Car rides for cats can be stressful. Imagine what it feels like to be taken away from a place you find familiar and comfortable and be transported in a big moving metal box. Car rides don’t have to feel traumatic for your cat, though. Here’s how you can train your kitty for car rides and make the overall experience relaxing and peaceful for both of you.
1. Get her in a carrier
First, you have to use her carrier to take her inside the car. It will keep you and your kitty safe from possible resistance that could happen.
2. Let her visit the inside of the car and let her mark it
Open the carrier inside the car and let her explore the car at her own pace. Don’t turn on the engine yet and definitely don’t force kitty to get out.
It will take time before she gets comfortable being inside the strange and unfamiliar vehicle. But, you have to wait until she does and eventually marks it. Then you’re done for the day.
3. Put something of hers in the car
To ease up the stress and speed up the process, put something of hers in the car overnight. When the next visit to the car comes, it will be less strange to her which can make her more relaxed compared to the first one.
4. Spend a little time with your kitty inside the car
By now your kitty has probably gotten used to the fact that a car isn’t necessarily dangerous or traumatising. Now, you start petting her (not too much) or talking to her. It helps to interact, but make sure to observe your kitty for near signs of aggression. Keep the environment relaxed and calm. Don’t put her in too long. About 5 minutes will do. And, you can do it again in the afternoon or the day after.
5. Meal time and car time
Now you top it up a notch. Try bringing your kitty in the car along with her favorite treats or catnip. The goal here is to make your kitty feel that cars aren’t about the bad stuff but also the good stuff. Food and toys are the best motivation for kitties to feel calm and relaxed. In this, your kitty will learn that happiness can be found inside the car too.
6. Take that first slow drive in the neighborhood
Now, that she feels good about getting inside the car. Try to start the engine. Initially, you’ll get a bit stressful reaction from your kitty but it’s fine. It’s part of the entire process. Don’t let the move yet. Just let the engine run for awhile and turn it off. Do this for about a week until she feels it’s normal.
After that feeding and playing, while the engine is on, it’s time to take your kitty to the neighborhood. Start with a slow speed and just show her what it’s like to be in a moving vehicle.
Now, that you have a kitty who’s interested in car rides. Next question is: where to?