Travelling by car with your cat
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Travelling by car with your cat

Cats
General

Most cats associate the appearance of a cat carrier as heralding a trip to the vet, but sometimes there are other reasons why your cat needs to travel and it is important to consider all aspects of your pet's safety and comfort at these times. Cats that are shown regularly from a young age tend to become resigned to the travelling experience although they will often still try and hide as soon as the carrier appears, and then complain loudly and bitterly on the journey, although they will be absolutely fine as soon as they arrive at their destination!Cats are very home and territory orientated and so will not relish being confined in a box for the length of the journey, but it is absolutely essential that cats do not travel 'loose', even with a harness and lead. They need to feel safe in a strange environment, and a loose cat will probably panic and be very hard to restrain - they are very strong creatures when they put their minds to it, and you could also get badly bitten or scratched by your pet, however placid they normally are at home. If they are not confined to a carrier they could also dive under the foot pedals (which would be very dangerous), or distract the driver in other ways, or even escape out of an open window. If you're taking your cat on a very long journey (maybe as part of a house move, or on holiday), you might need to consider a larger mesh crate container in the back of your car, where you can also put a litter tray. For most shorter journeys, a small carrier will be best - one where the cat can turn round or change position easily, but where he will also feel secure and will not get thrown about if the car has to brake suddenly, although a cardboard carrier will not be sufficient for this purpose. Whatever size the container, it's important to put plenty of bedding in to cushion your pet during the journey, and also make sure that the fastening is strong enough to prevent the most determined cat from making a bid for freedom. It's best if each cat can have its own carrier for the journey if you have more than one cat - even those that normally get on well at home will sometimes fight if they get agitated, and this could do some damage in a confined space. If you are travelling for more than couple of hours or so, you may need to stop (with all car windows and doors shut), to offer your cat a litter tray or food and water. However, many cats will glare at you resolutely and refuse any offer of help, and if they are feeling stressed by the experience, they may relieve themselves in their carrier. If this happens, don't be cross with your pet - cats are normally such clean creatures, but if they are worried about what is happening, they may well act out of character. It's always worth lining the carrier with newspaper and a plastic carrier bag beneath the bedding so that any little accidents don't seep through into the fabric of the car, and take some spare bedding in case you need to change it during the journey. And don't forget to pack some 'wet wipes' and small rubbish bags to deal with any emergencies of this sort. It's a good idea not to feed your cat for two or three hours before travelling so that he is not sick on the journey - this is not only stressful for him in a confined space, but if you did not realise this was happening about the noise of the car, he could possibly choke. Another hazard to avoid during a journey is the use of a collar, as again, the cat could easily choke if he became tangled up in it. It is possible to get a tranquilliser from the Vet for your cat if you think he will be badly affected by car travel to the extent of being sick, although this is probably a last resort. Don't be tempted to give him any human medication, as it will be too strong. However, cats can sometimes become more anxious with a sedative, and so if you were thinking about using one, it would be a good idea to try it out beforehand, so that you can monitor the reaction. Cats will often yell loudly on a journey, but it's just their way of communicating their displeasure, and it will probably affect your eardrums more than the cat! Make sure that your cat is secured firmly in his carrier during the journey, and is not likely to fall off a seat if you go round a corner quickly. Try using the seat belts if you have placed the carrier on a seat, but if this doesn't work, elastic bungee straps should do the trick! Don't put your cat in the boot as he will be terrified by the noise as well as lack of air and light, and although you can wedge the carrier amongst your luggage with the seats put down in a hatchback (making sure there's adequate air circulating), he will be more comfortable placed on a seat.Another thing you will need to be careful about is ensuring that your cat doesn't get too hot during the journey, and if you don't have air conditioning in your car, you may need to have a window slightly open without causing a draught. If it's a very sunny day, it's a good idea to place a light cloth on top of the carrier to avoid the cat being in direct sunlight. And if you park for a stop on the way, don't forget that a car with all its glass can quickly become very hot, even on a moderate day, and your pet could die if he becomes overheated. This article has covered all the extreme situations that could occur on a car journey with your cat, but in the majority of cases, apart from some minor complaining, the journey will pass without any incident and you and your pet will arrive happily at the other end!

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