Why Are Cats Afraid of Car Rides?

Let’s face the truth here. Cats are not friendly toward car rides.

If you observe your cat being weird during a car ride, well, you are not alone. Many cat owners often wonder why are cats afraid of car rides.

Almost 90% of pet cats show afraid behavior towards car rides. Why is that? I’ll explain everything in this article.

Why do Cats Hate Car Rides?

Most cats, unlike dogs, don’t seem to enjoy the newer experience or explore in an unfamiliar zone. Cats hate when they are dragged out of their comfort zone.

There are many reasons a cat may hate car ride. While it is quite impossible to pinpoint the exact reason why your cat hates car rides, there are some general characteristics of cats with which we can approach this problem.

Here are my ideas on why cats hate car rides:

1. Cats are an animal of habits

They like to do everything in their comfort zone and hate doing anything outside their daily routine. It is a part of their natural instinct. A nature study showed that todays pet cats have come from a wild middle eastern species feline. The species is Felis silvestris lybica, whose daily routine was to mark territory. Today’s cats have inherited this characteristic. So, they hate when they are outside of their marked territory.

2. Cats love their daily ritual

They hate if they are forced to do anything outside it. A car ride may break your cat’s daily ritual. Like humans, cats also feel stressed when they are in an unfamiliar situation. This may be a reason for your cat’s hatred towards car ride.

3. Cats are not like humans

Going outside the home, meeting new people is not a big deal for us. Socialization is a part of our life. However, we often forget that cats are not like humans. When you drag your cat outside the home, you are practically making her leave her marked territory. It is quite scary for a cat.

4. Health Problems

Some cats by instinct suffer from various health problems when they suffer such as motion sickness. Others may vomit or show signs of illness as a result of being scared. Such behaviors are quite common among cats.

5. They associate the car with going to the vet

For most cats, the only time they are on a car ride is when they are visiting a vet in a carrier. In the vet, your cat is examined head to tail by a total stranger. The vet may take your cat’s temperature or even give her shots. So, you can imagine how much stressful it is for a cat. You can’t really blame them for a car ride, can you?

There are many other reasons for a cats hatred towards cat rides. But the zest of it is: that cats aren’t used to car rides. That’s why they hate it.

Why is it important to make your cat friendly towards car ride?

We understand that cats are not made for a car ride. But unfortunately, car rides are inevitable for cats.

According to the cat health organization, you need to take your cat to vet at least once a year.

Moreover, if there is an emergency, you can’t avoid car ride with your cat. Here are some reasons why it is crucial to make your cat friendly towards car ride:

  • Car ride is inevitable when visiting a vet. You need to at least visit the vet with your cat once a year for a general checkup. Moreover, for any health problem or emergency, you must take your cat to the vet. In these situations, you can’t avoid car ride. So, you should try to make your cat calm during car rides.
  • If you want to visit your relative or go to a trip with your cat, 90% of the time you’ll have to use a car. So, if your cat isn’t friendly toward cars, it will ruin your journey and at worst, make your cat sick.

How to make your cat friendly towards car ride?

I will say the hard truth here.

There is little possibility that you can make your cat love car ride. It is almost impossible. But what can you do is, make the car ride less stressful for your cats. In this section, I will share some of the tips to make car ride with your cat less stressful. All of these have worked for me. I hope they do for you too!

Make your cat friendly towards her carrier

Almost every time your cat is in a carrier when she is going to a vet. This makes her fearful of the carrier. so, your first job is to make your cat used to her carrier.

I have written about this in details in my “how to put a cat in a carrier” guide. In short, you’ll have to take some steps to make your cat friendly toward her carrier.

This step may take some time. It depends on your carrier. it may take from several weeks up to a couple of months.

You need to gradually make your cat less stressful towards her carrier. some of the tips include keeping your carrier accessible by your cat all the time, keeping your cat’s favorite toys and treats inside the carrier, feeding your cat inside the carrier, giving her treats for good behavior etc. Again, read my guide on how to put a cat in a carrier for more details. Here are some additional killer tips to make your carrier familiar to the cat:

  • Spray cat pheromones inside the carrier. it will give a familiar scent to your cat.
  • Place a towel or newspaper inside the carrier. it is better if you can place a towel where your cat usually sleeps.
  • Keep your cat’s favorite toy inside the carrier.
  • Give your cat treats to encourage good behavior.
  • Don’t be stressed or angry if your cat still doesn’t get along with the carrier. Just be patient. Remember, patient is always the key to train your cat.s

Prepare your cat before leaving the house

You must have identification tags ready for your cat before leaving the room. Identification tags are extremely important in case your cat escapes and get lost.

There are many stories of cats getting lost while they were taking to the vet.

If you don’t want to be one of these storytellers, go buy an identification card for your cat right now. Don’t keep it for doing later.

Buy an identification tag for your cat right now. Also, buy a good collar for your cat.

Most of the cat carriers these days have an inside hooker installed in them. You can attach these hookers with your cat’s collar. This will prevent any unsupervised escape of your cat.

Make sure your cat is secured inside the car

The first thing you need to ensure is your cat is secured inside the car. A cat carrier will help you in this regard a lot.

Most of the cat carriers these days are designed with high security that ensures your cat can’t escape.

Investing in a good cat carrier will serve you for a lifetime. A cat carrier provides safety both to your cat and yourself.

It is never safe to let your cat roam freely inside the car. Many accidents may happen. Your cat may jump out of the window. Even, she may get scared and dart under the pedal or brake.

This may cause a serious accident if you are driving on a busy road. That’s why I will always recommend a carrier for your cat.

Take short rides with your cat first

You probably heard it a lot “Practice makes a man perfect”. Well, this is true for cats too.

You can reduce the stress of your cat by a large amount by practicing her with short car rides. Start slowly.

At first, just get your cat in the carrier and place it inside your car. Sit with your cat for a few minutes.

Then return home and reward your cat with her favorite treat. After she is quite comfortable, take it up a notch.

Take your cat to short car rides. It may a ride just around the block. The goal here is to accumulate your cat with the car and the carrier.

After a short ride, return home and give your cat a treat. Don’t miss giving her a treat. It will help her to associate the car ride with a pleasant experience.

Make yourself ready

Taking a cat to a car ride is not an easy task. There is so much responsibility that you can often get freaked out.

The first thing you need to do is prepare yourself. Take deep breaths. Calm yourself. If you become emotional when your cat need you the most, it will make the cat much worse.

That’s why be confident and calm.

You are doing this out of love

Love is tough. Sometimes, we have to do things that are tough but better for our loved ones.

Don’t be apologetic to your cat for a car ride. Remember, it is a necessary, not a luxury. Taking your cat to vet regularly is extremely important for your cat’s regular health.

So, when you feel demotivated, chant this “I am doing this out of love for my cat”.

Fool your cat

Cats are generally very clever animal. If you only take them to a car ride for visiting the vet, they’ll soon figure it out and start to hate car ride.

But, you can play some tricks here. You can often take your cat to a car ride and visit somewhere she loves. It can be a park, a pet shop or any other place.

This will trick your cat when you are actually taking her to the vet. It may sound a bit cruel, but sometimes we have to be cruel only to be kind, right?

Does your cat have motion-sickness?

If your cat suffers from motion sickness, it is better if you start the journey when your cat has a completely empty stomach.

I sometimes also buckle up the carrier beside the driver’s seat, so that my cat can constantly see me. It makes her less nervous and less prone to sickness.

What if nothing helps?

I have already shared all of my best tips with you for making your cat friendly towards car ride. But sometimes, some cats can’t get along with it at all.

It may be a genetic reason or instinctual impulse. If nothing works, you can try to sedate your cat for a car ride. However, only use sedation as a last resort.

I have written a detailed post on how to sedate your cat. Go through it for proper guidance on sedating your cat.

If you want to avoid sedation, look for vets who do house calls. It will cost you a bit more, but we can at least do that for our loved ones, right?

Let me know if this article has helped you at all.

What do you do for making your cat less stressful during cat ride? Share your tips with us.

And also, don’t forget to comment your favorite tips for making your cat friendly towards car ride.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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