Sunday, July 03, 2005
On The Road With Your Cat
TRAVELING WITH YOUR PET: On The Road With Your Cat to ThePetCenter.com
On The Road With Your Cat!
Maybe you’ll be lucky and your kitty will be a “Napper”. On the other hand your feline car companion could be the embodiment of Feline Road Rage. You won’t know until you try.
Cats!! These little creatures always seem to be a challenge when it comes to transporting them from one place to another. If you have never listened to the forlorn yodeling of a terrified cat on its way to the veterinarian you have missed a true spectacle of nature. And if you have heard these shrieks and cries from a panicked cat you’d be very thankful you did not experience it while out camping some dark night.
Only one cat in a hundred will curl up contentedly on the car seat next to you while on a trip. Nobody knows for sure why the other ninety-nine totally loose it and think they’re falling into outer space. Accept the fact that traveling with a cat may require a few preliminary preparations in order to make the experience at least tolerable for you and your little feline friend.
First… invest in some sort of crate or fabric containment. If you can get your cat into one of these portable products (that could be the subject of an entire article all by itself!) the cat will be much more secure physically and psychologically. Cats go into a sort of “I’m safe in here” mode when they find themselves enclosed within a crate. They still may yowl and cry but if that does occur, at least they won’t be able to use your forehead as a springboard to the ceiling of the car!
Once you have a travel crate, place it in the house with the door open, put a little treat and a small litter box in it, and then ignore it. Do not put the cat into it because the kitty will immediately understand what you are up to and won’t go near it again. They’re not dumb! Here’s what the cat would say to itself… “Hmmm, might have to urinate on that thing just to show it who’s boss around here”.
NOTE: Many veterinarians and pet owners believe strongly in buckling up pets in a car just as you would a child. There are many types of restraining devices for dogs BUT FEW FOR CATS. You might consider using a padded fabric type of crate for your cat instead of the plastic or wire crates in order to keep your cat in place during a trip and to ensure additional safety in case of an accident. Collars, harnesses and leashes are a must for any travelin' cat. The bottom line? Be prepared.
On the other hand if you allow the cat to discover this neat little den/crate right in its own house, you may find the kitty hangin’ out in it. Then someday when you need to capture the feline trickster to transport it to the veterinary hospital all you’ll have to do is keep an eye out for when the kitty is inside the crate and slam the door on your way by. Now a trip in the car will be safe for you and the cat. Don’t worry about putting food and water in the crate; healthy cats can go without food and water for many hours.
Do some occasional trial runs prior to any long trip you need to take so that you know what to expect when you have to be your cat’s driver on a cross-country escapade. If your cat really seems uncomfortable and cries like a banshee for any longer than twenty minutes, you may need to contact your veterinarian about using a tranquilizer prior to a long trip. It can be difficult to discern whether your cat is displaying Hyperactivity or is in the throws of Motion sickness. Describe what your cat is doing in the crate (quiet and drooling or going bonkers and screaming) and your veterinarian will be able to prescribe appropriate medication to allow the kitty to be comfortable.
For you folks who are really opposed to medicating your pet, be assured that the medications are very helpful in providing the least amount of stress on your cat while it is going through an experience it finds horrific and unexplainable. A terrified cat is probably thinking along these lines…“Thunder!!” when the engine turns on. “Earthquake!!” when the car starts to move or bounces over bumps. “Hydrocarbon fumes!!” when it smells auto, bus and truck exhaust. “I’m falling sideways!!” when it glances out the window and those trees are whizzing by. Can you blame the cat for feeling disoriented? Medication may be a very humane choice for your kitty.
Never open a crate with a cat inside unless you are prepared for the cat to spring out of the crate and make a dash for freedom! One of the most dangerous and embarrassing events you will encounter with your cat is trying to retrieve it from the rafters of the building you are in. And the odds are overwhelming stacked in favor of someone innocently opening the front door of the animal hospital just at the moment your kitty spies the tallest pine tree across the parking lot of the animal hospital. “What was that!” the innocent door opener says as you and half the animal hospital staff file out the door in hot pursuit of the escapee.
It can be dangerous, too, in the enclosed exam room when the veterinarian opens the crate or travel container. Some cats are wound as tight as a miser just waiting for their chance to escape. The natural tendency is to climb to safety… and injury will result if the kitty uses a person for a tree. You need to go slowly when removing the cat from the container; let the cat orient a bit before trying to get your hands on the kitty. It may be best to open the crate or container and allow the cat to amble out on its own. Be careful.
A healthy cat may not move an inch for six to eight hours at a time. Allow a little food and water but don’t expect the cat to even glance at the feast you’ve provided. At your motel sometime during the night, when everyone is sound asleep, the kitty will use the litter box and have a private banquet on its own terms. Your cat may use the litter box once, eat oncee and drink once every twenty-four hours when on a long trip. The odds are you will be worrying more about these behaviors than the cat.
Never, ever, let your cat loose when on a trip. It makes no difference how “good” your cat is at walking with you at home. On a trip you and your cat are in a different world and if your cat, for any number of reasons, “takes off” you may never see it again. Some sort of an ID tag is always a good idea. If your cat simply will not wear a collar, here’s an idea: Have a groomer or your veterinarian shave some fur from the cat’s belly. Using a Magic Marker write your name and phone number on the kitty. Eventually the fur will grow back and the marking will fade but this little trick may just save your lost cat’s life.
If you are like most cat owners, you will not look forward to traveling in the car with your little pal. Nevertheless, if done often enough, maybe you will be one of those lucky 1% whose cat thinks a ride in the car is a human invention designed specifically for cats to see the world much more efficiently.
ON THE ROAD
The very first rule of traveling with your cat is to have an ID tag or other means of identification securely affixed to the kitty. Thousands of dogs and cats end up in shelters simply because the owners never dreamed the pet would get loose or become lost while on a trip. There are few disasters in a person’s life that are worse than having to drive off without a pet because all means of locating and recovery have failed. This kind of tragedy will haunt you for the rest of your life; don’t let it happen. Get an ID tag!
Before you leave make sure you consider the option of leaving your cat in a hometown boarding facility Many are just for cats and do not board dogs. Others have the cats well away from any sight, sound or smell of a canine. Visit the local boarding facility and see what goes on. Also there may be a Pet Sitter in your area who would tend your pets in your own home. With a Pet Sitter you can even call home and tell your cat how much fun you’re having… Oh, and also how much you miss the rascal. In this section we’ll sample a few ideas that will help to facilitate a safe and enjoyable road trip. Make sure you know how your cat reacts to trips by taking a number of local short trips, then if you need to take an “all-dayer” you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. Any “all-dayer” is just a bunch of short trips anyway. So, before you set off on that cross country trip be sure that you are confident that you can predict how your pet will behave.
Vomit happens. Sometimes even humans get carsick. Most cats can overcome motion sickness through desensitizing them by repeat short, uneventful trips. Gradually accustom the cat to spending time in the car with the engine off, then with the engine on, then short trips, then the cross-country adventure. Prior to a trip be sure the cat has had food and water available, then remove food and water at least three hours before you set off. You can also use anti-motion sickness medications to help settle the stomach and prevent the sometimes prolific drooling that occurs in a nauseous cat. Most medications used to prevent motion sickness are very safe antihistamines and many cats eventually will travel without the aid of medical assistance. Just in case, bring a roll of paper towels.
Note: Motion sickness or hyperactivity? Here’s the difference… cats with motion sickness are generally quiet and even a little depressed because they feel awful. They will drool all over the place, maybe even pass stool, and eventually start vomiting. The forlorn howling you might hear reminds one of a dark, creepy Halloween night! Even with an empty stomach the vomiting reflex can be very strong. These cats will greatly benefit from anti-motion sickness medication if it is given long enough in advance of the trip to be working by the time you start the journey.
The cat that goes bonkers when in a vehicle demonstrates hyperactivity. These cats aren’t sick, they’re possessed! Salivating, panting, whining, jumping from front seat to back, swatting at non existent butterflies and trying to cling upside down to the roof of the car are common characteristics of the hyperactive feline traveler. If you must bring the hyperactive cat with you, medication to sedate the kitty will surely make the trip safer, easier and less stressful for both you and the cat.
THIS CAT’S HYPER!
The key to successful use of pretrip medication is to administer it well before the trip starts. Some cats start their Tae Bo routine as soon as they HEAR the word car! Be nonchalant, sneak a little medication in a treat, and don’t mention the c a r anywhere near the cat prior to your trip. If you believe your cat may be a candidate for medication, be sure to do a leisurely pretrip trial well ahead of the time you REALLY need it. About one cat out of ten will not respond in the common way to a particular medication or a particular dose. You do not want to find this out the morning of an eight-hour, midwinter trip through the Rockies to accept that national writing award you won for the article on "Logical Steps To Effective Planning".
Yours should always be on the traffic, not on the cat!. If your traveling pal is a good traveler, it might curl up next to you on the seat and, ah... well, take a cat nap. (Sorry, had to say it.) Do not ever allow a pet to go near the driver side floor where the brake and gas pedals are located. And the dashboard must be out of bounds for safety sake.
These inventions are very handy. Your cat, if happy and comfortable in a crate, will be safer and you will have the peace of mind knowing it is secure when you must leave your friend alone for short periods. If you do use a crate, be certain that the cat is totally accustomed to it well prior to the trip. PetFoodDirect.com has an assortment of crates, leashes and other restraining devices that will add to the safety and enjoyment of traveling with your pet.
Plan ahead… well ahead. If you know you will be staying overnight somewhere, be sure to have reservations at an establishment that welcomes pets. A handy list of “Pet Friendly” motels/hotels can be found if you do a little searching. Don’t even think about it if you hope to hide your cat in your room or think you will launch a successful appeal to the motel owner’s sense of sympathy if you show up with an 25 pound Maine Coon! And don't forget to bring along some disposable "Scoop n Toss Bags"; you must be socially conscious about where your kitty chooses to relieve itself. Your portable litter box may not be the cat's first choice. Be prepared!
FOOD AND WATER
It wouldn’t hurt to pamper your pal… bring along your cat’s own food and drinking water from home and you will be better off. Not that you’re fussy, right? And a few old towels or rags will make good cleanup devices if the cat happens to discover a mud puddle or contacts something nasty like spilled ice cream sundaes! Emergency first aid kits are very handy for you and the cat if a sudden cut, sliver or rash intrudes upon your day. Anti-itch medication, bandages, and antibiotic ointments may save the day when you least expect something will go wrong. It is a good idea to have your veterinarian give you a copy of the cat’s medical history to take with you just in case a visit to a veterinarian along the way becomes necessary.
Here’s a safety tip… Bring two leashes. That way you’ll have a spare when you misplace one. Cats are notorious for doing Houdini-like escapes from their collars. A harness is much more secure, especially the ones that will adjust according to the amount of tension placed against it. The harder a cat pulls the tighter and more secure the slip harness becomes. Travel crates human versions of dens, make great containment devices and many cats enjoy hiding out in them while traveling.
Leaving a pet alone in a car has a number of potential risks. Always be conscious of the effects of heat buildup in a parked car. It only takes a few minutes for the internal heat to build up forty degrees above the outside air temperature especially if direct sunlight bakes the car. Even the cat’s body heat (expired air in the cat’s breath is 102 degrees!) will act like a heater inside the car. Leaving windows open slightly at the top surely helps IF there is a breeze. Be very cautious about leaving pets unattended in parked cars. Heat stroke is a dire emergency and one from which many pets do not recover. And you'd be shocked to find out just how fast it can happen.
Don’t forget to bring along some fun toys and tasty treats... just so the kitty knows that this traveling stuff is really fun! Don’t forget the camera! Visit PetFoodDirect.com for lots of treats and toys to entertain your cat while on the go!
Click on the link at the beginning of this article...
"The Internet Animal Hospital"
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I hope you have a great day!
After this post I'm adding a link to your blog from my blogroll on my blog!
I hope you have a great day!
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