Cats Get Carsick, Too: Tips for Calming Kitty's Tummy

Shortly after adopting Lindemann, I had to face the truth: my cat had motion sickness.

How I Realized My Cat Had Motion Sickness

After adopting my new cat, Lindemann, from the Boulder Animal Shelter, I watched helplessly out of the corner of my eye as he retched in the car on the way home. I was equally helpless in the face of the noisome odor that indicated he had defecated in his carrier. At the time, I blamed his illness on understandable anxiety related to being in a small car with a new human—one who had gotten lost in traffic and turned an hour's drive into one that became more than double that!

A couple of weeks later, when I was driving him down to meet my family in Southern Colorado, Lindemann had the physical reactions. I had to face the truth: my cat had motion sickness.

Tips for traveling with a pet

Non-Drug Options for Feline Motion Sickness

Leave your cat at home whenever possible. Both you and your buddy will be happier. However, there are some non-drug techniques you can implement when you and the feline are traveling together.

  • Restrict food the morning of. This is to avoid that malodorous result of his bowel movement in the carrier. I did not realize how much stench cat litter masked until getting a whiff of feces au natural. Even worse, Lindemann once sat in the feces, smearing it into his wispy fur. We will all remember the near-enema my own mother had to give him in order to remove the caked-in mess.
  • If the trip is short enough, around two hours, it is fine to feed the cat a small amount of dry food. True, if he vomits, there will be a bigger mess to clean up. However, he will be less nauseated with a little something dry in his stomach to soak up the acid. This advice comes from personal experience with my own travel-leery stomach.
  • Open a window on the cat's side. Cool, fresh air will relieve some of the nausea. Again, I am speaking from my own experience, and it does seem to help. Note, though, that if the highway is busy, the noise from outside, especially from large trucks, could unnerve the cat all over again.
  • Take a break about halfway through the trip. Stop the car. Take the carrier out, and let the cat get some fresh air. Again, speaking from personal experience, getting some solid ground under your feet—or carrier—will allow the nausea to subside somewhat. The break should last at least 10 minutes.
  • Get a hard-sided carrier. These plastic carriers are easier to clean up in the case of messes.
  • Bring along supplies: water, baby wipes (my trip has been saved by these so many times!), trash bag. Line the carrier with something soft that you don't mind discarding, such as an old towel or ripped-up sheet. Some messes I don't want to even bother trying to clean.

Drug Options for Feline Motion Sickness

Not all over-the-counter drugs are safe for pets. I am not a vet, but I did consult one about Lindemann's motion sickness. The vet told me that my 12-pound cat (he's not just fluffy—there's a lot of cat to him!) would be safe taking up to 20 mg of Dramamine. This is more than most relevant websites recommend, but my vet consulted the textbook for his recommendation. In any case, getting even the 10–12 mg suggested inside a cat is tricky; if you've ever let a Dramamine tablet sit on your tongue (for example while you unscrew a water bottle), you'll understand why: Dramamine is very bitter.

Unfortunately for this scenario, Lindemann is not a stupid cat, and he has caught on to each of the application methods I have tried after one successful dosing. There are some methods I've tried that were successful at least once.

How I've Administered Pills to My Cat

  • Crushed inside his favorite canned food.
  • Dissolved in milk and squirted in his mouth via syringe.
  • Hidden inside a pill pocket (available at any pet food store).
  • Hidden inside a pill pocket that was then rolled in the crumbs of his favorite treat.
  • Dissolved in tuna fish oil that was then mixed in with his favorite canned food. (Obviously, I was desperate.)
  • Hidden in a pill pocket that is lubricated with tuna fish oil and applied to a cat tenuously wrapped in a towel. (No one's favorite option, but what I've resorted to when the above didn't work.)

My Cat's Reaction

Lindemann often drools after I have given him the Dramamine. My vet stated this is because the taste is so bitter that he's trying to wash it off the tongue. Of course, Lindemann also drools when he's sick in the car, so it's hard to ascertain how effective the Dramamine has been. However, the couple times I have most successfully administered a dosage, he drooled but did not retch. He was also calm because I had given him the regular rather than non-drowsy formula. For best results, start attempting the dosing at least an hour before departure.

Important Note: Once again, I want to stress that before administering any drugs to your pet, it is important to consult with your vet. I consulted mine, and I am simply sharing the advice I received.

Final Thoughts

Traveling with a motion-sick pet can be miserable. However, there are ways to minimize his discomfort. If you have come up with any others—especially ways for administering a pill—please share!

Happy traveling!

ferretlovin-mom on September 09, 2016:

I'm wondering if Famotadine injectable ( 12 hr.) would work?

I use this for my rescue ferrets & now my cat that is having digestion (pukes & diahrrea) issues.

Nadia Archuleta (author) from Denver, Colorado on January 07, 2014:

I'll have to try that. The last Dramamine escapade left me bleeding and poor Lindemann so unhappy. Thanks for stopping by!

Lisa on January 05, 2014:

My baby gets car sick,..I have tried EVERYTHING! This is helped immensely,.although it's not a cure but it does help, Jackson Galaxy 'Travel' drops,..natural and not bad tasting. I put 5-6 drops on her canned food in them or info about 2 hours before leaving. 1/4 crushes Dramamine mixed with the water from a can of tuna,..put in a syringe and squirted in her mouth,..the tuna juice cuts the bitterness of the Dramamine. This solution works for about 3-4 hours.

Nadia Archuleta (author) from Denver, Colorado on June 04, 2013:

I've tried that. Do you have a good method for holding the cat? I've tried the burrito method but... well, let's just say my sister and I both have scars.

kat on June 04, 2013:

I open my cats mouth, and put the dramamine, way back, she just swallows :) shes a trooper! travels with me everywhere!

Nadia Archuleta (author) from Denver, Colorado on May 29, 2013:

Thanks! Yea, with my previous cats, it was never a problem. Actually, I think it's my car -- a 2-seater sports car. I took him in my mom's car once in the back seat & he was much happier. Poor thing! Thanks for stopping by.

FlourishAnyway from USA on May 27, 2013:

Nice hub and beautiful kitty you have there! I am lucky that my cats typically do not get car sick. I find that it makes it easier on them when I place the carrier in such a way as to not allow them to see the movement outside. Allowing fresh air through a sunroof is also helpful and can be less noisy. Voted up, useful, interesting.

Nadia Archuleta (author) from Denver, Colorado on April 13, 2013:

Yes, unless your motion sick animal is smart enough to see through all your ruses. I am going to research holistic methods. I am not sure anything would work in a hurricane though. Poor both of you!

L C David from Florida on April 13, 2013:

Oh man, my siamese got carsick one time when I was evacuating from a hurricane! I was in traffic and had been on the road forever. There was nothing I could do but keep going. I had no idea there were options for motion sick animals!

How To Unmat Cat Fur

Although most short haired or younger cats should be able to keep themselves mat free without issue. Long-haired, old or sickly cats usually require a little assistance from their owners with the process. Over time small mats can turn into large clumps and dreadlocks causing your cat pain and suffering for no reason. In extreme cases, mats can end up becoming a breeding ground for pests such as mites and worms.

This Is How We Recommend You Unmat Your Cat’s Fur

[the_ad the unmatting process may cause your cat a little pain, it is important to try to keep it calm. The easiest way to do this is to feed it cat treats while giving plenty of positive praise. Keep repeating this throughout the whole process to try and help keep your cat calm. Keeping your cat calm is often the hardest part of the whole process. If your cat refuses to stay calm, it may be better to pay a professional groomer to remove the mat.

  • Next, make sure you know the location of all of the mats in your cat’s fur. Be sure to run your fingers through your cat’s fur as mats in the undercoat can be hard to see. Some people have reported placing a brightly colored rubber band around mats in the fur help them keep track of them.
  • Although there are commercial products available to assist you with the process, it is best to start with your fingers. Your fingers are sensitive enough to judge the amount of pressure you are applying to your cat’s fur and allow you to adjust when required to avoid causing your cat pain. Try to detangle the mats as best you can. You can usually break larger mats down into smaller ones to make them easier to deal with. If the mats are old or proving difficult to remove then we recommend an anti-mat spray.
  • Brushing Out Difficult Mats In The Fur

    • Brushing out the tangles can be efficient depending on the type of mat in the fur. The main thing to remember is to use a high-quality brush designed for pet fur. Human hair and pet fur are different types of hair meaning they require different products.
    • Be sure to get a firm grip on your cat’s fur closest to its skin at the matted area. This will help reduce any possible pain to your cat during the brushing process.
    • Place your cat’s hairbrush into its hair and use sharp, quick brushes away from the cat’s body.
    • If brushing the mats does not help with the problem then you could try adding an anti-mat spray. If that doesn’t help then you may want to seek the help of a professional pet groomer.

    The Legs

    Petting a cat’s front and back legs will make her feel vulnerable, to the point of thinking that they are trapped. Avoid petting these areas to avoid any aggression, and besides, these areas are not the softest part of the cat.

    To sum up the good and the bad places in petting your feline friend, check out this handy photo:

    We hope that we have helped you understand where do cats like to be petted. Always remember that patience and being attentive to your cat’s needs will form a strong bond that will ensure a strong, lifelong companionship.

    Do you have any more tips that you can share with our pet parent community? Comment down below!

    Cat Scared of the Car? How to Calm Down a Nervous Cat

    As much as you might like to have your kitty join you on vacation, cats are creatures of habit and probably won't care much for the change in routine and scenery a vacation offers. Some cats become very nervous in unfamiliar situations, like cars. They might start meowing loudly or even get sick. If this sounds like your cat, you need every tip you can find to help calm down your cat in the car.

    Making the Carrier Positive and Training Your Cat to go in It

    You purchased the perfect carrier for your cat, the next steps are to help your cat associate the carrier with good things. This way it’s not seen as the scary box that only comes out of the garage when they go to the vet. Here are some tips on how to help your cat love the carrier.

    • Leave the carrier out in a place where your cat likes to spend time which in most cases are where you spend time. By integrating the carrier into your home, it becomes a resting area instead of a scary traveling cage. If your cat is afraid of the carrier, I would recommend just starting with the bottom of the carrier and slowly adding the top and cage door.
    • Place treats, catnip, and toys in the carrier. This will encourage your cat to enter the carrier while they’re still at home. You can also play with your cat around their carrier to help create a positive association too.
    • Place familiar bedding in the carrier. All the smells of home will be in the carrier, which will make it feel like a safe place. Also, try placing something with your scent inside.
    • Reward your cat for going into the carrier. Make sure to have your cats’ favorite treats nearby so you can give her one as soon as she goes into the carrier on her own.
    • Be patient. Do not force or chase your cat into the carrier, allow the cat to choose to go into the carrier on their own and reward that behavior.

    Ideally, we would work on creating positive associations with the carrier but in cases, where your cat needs to go into the carrier for a vet visit. You should use food and toys to lure the cat into the carrier so it’s their choice to enter. If you need to place your cats in the carrier, instead of forcing them through that small door, which does not go well for you or the cat, you should take the carrier apart and gently place the cat into the carrier.

    Watch the video: Taking Your Cat on a Vacation - Tips for Traveling With a Cat (June 2021).