Safe Car Travel with Cats to the Vet

Safe Car Travel with Cats

How to travel safely to the vet with your cat

Carriers can be a cat’s best friend — don’t let a trip to the vet stress you out.

Cats are sensitive, magnificent creatures and their trips to the vet don’t have to be miserable. For safe car travel with cats, take the time to get your feline buddy used to travel in a carrier before a wellness appointment or emergency.

Create a stress-free travel plan

What are the steps to ensure your cat isn’t super stressed out when you’re getting ready for a wellness or vet visit? It’ll be easiest if you prep for any travel in advance and recognize if your cat gets overstimulated.

Signs include: 

  • Dilated pupils
  • Ears back (you’ve seen this!)
  • Licking or other affection that gets too exuberant
  • Tail swishing

You may be able to avoid stress if your plan is buttoned up and you’ve done a few dress rehearsals. You don’t want your cat to associate travel with anything negative. Every pet owner’s plan and prep should start with making the carrier a positive place for felines. The carrier should never feel like a punishment for cats. You want your cat to have a positive reaction when you take out the carrier, and she shouldn’t immediately run away!

Another essential part of your plan for safe car travel with cats is getting used to going on adventures. Consider training your cat to wear a harness for walks and go on short rides in the car, so they get used to being outdoors and simply outside the home. Any of our staff may help with advice on the best harnesses for felines.

According to cat expert Jackson Galaxy, “The carrier is not the enemy. And if your cat gets in a carrier fifty times, but only one of those times he goes to the vet – not bad.”
Jackson’s five tips to change your cat’s perception that the carrier isn’t a place of dread

Resource: “Total Cat Mojo” by Jackson Galaxy 

1) Take the carrier apart

2) Use treats to lure to carrier

3) Then reconstruct the carrier

4) Pick up carrier w door closed and cat inside for a few seconds

5) Place the carrier in the car and go on a concise trip

If you suspect your feline is prone to getting nauseous in the car or has clear signs of motion sickness when you go on short car rides, you should talk to your vet about medication that cats can take a few hours before heading to the vet appointment.

Disclaimer: If the weather is warm and you’re worried about traveling in the car with your feline, ask the vet if you can drop her immediately rather than wait in the car for your turn if your vet practices curbside visits.

Crate or carrier?

According to ‘Love to Know‘ experts, what to look for in a cat carrier is very straightforward. There are hard-sided crates and soft-shelled crates. Decide which you think is safest but also most comfortable for your feline buddy. Many cat owners like soft-sided crates as they’re easiest when traveling short distances.

  • A top-opening cage is much easier when you get to the vet office. Removing a cat from the top of the carrier rather than the front is less stressful for the cat.
  • Cross ventilation is essential, so look for mesh openings on both sides of the carrier; this will be important in the summer months.
  • A snap-on water bowl is critical, so make sure the crate or carrier accommodates an option for water.

Lastly, the car ride to the vet

Cat parents need to place the soft crate in a secure spot in the car to ensure safe car travel with your cat, but never on the floor with intense vibration and noise. If a second pet parent can hold the carrier in the backseat, your cat may experience less motion sickness. Dress rehearsals become essential for safe car travel with cats! Did your cat ride fine during a 15-minute car trip? Remember to test drive an actual trip to the vet to see how she tolerates the carrier.

Please ask our staff if you have any questions about carriers or harnesses for your feline.


If you found this post informative, you may like to read:

Stressed Cat? How to Calm Them Down.

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