Have You Dreamed of Vacationing with Your Cats?! Training a Cat for a Car Ride

Two months ago my husband and I planned a trip to Sedona, AZ. I have to admit that so many times in the past I had dreamed of a vacation with our two cats. I just didn’t have the guts to make it happen because one of our cats, Mimi, is not particularly in favor of a car-ride. My husband and I always thought it would be best for Mimi to stay at home with our other cat,Tora ,and have a cat sitter to check on them. On the contrary Tora absolutely loves traveling with us by a car. He is a dog-cat.

This time, our vacation will be for two weeks. I just couldn’t leave them that long at home without us. I know I might sound very lame, but if you are crazy about your cat, you understand…

After careful consideration of what to bring and how to prepare this trip with cat-sensitivity, we started out training Mimi for a short car-ride every weekend in October leading up to the departure in mid-November.

Mimi - What's going on? Everything is moving fast around me?!

On our first car-ride try-out, Mimi was pretty wired up by the movement and smell in the car and sights outside the car. At some point, she was licking her nose every couple of seconds, and stuck her tongue out panting! Her heart beat was so fast that I could see she needed a break. Oh my goodness, I was so scared that something might happen to her right then. We stopped on the side of the road for ten minutes until she was no longer panting and was relaxed enough to explore inside the car. The good news was that Mimi became familiar with a car-ride every time we tried it. All we need is the guts to train a cat for a car ride, and do it in each kitty’s pace.

Tips on training cats for a car ride:  (from my learning)

  • Start as early as possible – If you need to travel with your cats in a car, start today! I found it easier for the cats to be in a car not moving at first. I tried this with Mimi. I was with her in a car parked in a garage for 45 min. She smelled and explored every corner and cranny inside the car.
  • Set up your car with your cat’s favorite blanket and a cat carrier – Some cats tend to like an enclosed space (Mimi does, too) to feel safe and secure.
  • Gradually increase the distance – Resist the temptation to go longer distances in initial rides.
  • Be calm in a car – Yes, I’m talking about you (& me). Our nervousness and stress are so translucent to cats. They sense our energy all the time!
  • Give a small treat after every car-ride. Mimi was meowing to me asking for a treat when I didn’t give it to her right away after the ride.

Tune in to the next blog – trip continues…

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