Change can be unsettling for cats, especially when travel is involved.
From our cat's perspective, we are putting them in a carrier that they may only see when something scary happens, removing them from their home and routine, and taking them someplace new where they are unsure of what is going to happen to them.
There are several steps we can take to help transform travel into a more positive experience for everyone involved and help our cats feel as calm and comfortable as possible.
Before you travel, help your cat become familiar with his or her carrier by leaving it open and accessible for several days prior to your trip. Remove the top or prop the door open to ensure it doesn’t accidently swing shut while your cat is exploring the carrier.
Place treats, toys or a familiar bedding inside the carrier to help encourage entry. Apply Feliway Spray to the inside corners, ceiling and floor of the carrier each day before use to help familiarize the space.
On the day of travel, ideally do not feed your cat for 6 hours prior to leaving. This will help reduce nausea that can lead to vomiting.
Apply 8 pumps of Feliway Spray to the inside corners, floor and ceiling of the carrier at least 15 minutes before you plan to leave. Be patient and use rewards, not force, to encourage positive behaviour and entry into the carrier.
Cover the carrier with a loose blanket or towel to help reduce noise and block visual stimulus that may make your cat feel nervous, threatened or motion sick.
When transporting your cat in the carrier, keep the carrier level and move slowly and smoothly.
In the car, place the carrier on a level seat and secure it with a seatbelt. Ideally, do not place the carrier in the front seat if your car is equipped with passenger air bags.
Reapply Feliway Spray every 4 to 5 hours, as needed. Be sure to remove your cat from the carrier before applying Feliway Spray and wait 15 minutes before placing your cat back inside. Alternatively, you can spray a towel, wait 15 minutes, and then place the towel in the carrier.
At your destination, apply 8 pumps of Feliway Spray to a towel, exam table (vet visits) or other surface in the new environment. For extended trips, plug in a Feliway Diffuser at your destination to help familiarize the new environment and again at home to help ease the transition back.
When you return home, if you have other cats in the house, leave your cat in the carrier for a few minutes to give the other cats time to adjust to unfamiliar smells.