Some cats really don’t enjoy traveling in a car at all. Whether it’s a short trip to the vet’s or a road trip across country to stay with family, they can become visibly distressed, yowl loudly, and scratch their carrier in an attempt to escape. This situation can be stressful for owners too!
Luckily, there are a few different tips and tricks that you can try to make those essential trips less stressful for you both. In this article, learn how to calm a cat down while we count down the 12 proven ways to keep your cat calm in the car.
A few of these tips need to be done before you travel, and of course, that’s not always possible if you must make an unscheduled trip to the vet’s. We’ve also included plenty of tips that don’t need any preparation.
The 12 Proven Ways to Calm a Cat in the Car
1. Use a familiar cat carrier
It’s a good idea to familiarize your cat with their cat carrier before you use it. Expecting your cat to accept a carrier that smells new and unfamiliar will add another layer of stress to their journey. If you can, leave the carrier out in your house for at least a week before you need to use it. Place one of your cat’s favorite beds in there or an item of your clothing to leave a comforting scent. You can try putting treats or catnip in there too and allow your cat to explore their carrier in their own time.
Whether you use a hard or soft carrier is up to you, and you can read our cat carrier reviews to give you ideas. If your cat gets stressed and claws at their carrier, then a hard carrier made from plastic will be best, as they can stand up to robust use and you won’t have to worry about your cat ripping the fabric like you might with a soft carrier.
2. Use a pheromone spray, collar, or wipes.
Artificial pheromones can be effective in helping your cat feel less anxious and stressed. Pheromone collars are clinically proven to reduce stress-related behaviors, but you can also get pheromone sprays and wipes that achieve the same effect. You can spray these inside your cat’s carrier or wipe them on surfaces within your car. This can help reduce your cat’s anxiety and help them cope better with the stress of travel.
Related Read: How to Sedate a Cat for Car Travel
3. Try a different type of carrier
This tip won’t work for all cats, but some cats prefer feeling less restricted while they’re traveling. Of course, we wouldn’t recommend leaving your cat loose in the car, but using something like the Cat-in-the-bag E-Z-Zip Cat Carrier can transform journeys into a more relaxed experience. Your cat’s head is free to look around, but their body is contained by a soft cotton bag. This carrier has a handle that you can secure to your car’s seatbelt.
4. Use herbal remedies for anxiety
Some cats respond well to herbal remedies. Bach Rescue Remedy Stress Relief Pet Supplement is a homeopathic solution designed to help keep your cat calm. You can add a few drops to their water or food for a day or so before travel. Ark Natural Happy Traveler Cat Treats contain chamomile, valerian, and St. John’s Wort, which all work together to reduce anxiety.
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5. Stay in your cat’s eye line
Some cats will feel more stressed if they can’t see their owner, so rather than put your cat’s carrier on the rear seat where they can’t see you, experiment with placing it somewhere within your line of sight. Having someone sit next to your cat can help reassure them that they’re with someone familiar.
6. Talk to your cat
Some cats find the noise of their owner’s voice reassuring, this might be the best way to travel with a cat. Experiment to see if talking to your cat helps them calm down. Use a gentle tone of voice, and of course, it doesn’t matter what you talk about. If there are multiple passengers in the car, then the sound of conversation can help soothe your cat.
7. Play calming music
Having background music can help some cats, especially if you choose music that they’re used to hearing at home in a relaxed environment. You can even find channels with cat-calming playlists! This is especially important if your car has a loud exhaust system, as it helps to provide a soothing constant sound that drowns out the more erratic noise of your car as it speeds up and slows down.
8. Pet your cat if possible
This tip won’t work for all cats and will also depend on the type of carrier that you use. Some cats feel instantly calmer from the reassuring touch of their human. So, if you’re not the one driving the car but are sitting next to your cat on the back seat, see if they appreciate a soothing stroke. Certain cat carriers make for easy petting. Soft carriers often have a smaller zipped opening so you can pet your cat without worrying about them escaping.
9. Tire your cat out before travel
If you know that you’ll be taking a car trip with your cat, then it can be a good idea to spend the time getting rid of their excess energy before you get in the car. Encourage your cat to chase their favorite toys and run around the house before putting them in their carrier for the journey.
10. Keep your car at a comfortable temperature
Keeping your car’s interior at a comfortable temperature will make traveling feel better for your cat. Using the air conditioning or heater is a great way to make your cat as comfortable as possible. Keep bathroom stops short, and remember that the interior temperature of your car will quickly return to the ambient outside temperature once you turn your car off. If you do have to stop, make sure someone can stay with your cat.
11. Drive carefully
You probably already do this, but be mindful of how you approach corners and how smoothly you brake. Your cat won’t have any prior warning of changes in speed or direction, and if there are sudden sharp stops or turns, then these can be difficult for your cat to brace themselves against. Make sure you secure your cat’s carrier by attaching it to a seatbelt.
12. Speak to your cat’s veterinarian
If you’ve tried various combinations of all the above tips and nothing seems to be working, it might be a good time to speak to your veterinarian. They can sometimes prescribe motion sickness medication or anti-anxiety medication to make your cat’s essential car journeys easier for you both.
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Featured Image Credit: Raindom, Pixabay
- The 12 Proven Ways to Calm a Cat in the Car
- 1. Use a familiar cat carrier
- 2. Use a pheromone spray, collar, or wipes.
- 3. Try a different type of carrier
- 4. Use herbal remedies for anxiety
- 5. Stay in your cat’s eye line
- 6. Talk to your cat
- 7. Play calming music
- 8. Pet your cat if possible
- 9. Tire your cat out before travel
- 10. Keep your car at a comfortable temperature
- 11. Drive carefully
- 12. Speak to your cat’s veterinarian