try it with your cat, you’ll notice things are very similar. If you’re worried that your cat will have a fit while in the car, use playtime to your advantage. Keep your cat active in the hours leading up to the trip and don’t let them nap. They are more likely to climb in their carrier and sleep throughout the trip if you use fun to your advantage.


4. Familiar Smells Are Calming

Using bedding, blankets, and even toys that your cat is familiar with may be another way to keep them calm on long trips. If you hope to use this method to your advantage, ensure you choose the right items. Your cat may not feel comfortable if you simply toss any household blanket into its carrier.


5. Keep Your Cat Close

Maine coon eyes wide open inside carrier in car
Photo Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

During a stressful situation, you could be the medicine for your pet. If you’re going to be driving and unable to be there to spend time with your cat during the trip, try to keep them as close to you as you possibly can. You can also try talking with your cat while you’re driving. Your scent, voice, and mere presence will make the trip easier for both of you.


6. Practice Makes Purrfect

When you’re faced with a long road trip with your cat a little practice may go a long way. Before the big day, take your cat out for short drives in their carrier. Sure, they may be a bit upset the first few times, but if you work with them, they may become more accustomed to traveling. This is especially handy when it comes to long trips.


7. Put Pheromones to Work

person spraying on cat
Photo Credit: Vaillery, Shutterstock

Have you ever tried calming pheromones for your kitty? If not, now could be the perfect time to start. These pheromones are sold in most places you buy cat supplies. You can spray a few spritzes into the carrier and car before taking off. While they can take several weeks to start working and they don’t work for every cat, you’ll never know how your cat will react until you give them a try.


8. Practice What You Preach

If you’re hoping for an easy trip with your cat, you need to be on the same page. If you show signs of stress or worry, your cat will most likely notice. This can make them act up or exhibit signs of stress during the trip. If you want things to go smoothly, practice what you preach and keep yourself in check.

Things to Remember

While calming your cat down is important when taking a road trip, there are a few other things you should remember before heading out on an adventure with a feline. Let’s take a look at a few of those now.

Take the Necessities

Cats aren’t people, no matter how much we think they are. They aren’t thrilled to try new things or taste life on the road. Instead of assuming you can simply grab what you need when you get there, make sure you take your cat’s favorite food along for the ride. The last thing you want is to arrive at your destination and deal with an upset cat because you can’t find the right kibble.

Is the Trip Right for Your Cat?

While you may want your cat to go everywhere with you, taking them on long trips isn’t always the best idea. If you aren’t going to be away for an extended period, perhaps it is best to allow someone to check in on your cat while you’re away. You may even have a relative or friend who doesn’t mind staying at your place. Cats aren’t fans of change, unless it’s unavoidable, it may be best to simply allow them to stay home.

Conclusion

Whether your cat is new to life on the road or you’re hoping to help them adjust to it, these 8 tips for calming your cat down in the car are useful for any kitty parent. Going on a short run to the vet or even to visit the groomers can be stressful. Avoiding too much anxiety will keep your cat happy and healthy wherever the two of you go.


Featured Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

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