The Premier Online Magazine devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats
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The Premier Online Magazine
devoted to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Close this search box.


The Premier Online Magazine devoted
to Persian & Exotic Shorthair Cats

Close this search box.

Car Sickness & Your Cat

Most cats have to travel by car — at least occasionally.

Whether it is a once a year trip to the vet for an annual check-up, the drive to the cottage for vacation, or weekly trips to the cat show, having a kitty who gets car sick can be a very real inconvenience.

Signs of Car Sickness

Cats have different symptoms of car sickness dependent upon the degree of nausea they feel. Symptoms may include:

Motion Sickness vs Nerves

Motion sickness is different from car sickness caused by simple nervousness. In 95% of cases of car sickness in cats, it is stress-related and not actually motion-related.

Your cat may relate a car trip with being taken away from its first home, or trips to the vet. If the cat’s first trip in a car is unpleasant, it’s not surprising that subsequent rides in a car might evoke mental stress and a subsequent physical upset.

Preventing or Reducing the Symptoms of Car-Sickness

Some common sense rules apply when trying to help your cat overcome car sickness:

  • Do not feed the cat before traveling.
  • Give your cat frequent rests during the trip.
  • Let your cat ride up front in the passenger seat.
  • Let the cat look out the window.
  • Give the cat some fresh air.
  • Try anti-nausea or motion-sickness medications.
  • Change your cat’s attitude about road trips.

Travel on Empty

It’s a good idea not to feed your cat six to eight hours before embarking on a road trip. Travelling on an empty stomach will make most felines less likely to throw up. If the kitty does get sick but hasn’t eaten recently, there’s no food in the vomit, so at least it’s easier to clean up.

  • No food before traveling.
  • Withhold breakfast until after you arrive at the show hall.
  • Pick up the cat’s dry food early in the morning before the cat typically has its “breakies”.
  • Remove all food during the last hour of the show to avoid problems on the way home.
  • Giving your cat water won’t usually upset its stomach and may in fact make the kitty feel more comfortable.
  • While some cats travel best on an empty stomach, others will feel more comfortable after eating a small meal. Some felines just need a little food in their stomach to help keep them from becoming nauseous.
  • Experiment to find what works best for your particular kitty.

Give Me A Break

While some cats can travel for hours without having problems, others start getting queasy after just a few miles. Get to know your cat’s pattern and stop at least every hour or two to give kitty a rest from the motion. It’s also a good idea to see if your kitty would like a drink of water during the rest stops.

A Front Row Seat

There’s less movement in the front of the car compared to riding in the back, so it might help your cat if you let him ride in the front seat.

Room With A View

Some cats, like people, are less likely to become carsick when they can watch the passing scenery. Place your cat’s carrier so the kitty can look out the window.

A Breath of Fresh Air

Fresh air is good for anyone who’s feeling a little carsick, including your cat.

Motion Potions

  • Calm Stress is a homeopathic remedy formulated to help relieve stress and aid in the prevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness.
  • A tranquilizer may help calm your cat during drives.
  • Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) will work if the cat is truly motion-sick. Cats should be given about 12.5 milligrams at least an hour before travelling. Be sure to check with your vet before giving your cat any medicine.
  • Acepromazine also has anti-nausea properties that usually work well on cats.
  • A prescription antihistamine also can reduce nausea in some felines.

Reprogramming The Kitty To Relax During Car Rides

Sometimes, the best solution for car-sickness is to try to change your cat’s attitude towards car travel. It may be necessary to start out by just sitting in the car cuddling your cat and giving it a treat or playing with a toy. As the cat seems happier in the car, take very short rides followed by a treat. Even if you can only make it to the end of the driveway without signs of stress, that is a step forward. Gradually increase the length of the trips until your cat enjoys the car rides.

Be Smart

Until your cat has overcome its car-sickness, be prepared to deal with the symptoms. That includes:

  • Providing a large enough cage for the cat to stretch out and relax.
  • Paper towels to clean up drooling and possible vomiting.
  • Providing the kitty with a litter box in the car.
  • Dry shampoo to clean the cat’s coat in case of an accident.
  • Replacement towels or blankets for bedding.

Happy Trails

As you can see, you have quite a few options to try to help your cat become a happy automobile traveler. Close observation of your kitty in the car and a bit of experimentation to find what works best for your particular kitty should make car travel a pleasant experience for both feline and human.

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