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How to travel with a cat in a car

Dear Fisher,

I am not looking forward to the annual road trip to Nana's house. I hate to ride in the car! I get nervous and shed a lot and yowl most the way there. It is 14 hours on the road and my people just have to drive straight through. I know I get all upset and make a fool out of myself but I can't help it. I drive them nuts. How can I get over this?


I do have some sympathy for you, but I have to admit a road trip sounds pretty exciting to me. One key phrase in your letter really sticks out: "All my independence goes down the drain." You lost your independence? Would that be anything like admitting you're not in charge? If that's the case, you might want to consider a major attitude adjustment and enjoy the ride.

You might feel better if you know that very few cats road trips. Some get motion sickness. Some get nauseated from the silly car games. But it is a special family time, and you would do well to give up and join in.

If your problem is really a fear of traveling, your humans can take some steps to help you out. Medication is a worst-case option and not recommended. Your vet can help with that if your problem is hyper-serious. But before that, I certainly do recommend a strong dose of catnip to help your anxiety. Depending on your personality, you will either be happy and playful, or you will snooze most of the way there. Munchies, of course, should be provided.

Your humans can do a little to help you out. For instance:

• Get a lightweight harness and leash — no car door should be opened until you are securely on a leash. Wear your new harness for a few days before the trip.

• Pull out the cat carrier and make it available to you to explore beforehand. A secure, comfy fabric carrier is nice.

• Take you for short drives around a block or two (not to the vet's office).

• Your humans will need to pack identification and vet records, a little food and water, a toss-away litter box, catnip and a moist hand towel for cleanups.

• New toys and yummy treats placed inside the carrier might help.

• Wee for more ideas.

Now sit back, buckle up and enjoy the ride!

— Fisher lives in Tampa Bay with her humans and loves to give advice. Send questions and a photo to or visit

How to travel with a cat in a car 06/04/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011 1:26pm]
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