Is Traveling OK for My Anxious Cat?

Find out how to calm your cat.

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Dear Dr. Plotnick,

I want to travel, but my cat freaks out if I put her in the car or in a travel box. I recently went away for a week and left her home with someone to check on her. It made her insecure. She still won't leave my side, and when I go to leave, she howls. How safe is it physically and emotionally to force her to ride in a car for eight hours if she is so upset?

Gaye Shulman
Via email

 

Dear Gaye,

As a general rule, cats do not like to travel. While its not dangerous physically or emotionally to take a protesting cat on an eight-hour car trip, its certainly upsetting for owners to witness their anxious cat.

For a short trip, having someone come by your apartment to feed and check on her is reasonable. Apparently this is not an option for you if you plan on going away longer, considering how insecure she became during your recent trip. Ultimately, I do think that taking your cat with you is a better alternative. I am not a big fan of giving tranquilizers or sedatives to cats. I have found that Feliway, a pheromone product, usually makes travel less upsetting for nervous cats. If you spray Feliway on a towel that you put in the carrier, it tends to calm cats. It makes them think that they've marked this item before, so it must be a familiar, secure place. They also make this product in a diffuser that you plug into the wall. The diffuser disperses the pheromone throughout the living space, and again, it has a calming effect on the cat. I find this product to be useful in helping cats to acclimate to a new environment more quickly and less stressfully. Ask your veterinarian about these products.

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Reader Comments

Dawn    Pontoon Beach, IL

1/21/2012 5:26:03 PM

I am going to be moving in 11 days and my male cat is use to long distance in a carrier to a point only issue he has is meowing the whole time. Where as my female a F2 Bengal has no issues. Should I Tranquilize HiM~WE HAVE 11- DAYS. ITs only a 4 1/2 hour drive one way. And we are moving..

Sharon    Grants Pass, OR

12/15/2011 6:12:21 PM

My cat loves to travel.
we have a van and he gets under the bench seat and stays there until evening unless he has to go to the bathroom. we have a potty box for him as well as well as dishes of food and water if he needs them. (I realize that some cats cannot eat or drink while traveling.)He usually stays under the bench seat until we get to our destination. It is his choice. He does come out and lets us know when he has used hus box and we should stop and clean it. He talks to us until we get stopped and clean the box. When he is satified he goes back under the bench seat.

linda    st petersburg, FL

6/29/2010 8:08:25 PM

We have 2 mature cats. A trip to the vet is quite a concert. We are moving them with us on a 2 hour drive. Last road trip 3 years ago required meds. We really do not want to medicate them, however, would like to not have them singing totaly off key in our ear for 2-3 hours.
Any natural suggestions

e    e, WA

5/6/2009 2:10:30 PM

My cats don't like trips.

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