Helping your cat to be comfortable with car rides and being in a carrier will make veterinary visits less stressful for both of you! You’ll be more able to get your cat to the veterinary hospital in times of need and for routine preventive health.
First, choose a carrier that is appropriate for the size of your cat. Ideally, they should be able to turn around, stand and lie down. Carriers that come apart in the middle are helpful as they can be taken apart at the hospital allowing your cat to stay in a more comfortable place for examination.
Ideally, it is best to get your cat used to the carrier at a young age. Place the carrier in an area of the house that your cat frequents to allow for self exploration. This is best started a few days or even up to a week prior to your expected day of travel. Once your cat has noticed the carrier, place treats and toys in the carrier to encourage further exploration of the interior. After a few days, you can slowly start to close the door for short periods of time. Add comfortable towels or clothing to the carrier to provide the added comfort of familiar smells. Spraying the clothing, towels or carrier with the feline pheromone Feliway can help keep a calming environment. When traveling, placing a towel over the carrier can help your cat remain calm.
Sometimes, cats are refractory to our best efforts and will not allow for an easy and stress free travel. For these cats, anti-anxiety medications used prior to travel may be prescribed by your veterinarian.
Dr. Alex Kirkham