In my articles I often say that you should take your cat to the vet at least once a year, or if you think they are sick or acting out of cha...

Skitt(en)ish Car Ride Cat

In my articles I often say that you should take your cat to the vet at least once a year, or if you think they are sick or acting out of character. But what if your cat is SKITTISH and FREAKS when you try to put them in the car? Here are some tips on riding in the car with cats.

Put your cat in a carrier while in the car for the safety of them, you, and other people. If they aren't secured in a carrier they could get jolted, tossed, hide under the brake pedal, or jump out of the window. Plus it's a huge distraction while driving! Duh.

Your cat should have an ID collar or microchip before you take them outside. If they are normally indoor cats they could get scared and make a break for it.

Make sure you have the right cat carrier. They have lots of varieties that are hard or soft, the kind you decide on just depends on the type of cat you have. It should be large enough for them to lay down, turn around, and stand in. It should be well ventilated too. If you are going on a long car ride make sure it's big enough for food and water and possibly a litter box. Disposable litter trays are perfect for long car rides because you can just toss them.

You want to make sure the door to the carrier has a good latch. If the top snaps on you want to make sure it can't get loose under any circumstance. My vet told us the story of a cat owner that was in the parking lot of the clinic, he put the cat carrier down while he went to close the car door and the cat got out an ran into the street, so make sure the hard top lids are attached with twist ties or zip ties as an extra precaution.

We have this carrier for Vicktor since he's a bigger cat. We've added extra zip ties for safety.

The carrier itself should be as pleasant as possible. If I know my cats have a vet visit, I take their carriers out about a week beforehand and make sure they are clean. You can leave the door open for the cats to explore them. I line the bottom with an old sweater, PJ bottoms or their favorite blanket to make it smell familiar. You can throw in a favorite toy or add some Feliway spray to calm their nerves too.

Once they are in the carrier, place them in the car and sit with them in the driveway for a few minutes, then go back inside and reward them with a treat so they can associate it with a positive experience. Make sure to seat belt the carrier into the car too. If possible try to place them where they can see you.  Don't forget to talk to them. Remind them you are there. Slowly extend the time in the drive way, eventually working your way to driving around the block. Always reward them with a treat afterwards. Eventually you can make the trips longer.

If that doesn't work you can talk to your vet about getting a sedative or see if they make house calls. You wouldn't want to be woken up from a nap only to be forced into a box and taken to a strange place where they poke and prod you, why would your cat? Hopefully these tips will help.