Cats don't make great travel companions. They won't sit down and look out the car window to appreciate the view. Instead, they're more likely to claw your hair out in fear and frustration. Taking Kitty out on a trip? There are ways to calm him down and prepare him.
Choose a carrier that makes him feel safe in order to keep Kitty from having a heart attack when to take him out of the house and into the car. A carrier that's almost completely enclosed, with a couple small windows to peek out is the best option for a cat. A dog might want a huge mesh window to observe everything, but to a cat, a big window means predators will see him more easily --and that's a cue for getting more anxious and stressed out. Cover the carrier with a blanket to make it more dungeon-like --Kitty will appreciate the secrecy. Never try to carry Kitty out of the house just in your arms or in a blanket. It's just too easy for disaster to strike that way.
Give Fluffy a few drops of Rescue Remedy, available at health food stores. This is a natural remedy created using flower essences and available in both human and pet form. In fact, a study by the University of Miami School of Nursing found that Rescue Remedy lowers anxiety, helps fight stress and improves emotional balance. For Kitty, that could mean the difference between a peaceful trip and arriving to his destination as a ball of nerves. Can't find the pet version? The human version would do. Just make sure you buy the alcohol-free option --Or Fluffy might end up a bit tipsy from the whole adventure.
Drug Kitty, but only the safe way. Forget pills, shots or other strong drugs you can get from your vet. Instead, try catnip. That's right --catnip has a calming effect on cats after the initial "go crazy" stage. Want to make the next trip a much better one? Sprinkle some catnip inside the carrier or buy Kitty a new catnip toy and throw him inside the carrier just before you take off.
- Sedatives should only be considered as a last option, especially if you're flying. High altitude and drugs don't mix well, and you can end up with a very sick --or worse-- kitty. Talk to your vet if you're considering sedation and discuss the pros and cons, especially if your cat is old, ill or just not in his best, strongest form.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.