Travelling with your cat: Anxiety and Stress

This week’s blog has been written by Joanna Woodnutt, our ‘tame’ vet student. Jo is a final year student who has an interest in feline medicine, and is currently fostering ‘Sophie’ for us.

Good morning and welcome to the second in our ‘Travelling with your Cat’ series. This time we will be discussing anxiety and stress in the travelling cat.

The first thing to remember is that cats don’t like change. Change can bring about all sorts of stress-related illnesses and behaviours, which is why it’s really important not to force your cat to go anywhere- if they hate it, and you can avoid it, please don’t force them to travel!

Here are some top tips to help you get your cat ready for his journey:

Desensitisation

It’s not as obvious as it is with dogs, but it’s really important to get your cat used to his carrier before he heads off on his journey. A dog crate makes an excellent carrier and by leaving it in the house with his bed in it you’ll get him used to it. You can feed him in his carrier, and then start to take him on short car journeys, rewarding him when he returns- this can teach him that the carrier isn’t such a scary thing after all.

Sprays and Scents

One way to relax your cat without resorting to drugs is to use a scent or spray designed to relax cats. There are two types of sprays- those with calming natural oils, and those with pheromones. Feliway contains pheromones that cats release when they are happy, tricking the cat into thinking they’re relaxed. Feliway comes in a spray which is perfect for cat carriers.
A more natural alternative is the essential oils scents (like Rescue Remedy), which can calm a stressed cat using nice plants- a bit like lavender baths for humans!

Medication

Medicating your cat is not a good way to deal with anxiety in the long term, or if you travel often, but it is good for a one-off trip for instance if you’re moving house. You can talk to your vet who may be able to give you tablets to sedate your cat for the journey.

 

Hopefully this has helped you to understand some of the ways to help your cat relax before travel. Please join us in a fortnight for our final post in the series: Travel Sickness in Your Cat.

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