How To Travel With An Anxious Cat

As you probably guessed being that you clicked on this article that cats do not like riding in cars very much. They are naturally homebodies that don’t really like to break out of their own routine. If they do it makes them uncomfortable and they start to panic as a result.

This is why you hear them meow or do things like drooling and throwing up. Fortunately there is a way around this and you can most of the time get your cat to feel accustomed to riding in a car with you. Lets look at how you can achieve this.

Why Do Cats Hate Car Rides?

As I mentioned above, cats hate car rides and traveling in general because they do not like the idea of change. They are like this because of the way that they evolved over time and didn’t quite get used to this type of thing.

Signs That You Have An Anxious Cat

This can manifest in many ways. some of them include.

  • Hiding in dark places
  • Meowing more than usual
  • “Marking” in unusual places other than their litter box
  • Heavy Breathing
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Vomiting

If you cat does any of these things you should be more careful when you are traveling with them.

Medicine To Calm Cats For Travel

A common thing that people do when they ride with their cats is use medicines and pheromones. Though they aren’t a good method for every cat, sedatives and pheromones are a great way to calm your cat when they need to take that edge off.

If your cat can’t be conditioned to drive with you generally don’t have a choice other then medicating them. If you decide to go with any type of medication you should always consult your vet first as you could do something negative to your cats health as a result especially if you take them on a plane with you (which is why airlines don’t allow them when traveling with your pet).

Here are some that I have used personally in the past.

Benadryl

One of the most common medicines for cats when you are traveling is Benadryl. Though its not approved for veterinarian use by the FDA you can however safely use this medicine in small amounts. If you want to save money and you go with another brand always make sure that there is only one active ingredient. On the Benadryl bottle this will say DIPHENHYDRAMINE.

Side Effects 

The reason why people like to use this medicine specifically is because it induces drowziness and a cat that is tired and sleeping is very easy to travel with. The bad thing about Benadryl is this can backfire on you and it will make your cat hyperactive which is the exact opposite of what you want when traveling with them.

If your cat has liver or kidney disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma or hyperthyroidism I would not suggest giving them this type of medicine as it will be harmful to them.

Forms Of Benadryl

Tablet: Benadryl comes in tablet forms and you probably should only give them a half a pill. You give your cat this medicine by hiding it in their food. This is probably the easiest method that you can go with.

Liquid: Another form that Benadryl comes in is liquid. This method is a little harder to administer because cats find it bitter and hate the taste of it. If you do decide to do this make sure to give it to them on the side of their tongue. Don’t put it straight down their throat as you can cause the cat to aspirate.

Dosage

You have to be careful with this type of medicine because you can easily overdose your cat. Generally you should give them 1 mg per pound that your cat weighs. You can also give them this medicine up to three times a day.

Xanax

Alprazolam or Xanax is an anti anxiety medicine for humans for you can also use it for cats as well. This medicine enhances the effects of natural chemicals in the brain creating a calming effect on your cat.

Side Effects

Vets usually advise you not to use this medication if your cat has signs of aggression because of the effects it has on their brains. You should not use Xanax on your cat if they have liver disease, kidney disease, glaucoma, pregnant, are an elderly cat. 

Drugs like cimetidine, erythromycin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, propranolol, or valproic may increase the effects of Xanax. Flumazenil may nullify the effects of this medication.

Dosage

You want to give your cat 0.125 – 0.25 mg/kg orally, taken every 12 hours

Medicine For Car Sickness

Just like humans cats can also get car sick when they are driving with you. A good medicine to use for this is Dramamine.

Dramamine

Dramamine is a medicine generally for children and adults for treating nausea, dizziness, vomiting, vertigo, or any other condition related to motion sickness but it also is acceptable for use on cats as well.

This medicine works by blocking the vestibular system from being stimulated resulting in preventing the effects of motion sickness.

Side Effects

Dramamine is perfectly safe to give to your cats but it does have some side effects. These include sedation, dry mouth, or the inability to fully empty their bladder. You cannot give your cat this medicine if the are allergic to antihistamines. They should also avoid this medicine if they have heart or lung diseases, seizures, or high blood pressure.

Forms of Dramamine

Tablet: One way that this medicine come in is tablet form. This medicine is easy to use because you can just hide it in there food and you’re done.

Liquid: Another way you can give them Dramamine is in liquid form. This form is probably a little harder to do but it can be done.

Dosage

For a 10 pound cat you should use 1/4 of a tablet every 8/12 hours.

Cat Treats For Traveling

You can also give them treats that can take the edge off their traveling experience. These are nice because they aren’t actually medicine but natural calming remedies. These can be useful because you can use them on the airplane without ill effects on their health and are healthier overall.

L-Theanine

L-Theanine is a great way to calm cats during travel. One of my favorite products to give to my cat is the “VetriScience Composure Behavioral Health Bite-Sized Cat Chews (click here for the chewy.com link)” It takes about a half an hour to take effect.

Ingredients include “Brewer’s Yeast, Canola Oil, Chicken Liver Flavor, Citric Acid, Glycerin, Mixed Tocopherols, Propionic Acid, Proprietary Blend (Maltodextrin, Sodium Alginate and Calcium Sulfate), Rosemary Extract, Silicon Dioxide, Soy Lecithin, Vegetable Oil.”

Pheromones For Traveling

Another way that you can calm your cat down during traveling is pheromones. They work by using a synthetic pheromones from a mother cat that causes cats to calm down. Best of all they work on both kittens and older cats.

The one that I always use and is probably the overall best one that you can buy is “Relaxivet Natural Calming Spray for Cats (click here for the amazon link)“. It contains catnip, rosemary, and geranium and is 100% safe and non toxic. If you have a dog it also will work on them as well.

Anxiety Jackets

This is another really great way that you can calm your cat down during car rides or any type of travel for that matter. These are jackets that your cats can wear and the hugging effect of the jacket creates a calming effect for your cat. You think it wouldn’t do much but it work quite well actually.

One of the most popular jacket that you can get is the “ThunderShirt Anxiety & Calming Aid for Cats (click here for the chewy.com link)“. It works so well that it has an 80% success rate.

These jackets also work well if your cat hates thunder storms, fireworks or any other loud noises and can be used for separation anxiety. If your cat has a problem with anxiety give these jackets a try.

If you want to see more of my favorite jackets you can read my article about that here “Best Anxiety Jackets For Cats: Some Of My Favorites“.

Other Tips When Traveling With An Anxious Cat

Medicines work great but there are other things that you can do to make the trip easier on them. Some of them include.

  • Cover their cat carrier
  • Spray Feliway or some type of pheromone in their carrier
  • Put their favorite toys in the carrier with them
  • Drive slowly while in the car
  • Keep your music off or play very soft music
  • Avoid bumps on the road
  • Don’t be loud in the car
  • Talk to them and pet them

Conclusion

Using medicine should be a last resort when you travel with your cat. Try to train them to enjoy riding with you and if it doesn’t go well after a couple of months then medicine will probably be your best option to getting them from point A to point B.