Moving with Cats: Keeping Calm on the Road

Moving is a major adventure, and all the more so for your feline friend. While there are plenty of boxes to play in at first, as they fill up and the house empties of all their familiar items and furniture, your cat will likely become stressed. The worst is still yet to come, though – the car ride to your new location. Whether local or long-distance, there are a number of steps you can take to make the journey less stressful for your cat.

Leave the carrier out

A few weeks before you plan to move, you should plan to place the cat carrier in a place where your cat can easily see it and enter it freely. You can also try to encourage your cat to associate the carrier with positivity by placing his or her food near the crate, placing a towel or rags with your scent on them inside or providing treats or catnip in the carrier. The less stressed they are about being in the carrier will make the trip all the more smooth.

Go for test drives

Before heading out on a long trip, it’s best to see how well your cat handles riding in the car. Start by taking short trips of 5 to 10 minutes, recommends USA Today. This will give you an initial impression of how well your pet behaves on the road, and also lets your cat get used to the feeling of being in a moving car. Take more of these short trips every few days, extending your drive time by a few minutes each time to better acclimate your cat to the experience.

Try stress relievers

There are a number of products on the market that are designed to help relieve stress and anxiety in cats. These products are often pheromone-based, and work by providing a calming and soothing sensation for the cat by mimicking the pheromones associated with feeling content and safe, like those produced by a nursing mother cat. They are available in long-lasting collars and short-use sprays, giving you extra options if you have a long road trip planned.

Other tips

While in the car, try to position the cat carrier somewhere where your cat can see you and where you may be able to offer a comforting touch for him or her. You should also talk to your cat throughout the trip, reassuring them that you’re there. These reassurances will help keep them calm and at ease during the stressful ride. You should also make sure to secure the carrier so that it doesn’t slide while on the road, using a seat belt, blankets or towels to prevent it from moving. You should also place the carrier somewhere out of the direct sun, if possible, to keep the carrier from baking and overheating your traveling cat. Be sure to also keep copies of your veterinary paperwork handy in case they are needed for any reason.

With some prior planning, you can help make your cat’s transition – whether across town or across the country – a less stressful event for the both of you. In the next post, we will discuss how to help your cat make a smooth transition to your new home.