It could be difficult to bring your cat to the vet if he does not like the car. It is unpleasant for most cats to ride in a car. It could even be the worst experience for some of them.
The moment your cat feels comfortable with his carrier, try to reduce the stress of visiting the vet (or travelling for that matter) by teaching your cat to have positive associations with your car. Though this may take some time and effort, it is worth doing. Take the following suggestions into consideration:
Kittens adjust to a new experience and environment faster than senior or adult cats. So, train them when they are still young. Don’t worry if your cat is no longer a kitten. Older cats can still be taught to bear car rides.
Address motion sickness
If it is difficult for your cat to ride in a car, go to your vet to know if he is experiencing motion sickness. Some of the symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and drooling. If you think your cat has motion sickness, your vet may prescribe some medication for treatment. (Before giving any medication on your own, it is crucial to ask the vet’s advice).
Let your cat practice riding inside the car.
Before starting the engine, bring your cat securely fastened in his carrier, inside the car. Place a seatbelt over your cat and sit beside him. If your cat remains calm, reward him with his favorite treat. Do this again, slowly increasing the time for him to wait in the car, then give him treats. If he is impatient and tries to escape, don’t give any treats, then try to do this with shorter time inside the car. When you return him inside the house, let him out casually.
Turn on the engine while inside the car.
When your cat discovers that it is okay to sit in the carrier while inside the car, turn on the engine, then give him some treats. Include this in your routine, and reward quiet behavior with treats, but stop when you notice uneasy behavior.
Drive at varying speeds and turn around corners.
When your cat is used to your driving within your neighborhood, try to drive a short distance along a winding road or an exit on a highway. When it is okay to stop, pull over, then give a treat to your cat when he behaved well.
Drive to your cat’s vet.
If your cat gets used to the routine, he can sense whenever you will go through twists and turns. Let him get used to the route to and from the vet, following the same abovementioned routine, and reward calm behavior with treats.
Even if your try your best, there are cats that are not completely comfortable when riding in a car. If your cat is one of them, you may want to look for a vet close to your home or get a vet that can do house calls. This way, your cat remains calm before visiting the vet, allowing the animal doctor to give a comprehensive examination.