Every cat will need to be taken out in the car in a carrier from time to time, even if this is just to the vets once a year for their annual check-up and booster vaccinations! Cats may also have to travel at other times too, such as if you take your cat on holiday with you, or when you move home.
Because cats don’t like traveling and often get stressed out about it, many cat owners simply try to get the whole thing out of the way as quickly as possible, placing the cat in their carrier at the last minute and getting the whole thing over and done with ASAP! However, this stress on the part of the owner can soon rub off on the cat too, and lead to a few errors and mistakes of judgement when it comes to knowing how to transport a cat safely and with as little stress as possible.
In this article, we will share seven common mistakes that cat owners often make when it comes to transporting their cats, and better alternatives to make things as stress-free as possible! Read on to learn more.
The first time that your cat gets into their carrier should not be when you are bundling them into it, frantically trying to shut the door behind them without catching their tails! If your carrier only comes out once a year, the carrier itself is likely to cause your cat stress, as it is an alien environment for them that will not smell or feel familiar.
Many cat carriers have a removable door or top half, and so keeping the carrier out in your home and accessible to your cat at all times is a good idea; use it as a cat bed, and keep familiar smelling blankets and bedding in it. A small, enclosed bed or box like a carrier is something that most cats like, and so allowing them to investigate and get comfortable with the carrier in their home before travelling can help to make them more relaxed and comfortable.
Food or treats can be useful to get your cat to come in when you want them to and get them into the carrier, but feeding your cat just before a journey or when they are in the carrier is a bad idea. Not only will they need to go to the toilet later on, but a full tummy followed by a car journey, something that most cats are not used to, can also contribute to travel sickness.
It is fine to give your cat a couple of treats once they are in the carrier, but do not feed your cat a full meal right before travel!
Many cats will be quite vocal in their carrier and when underway in the car, scratching at the door and asking to be let out. Some cat owners think that letting their cat out of the carrier can help to make their cat more comfortable, but this is a bad idea for many reasons. A cat in their carrier is secure, both literally and in terms of feeling safer with the walls around them, while a loose cat in the car can soon cause mayhem for the driver, and moving around and seeing the scenery whizzing past the windows may make the cat feel sick too.
It is ok to stroke your cat in the carrier if you can do this without them getting out, but unless your cat is on a harness and lead and will sit calmly away from the driver, do not think that the best course of action is to let them out.
Cats need fresh air and good circulation in the carrier, but carriers that are very exposed in terms of openings, mesh walls or vents will not make your cat feel very secure. Placing a light fabric cover over the carrier to make it feel more enclosed to your cat may seem counterintuitive, but it can actually help your cat to feel more secure and calm when on the move, providing that they can get enough air too.
Your cat should be able to sit up and turn around comfortably in their carrier, and so you may need to upgrade at some point from the carrier you used when your cat was a tiny kitten! However, using an overly large carrier for your cat, such as a dog crate or very big box may once again make your cat feel insecure, so choose a carrier that is not too big for them, or put a cardboard box or other hiding place inside of a larger carrier to make your cat feel happier.
A carrier that is very large will also mean that your cat will be more apt to be thrown around if you brake suddenly or swerve, which can also be dangerous and increase the risk of injury to your cat.
When transporting your cat in the car, you should secure the carrier with a seatbelt or other attachment to keep it in place, and to prevent it getting thrown about on the move. You might think that having the carrier on your lap will make your cat happier, but this will feel rather precarious to your cat, and will offer no protection in the case of an accident. It is much better to secure the carrier into a seat, and sit next to it where you can keep an eye on it.
Both you and your cat might be keen to get the journey over and done with as soon as possible, but it is important to drive at a steady pace and drive sensibly in order to get there safely and with the minimum of stress! Always drive with your cat in mind, cornering and braking gently and not doing anything that might make the journey more stressful than it has to be.