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Travelling with my cats

Kalou
January 17th, 2011, 07:22 AM
I am going to be travelling with my two cats. They will be in a van for about 5 hours. I have done this drive before but they usually meow almost the entire time. Is there anything that I can do to make the trip easier for them?

How many hours before we go should I take away their food and water?
Would putting a toy with catnip in their crates help them or just make them more anxious?

Any suggestions would be great!

Koteburo
January 17th, 2011, 08:58 PM
Once I had to do a road and then a plane trip with my cats (2 cats) and the vet gave me a pill that is only to relax them for highway trips, he did not advice it for the plane though due to pressure and altitude conditions is better not to use anything.
They don't get as stressed and the effects last for about 4 hours of course I would never try any medication without advice from your vet. Ask about some land traveling medication to relax your kitties and according with your cats medical history and see how it goes. It helps. I don't remember it being too expensive either.

About the food and water I wouldn't go too long without them but I'd say maybe 4 hours before.

Also stripes of newspaper are better than litter to put in the kennel it absorbs better in those conditions and easier to clean as well.

14+kitties
January 18th, 2011, 12:08 AM
Have you thought about putting towels over their carriers? With all of the cats I have taken to TO I have probably had 3 or 4 that cried on the way there. Normally a towel calms them down. Toys really aren't necessary but if you want to include them go ahead. If possible put a blanket they have been sleeping on at home in the carrier with them. That will make them feel more comfortable.

Have either one shown signs of car sickness? If not then it isn't necessary to take food and water away unless you are thinking for the litter issues. They make the travel litter boxes now but I've never seen a cat use them. If they urinate during the drive it is normally because of fear and uncertainty.

Personally unless your cats are super stressed out by the ride I would not medicate. You know your cats better than anyone. You can tell whether they are stressed enough for meds or not. I hesitate to pop meds all the time only because I don't feel it's necessary to medicate them every time they are in a vehicle.

Koteburo
January 18th, 2011, 08:59 PM
That's what I meant if there's really stress as in mouth open, breathing heavily and fast, big pupils, obviously in distress for a long period of time. In fact I never used them because they didn't do as bad in the end, but it was a long trip, and then a plane trip that they never did because the flight got cancelled.
Anyways maybe I should of pointed that out, only in case of real stress it's an option.

MissPurryJess
January 23rd, 2011, 05:21 PM
My husband and I and our two kitties moved cross-country years ago, and we drove the whole way. My vet at the time recommend a light sedative, and me, not knowing any better at the time (being quite young) and being terrified that they'd be scared, I gave it to them. Big mistake. One of them was fine, but the other was screeching and rolling his eyes around and panting. He HATED the feeling - I think it made him feel sick. So I had to hold him most of the way. Halfway across the country I called my mother crying and she said, "Ditch the pills. Put them in their carriers and lay a large, light bed sheet over both carriers. It'll calm them down." Apparently moms know best, because it worked - and we do it every time they're in the car.

14+ gave you great advice - try covering their carriers. A towel works; I like to use an off-white queen-sized flat bed sheet - it's light enough so they get plenty of air and light, but they can't see anything. We had a few 10 hour days in the car, and none of us had a good time, but we survived. We fed them and gave them water in the morning and evening, and they didn't have any "accidents" - we put the litter box in the hotel bathroom every night and they just held it in, I guess, because they seemed fine with the situation.

Another thing that I feel really helps us is that my kitties have their crates accessible to them at all times. We have an extra bathroom - in the bathtub (hidden behind the shower curtain) we have stacked their crates (we use the medium-sized hard-sided crates), and they sleep in them sometimes. They feel safe in them - when it's time for the vet, no one freaks out at the sound of a crate being taken out of a closet, because it's a normal fixture in their life. If you have room, leave their crates out and open for them with some soft blankets or towels inside, and let them get used to them and get comfortable with them. Of course everyone is different - but it works well for us.

Good luck with the drive!

Kalou
January 23rd, 2011, 07:13 PM
Thank you so much! These are all great suggestions. I really like the idea of putting a light bed sheet over their crates so light can still come through. And I will definitely bring their crates out so that they can get more used to them (they really aren't big fans of them now) - do you suggest feeding them in their crates so that they will be more likely to use them?

I have never put newspaper in the crates before but I usually put down a soft towel (they have never had any accidents before).

Also, based on everyone's experiences when they meow or fuss a bit in their crate is it best to just leave them or to show them that you are there and put your hand inside the crate to pet them??

Thanks for all the help!!

MissPurryJess
January 23rd, 2011, 10:41 PM
I've never fed them in their crates since they've always been used to them, but encouraging them with a treat in there may not be a bad idea. If you have room maybe put them out in the open, like in your living room - you just want them to not be scared of them.

I've never put newspapers under the towels before - but for the first few days (until I was sure they wouldn't have any accidents) I did put those little puppy training pads under the towels. However, my cats love to dig - so they'd just dig up all the puppy pads/towels and heap them in the corner of their carrier. :laughing: Like 14+ mentioned, a blankie or towel that they're used to is good - when we go to the vet now, I put in a sweatshirt or tee shirt that I've worn - not sure how much it comforts them, but it can't hurt.

When they'd meow, we'd turn classical music on very low and whisper so they couldn't hear us. I realize this sounds ridiculous, but it seemed to soothe them. I'm probably projecting here, but I find soft classical music soothing, so I play that for them when we travel in the car.

I found that if I talked to them or put my hand in there that they'd just meow more when I took my hand away. I did hold one on my lap (all the windows up and doors locked, of course) for some of the drive (before my mom told me the sheet trick), which I know is a bad idea - but we were in the car 10 hours a day for almost 6 days straight, so we were all cranky!

14+kitties
January 24th, 2011, 06:58 PM
If you'd like to put some newspaper in the bottom of the carriers and then cover it with a blanket or towel for them then go ahead. If they do happen to pee then the paper will help sop it up. :D It's a five hour trip so I'm sure for part of it they will settle and sleep. Especially if you put something over their crates so it's quiet and calming. With the ferals I've taken to Toronto to get fixed I always used a heavy dark blanket as I really didn't want to have them seeing out. They did much better if they couldn't see where we were taking them. Once we got them back home and into a crate I still kept it covered but with a little blanket. I guess what I'm trying to say is play it by ear. See what they prefer more.
The carriers in the livingroom or the room where they spend most of their time is a good idea. If they shy away from them try taking them apart, inverting the top, and putting a blanket in it. They make neat little beds. Once they are used to using them like that then you can make it back into a whole carrier. Let the cats see you do it though or they may revert back to not liking them.
Most important thing is to not stress!! If you are stressed the kitties will pick up on it and they will be stressed too.

Koteburo
January 26th, 2011, 05:09 AM
wow now I feel bad, I trusted the vet like MissPurryJess said, what a scary experience. They never went through that because I didn't give them the pills.
Newspaper works great, that I've used that more than once.
How about a spray to make them feel safer. Spray their carrier a while before the trip maybe.