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It's no surprise that most cats dislike car rides. Unlike their canine counterparts, cats don't get to stick their heads out the window or take fun trips to the dog park. Instead, cats usually associate cars with a dreaded visit to their nemesis, the vet.
While it's unlikely you'll be able to teach your tiny tiger to love cars, you can help create a positive association and make your next car ride a more pleasant experience for you and Smudge. So, how do you train a cat to like car rides? Here are a few tips to make your next cat-friendly car ride a little easier.
"Unfurtunately", not all cats will learn to love car rides. Some pet parents may be unaware that cats can get motion sickness, which can be caused by stress and anxiety and could result in vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.
If you're worried about letting your cat roam around your car, consider placing them on a leash. You can also try feeding them in the car for a week to help them get used to being in the car.
By making your cat more comfortable during your travels, you can reduce the chances of motion sickness. If motion sickness is a real issue with Felix, contact your vet, who may be able to prescribe some medication. Do not give your cat nausea medication without consulting a vet.
Whenever traveling with a cat in a car, always keep them in their crate. Letting a cat loose in a car could distract you when driving and cause severe injuries if your little lion gets in an accident.
The main defining task is to crate train your cat, which will help them feel safe and reduce your cat's anxiety and stress.
It's also a good idea to let your cat familiarize themselves with your car so they feel at home. Consider letting your cat roam around your car for a while so they can scent the upholstery.
If possible, get your cat used to a car from as young as possible. Kittens are much more accepting than adult cats, making it easier to build a positive association. Crate training is also easier from a young age.
Placing the carrier for your kitten to explore, putting their favorite bedding in the crate, and putting catnip in the crate are all great ways of helping your cat adjust.
After you feel like your cat is used to their crate and your vehicle, it's a good idea to do a few practice runs to see how your cat reacts. Try driving around the block and turning your engine on and off.
These short runs will also help avoid a negative association with cars caused by only visiting the vets. If your cat stays calm, you can extend your journey a little. However, if your cat shows signs of stress, then take them home to avoid creating a negative association.
There are a couple of different training methods below, but you'll probably want to combine them for the best "pawssible" results.
The Crate Training Method
Train your cat to accept their crate by leaving it around your house for your cat to explore. Put their favorite bedding and toy in the crate, and consider sprinkling it with catnip.
Let your cat explore your car so they can scent and get used to their surroundings. You can also feed your cat in the car for a while or sprinkle some catnip to help them adjust.
Put the crate in the car
Put your cat in their crate and place them in the car. Leave them in the car for a few minutes, watching for signs of stress.
Take your cat for a car ride
Once your cat sits in their crate in the car without showing signs of stress or anxiety, they should be okay to go for a car ride.
The Practice Run Method
Ensure your cat is well adjusted to their crate and your car.
Take your cat for a quick drive around the block. If your cat shows signs of stress, take them back home.
Once your cat seems happy enough in the car, extend each journey little by little.
After a while, you can try a practice run to somewhere your cat hates, like the vets. By doing so, you'll be able to test if your cat is comfortable at higher speeds going somewhere they know.
Stress-free car rides
After successfully taking your cat for a long practice drive without any signs of stress, your cat should be happy to travel by car.
By Adam Lee-Smith
Published: 07/07/2021, edited: 07/07/2021