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How To Travel With An Elderly Cat

how to travel with an elderly cat

After many years of friendship, your cat isn’t as young and strong as she was when she came into your life.

Whether she is adopted or raised from the beginning of her life in your house, your common memories are beautiful! But we can’t stop the time.

Knowing how to travel with an elderly cat is a big must whether you’re a first-timer or always on the road.

It is very important to know something about your cat’s age and its characteristics.

Of course, it depends on the breed, but we are free to say that cats are in their prime time until the 10th year of life.

After this period they aren’t middle age anymore, and we must treat them as senior cats.

That means that the vet becomes a cat’s best friend and we need to be ready for some actions we’ve never taken before.

So, if your vet thinks your furry pal isn’t strong enough for a long-distance journey, then you need to find some convenient place where you can leave your cat while you are on the road.

But if everything is ok, then you need to pack your cat with other travel stuff and hit the road!

The problems we usually face while traveling with elderly cats

Many cat owners don’t like to travel without their cats. That’s normal and easy to understand.

But we must be extremely careful when traveling with elderly cats.

They need some kind of special treatment. Traveling with them could be sometimes harder and complicated than traveling with kittens or pregnant cats.

Before you start your engines, check your elderly cat’s health and listen to the advice given by your vet.

We’ll try to explain to you what would be best for your travels with this group of cats.

But first, here are some issues you need to overcome and delay when the time for a journey with elderly cats has come.

Unsettled elderly cat in the vehicle

If you notice any kind of unusual behavior by your elderly cat at the beginning of your road trip, then you need to know that something went wrong with the preparation process.

A most common problem we are facing in such situations is the cat’s uncomfortable surroundings.

Our senior cats don’t appreciate too much of noise or hours by hours driving without any pit stops. This can make them very nervous and ready to jump on your face!

You need to take care of their comfort even they have everything soft, gentle and clear in their carrier or cage.

Sometimes, our elderly cats start screaming or jumping all over their carrier without any reasonable explanation.

It can be caused by many factors, but almost certainly they don’t want to proceed with their traveling.

Even you think at this stage of your journey that there is no chance to continue your traveling, you are wrong.

Maybe your cat just needs a bit tenderness or a few minutes of fresh air. That could mean they are thirsty or hungry, also.

Try to avoid any kind of unexpected company near his/her carrier. Especially if you have an elderly cat used to travels.

They simply don’t like any cats around their holly territory in the vehicle.

Any other cat in her surroundings can cause a lot of stress, so keep her out of reach of other cats.

Your elderly cat looks too tired while traveling

Our cats are one of the biggest sleepers in the animal kingdom, with over 15 sleeping hours daily.

But it would be easy to notice that your elderly cat is sleeping for the whole time while traveling.

If you gave her some medicaments or any other type of natural tranquilizer, then you don’t need to worry about it.

But if your cat was somebody who never slept so much while traveling, then you probably have a big problem.

It could be a sign that your elderly cat isn’t ready for new adventures and that she just wants to sleep away your journey.

But what’s bad about it? At first sight, she is sleeping and she’s quiet. That sounds great.

Yes, if we are talking about a random adult cat. But you have a senior cat that is used to journeys and there is nothing normal about her recent mood.

Try to avoid such moments with the specific diet recommended for elderly cats who traveling and good preparation.

It is simple, your elderly cat isn’t a teenager anymore and she needs more time to refresh her body after travels!

Feel free to contact your vet for a recommendation for some kind of therapy after such experience.

Lack of appetite

We know how much our cats like to eat! They are always hungry and can find a spot in their stomach for more and more food or treats.

But you’ve noticed while traveling with your elderly cat that she is not so eager to eat, or even worse, she doesn’t want to eat at all.

That could be something temporary, and you don’t need to panic.

You can offer her some food or treats on the next pit stop, or simply, let time do all the work for you.

It is more difficult to resolve this kind of problem if your cat didn’t eat anything for over 24 hours.

It means that she lost her appetite and that you need to call for immediate action!

The first thing you should consider is a bit longer break.

If you are traveling by car, then you need to change your schedule and give your elderly cat some time to refresh her metabolism.

But, if your journey isn’t longer than a few hours, then you need to feed her several hours before the travel starts.

Be sure she will not be hungry during the journey!

Nervous elderly cat while traveling

This is one of the most common problems people can face during traveling with elderly cats.

Our senior cats aren’t ready to sit in their carriers or cages for as long as you need them to.

They used to be able to do it for you before, but that time has passed and you need to have a lot of respect for that kind of elderly cat’s mood.

No one likes to be exhausted just because someone else needs to travel somewhere and our elderly cats are no exception.

They are getting nervous because of a mix of different reasons.

Sometimes it is caused by a lack of fresh air in the vehicle. Sometimes because they need a bathroom break and sometimes they just want to get out of the carrier.

Of course, it would be great if they are already introduced to their carrier, but often we don’t have time for such a preparation process.

Another reason why cats get nervous could be hidden in the fact that they need some medical therapy, even they were always healthy.

Normally, senior cats need more medical attention and sometimes they simply can’t travel without serious medical help.

12 Tips for traveling with an elderly cat

We are always wondering about some tricks and hacks that can help us while traveling with our pets.

Some of them are myths and some of them aren’t helpful at all.

We’ve tried many of them and we say that there are many good and useful things you should know about this topic.

For starters, you should know your elderly cat’s mood well. If you have the power to understand a lot of his/her needs, then you’ll have an easy job when scheduling a trip with him/her.

We always like to say that good preparation is sometimes more than enough to enjoy a really good and comfortable trip.

So, let’s see which actions, tricks, and plans can help you while traveling with elderly cats!

1. Always get something your senior cat likes to eat

Although they are a bit older, they are still big gourmets or foodies.

If they are healthy, it’s almost certain that they won’t refuse any kind of food they like.

So, it is good to purchase them some favorite treats or some food they simply adore.

It would be great if you don’t feed them with their favorite food a few weeks before the journey starts, so you can surprise them while traveling.

When you notice his/her nervous mood, just stop your car, release your cat out of the cage and give her some nice food to calm her down.

Probably they’ll appreciate that kind of a move, and you’ll be able to proceed with your journey.

If that can’t help you, then you need to think about some new treats or type of food you are feeding your elderly cat with.

2. An extremely comfortable carrier is always beneficial

The most valuable thing in your car when traveling with an elderly cat is the carrier.

To be more precise, we are talking about a comfortable blanket or a nice mat inside the carrier.

It would be great if you could afford one of these carriers which are recommended for elderly cats.

What does that mean? Well, your elderly cat needs more space and a good area with a good airflow where she can spend her time.

Look for some nicely coated edges with something soft and very comfortable.

Our senior cats don’t like to jump around as much as our younger cats like, but they are big fans of nail scratching and playing fun games.

But if you want to ensure these things for them, you’ll need a decent carrier with a lot of space!

We sometimes think that our elderly cats can never get enough room for playing and lying, but we are simply limited by it!

So, always have in mind that a spacy carrier is a must as well as a comfortable and a scratch-friendly mat.

To get your elderly as calm as possible, you need to have the best possible comfortable carrier!

3. Good elderly cat’s preparation for traveling is very important

Even if you and your elderly cat are seasoned passengers with over a million miles in your trunk, you simply need to prepare your elderly cat for each new journey.

Although many cat owners have not to detect yet any kind of unusual behavior from their cats’ while traveling, we must be very careful when these days come.

It is normal if your senior cat isn’t keen on travel anymore.

She isn’t ready to spend hours and hours in the carrier or somewhere where she can’t have a really good time.

But even then, you can train your elderly cat to stay calm and satisfied with you while traveling.

A bit shorter distances can keep them fresh and in a good mood for travel.

Try to drive your elderly cat once or twice per month around your neighborhood or to the nearest market.

That can be helpful and your cat will stay fit for journeys and won’t be bored when you start your next trip.

4. Don’t forget your cat’s litter box when traveling

Our elderly cat usually needs as many bathroom breaks as you can afford.

And you’ll see that a bit older cats will use each pit stop in the best possible way.

Of course, it wouldn’t be clever to forget a litter box even you are traveling with much younger cats.

But when your cat is a senior, then you need to think about its needs for the whole time.

It would be great if you have an opportunity to bring all his/her bathroom accessories when traveling.

Don’t hesitate to pack a lot of napkins, handkerchiefs or some other toiletries.

We don’t want to say that your senior cat doesn’t know where her/his pee spot is, but it is always good to be prepared for every type of situation.

Try to pack as many things for the hygiene of your elderly cat’s litter box as you can carry with you. We can never get enough of it!

5. Using sedatives for traveling with an elderly cat

Yup, there is one more very effective way to save your elderly cat’s nerves, but yours too.

Many good natural sedatives are helpful and can make your cat much calmer when traveling.

We are always talking about catnip or chamomile because these two things are the safest for sedating your elderly cat.

On the other side, you can find a lot of useful medicaments good for cat’s sedating, but they are usually too strong and you must be very careful when using them.

Overdoses of this type of sedatives can cause many dangerous health issues.

Your cat can damage its stomach, or even worse, there is a possibility to damage the cat’s overall health so you need to get the permission of your vet for such ways of treatment.

But, it would be great to skip any medicaments and try to go all natural!

Don’t forget that catnip and chamomile are just two of many extremely good herbs!

6. Bring toys or other favorite items!

Years have passed and your cat got older. But that doesn’t mean that the soul followed the body into retirement.

Your cat is still that same little kitten inside which likes to play definitely.

Use that young spirit of hers and bring something that might help alleviate the pain and boredom of long trips.

The least you can do is return the favor during your trip. You know what your cat likes and what occupies her attention.

Pack those items and keep them near you but out of your cats’ sight so you may pull them out when needed.

If you are the driver and you are the one holding the bag with your cats’ items like we said keep it near.

But do not risk you and your cats’ life just to stop her from meowing weird.

Pull over, surprise her with her favorite toy and after she looks calm enough again, get back on the road.

7. Soft food is the thing for you older cat

Pay attention to the food, make sure it is soft enough for your older cats’ teeth.

Being old brings another set of problems for everything and everyone.

That includes your cat in all situations, not just when traveling.

And you could have easily forgotten this, but we are here to remind you of the tiniest details so your trip goes smoothly.

You could be the “four-leaf clover” person amongst all of the other ones who were not lucky enough.

Your cat could be able to chew on anything she desires even in old age.

But most cats are not in that situation and they require a special type of food intended specifically for older cats and/or those cats who have dental problems.

There are plenty of good ones that are recommended by the vets and the price doesn’t differ that much.

So it is only a matter of you finding the right stuff, not adjusting your budget.

8. Don’t overfeed your elderly cat just before the journey starts

We don’t want to teach you what your senior cat likes to eat, but it is good to repeat it one more time.

They usually need soft food because many senior cats are facing teeth issues.

But this kind of food isn’t good just because of their dental health.

This food helps your elderly cat to digest whatever she takes in easier.

And that means that this category of cats needs way more pit stops for those bathroom needs.

If you want to skip breaks every 20 minutes, stay free to feed your elderly cat several hours before the journey.

If she wants to eat something just before the trip, you’ll be in the middle of trouble.

Generally, enormous food intake can lead to vomiting and no one likes to watch his/her cat throwing up or facing such an awful thing as diarrhea is!

Stay free to feed your elderly cat two times daily for several weeks before traveling.

9. A comfortable area for your elderly cat while traveling

Just give your senior cat what she likes the most – her carrier where she can spend her time regularly while traveling.

She’ll know that you are taking her out of home anyway, but this can help her to overcome any kind of a potential problem.

It is simple, she’ll be sure that she has her stuff in your car and that can calm her a lot!

It is very important to have everything comfortable inside the carrier, so your cat can take a nap or just turn around whenever she wants to.

For starters, you need a decent mat inside and all of the edges should be additionally secured with some soft and gentle materials.

It would be great that your elderly cat’s carrier is breathable and light, too.

Another great investment in the elderly cat’s carrier is some kind of extra safety tools.

For example, if your cat’s favorite carrier isn’t stable enough, you’ll need some of those additional tools and items which make the carrier stronger.

It is always good to know that your cat’s carrier is safe at its place in the car!

10. Place the carrier in the best possible place

It does depend on the type of vehicle you are driving, but no matter if it is a car, an RV, or a minivan.

They all have a couple of really good places for you to put your cats’ carrier down.

If it is a car, there are at least two very convenient places for you to place your cats’ carrier.

More specifically you want to place your cat in such a place so that she can have a good look at you, and so that you can have a good look at her.

So that you can spot early on if she is fidgeting or trying to show you that something is not right. Choose a place that has a clear view between the two of you.

You want a place where the carrier will be secure, and not move around if you encounter a tight turn, a bump, pothole or something of the sorts.

Our best recommendation is to put her on the passenger’s seat if possible of course.

There you have the best of all situations, you can see her, she can see you, you can strap her in and she has a good view of the road.

But, it is not always that you and your precious cat are traveling alone.

There may be someone else and that person will be a better choice for the passenger’s seat, for practical reasons.

In that case, the next best thing is directly behind the passenger’s seat. You keep all the good things except for the constant overview.

But a simple short stop and a turn-around and you checked in with your cat.

11. Stay engaged with your elderly cat

After you found a good placement for your elderly cat’s carrier, the next thing you need to do is stay engaged with her during the whole trip.

We know that this sounds easy, but it is often very complicated to keep your connection.

Sometimes your cat’s carrier is placed in the backseat and if you don’t have any person next to your elderly cat, it is almost definitive your cat will feel alone during the traveling.

Then you need to be more careful and plan your stops properly.

Don’t take a break just because you need to refill your gas trunk! Show your elderly cat that you love her and that you’re gentle.

Also, if you have a chance to teach her some verbal or any other type of communication, stay free to use some words or voices to keep your cat in the backseat calm.

If your cat is driving next to you in the passenger seat, then you have a bigger chance to stay engaged with her during your whole journey.

This position guarantees her much more attention! But that’s not all.

From this position, your elderly cat will be able to ride like a real tourist!

12. Plan it out before you hit the road

Several potential situations demand frequent pit stops when traveling with an elderly cat.

Whether it is a bathroom break or cleaning your cat’s litter, you need to plan your trip in such a way so you will have this kind of a break once every hour.

This will be an opportunity for you to check all that is happening with your cat.

Check if she is hungry if she can walk around normally if she needs to do her dirty business outside of the car.

Our cats are known to be proud, so maybe she will want some privacy.

One more thing is important when you are taking a break, and that is the location.

Try to see in advance on a map some possible places where you will take breaks.

They mustn’t be loud so your cat won’t get nervous. Today, that kind of planning is fairly easy but it is very rewarding when traveling with an elderly cat.

 

Conclusion

Your cat has gotten older over the years, and yes, that does complicate your preparations for your trip a little bit.

But that is no excuse to leave your best pal behind and go on an adventure without your cat!

We took out the time to write down several ways and methods to help you with the tricky stuff so you don’t have to think that much about it.

Follow our guide, take care of the basics, prepare yourself and your cat right and the trip will be a blast.

That jolly little rascal is not eager to leave your side, and friends like that are the kind of friends that we all need.

So you should do all that you can to have an old and seasoned friend with you on the trip.


Have you had any experience of traveling with an older cat? Have you already brought your older cat on a trip with you?

What about the things we wrote about, have you tried any of them? If yes, share your experiences with us and tell us how it went.

What were some of the troubles you had to deal with, what are some of the new things you experienced as a direct result of your cat is with you?

We’d love to hear all about it, or if you have any suggestions and comments!

 

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