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Why Do Cats Hate Car Rides?


When it’s time to get in the car, you’ll notice a drastic difference in attitude between your dog and your cat. Your dog probably thinks that car rides are the most exciting thing in the world. They may mean a trip to the park or the beach where your dog can play, explore, and make new friends. Even the mere act of tagging along for the ride adds some excitement to your pup’s day.

Your cat, on the other hand, wholeheartedly disagrees. Most cats dread car rides. They’re not big fans of traveling, and they have a suspicion that they aren’t going to enjoy the destination. Your cat may not be afraid to use their claws to avoid a car trip, either. 

Cats and dogs are incredibly different creatures, and understanding your cat’s mindset can help you plan a car trip that will be at least tolerable for your furry friend. 

Cats Have Excellent Memory

If the last time your cat was placed into a carrier and hauled away in the car, it resulted in them being spayed or neutered, don’t think they forgot. Most cats don’t like the vet or the groomer. Even the friendliest of cats often don’t like being handled by strangers, especially if there’s a good chance that something the stranger will do is going to cause them discomfort. 

Your cat may have a greater aversion to car rides if they have negative memories associated with the trip. Kittens who have not yet had their first vet appointment may be more docile in the car, but their behavior will likely change with time. They know they aren’t on their way to get treats or new toys, and they’d much rather stay home where they have access to those things.

Your Cat Already Had Their Day Planned Out

Cats are creatures of habit. Your cat probably does the exact same things every day, and their routines are likely akin to clockwork. They take their naps in the same spot. They get up to eat and use the litter box at roughly the same time. They approach you for affection when they feel like it, and they play with their toys when they feel energized.

Your car ride really throws a wrench in their plans. Your cat wants to maintain control over a familiar environment. Cats want access to all the things they want at the precise moment they want them. Your cat can’t cuddle up in the windowsill and watch or stalk the birds when you’re driving down the interstate. 

Unless car rides are already a part of your cat’s day-to-day routine, your cat will be non-compliant with this disruption.

What You Can Do To Keep Your Cat Calm in the Car

You probably don’t have a lot of reasons to take your cat for a ride in the car, and your cat knows that. Dogs like to ride along and accompany you on your outings, but cats don’t. Your cat probably only needs to take two car rides a year to their vet checkups. 

It can be hard to desensitize your cat to the car when you don’t have a lot of ways to incorporate the car into your cat’s daily life. You might need to find some excuses to normalize the car in order to make your cat a little more compliant. This is especially important if you’ll be moving a long distance and you need to keep your cat in the car for a prolonged period of time, or if you plan to bring your cat to a pet sitter. 

Normalize the Carrier

As soon as your cat sees the carrier, they know that a car trip is imminent. Your cat may run and hide under the couch upon sight of the carrier. If the carrier is a normal part of your cat’s life, it won’t start a chain reaction that makes a car ride an ordeal.

Line your cat’s carrier with something soft and comfortable. Make it a safe, cozy place. Leave it open, and put it somewhere that your cat can access it whenever they feel like it. Periodically dropping a treat or two into the carrier may encourage your cat to occasionally crawl in. 

If your cat’s carrier feels like any other piece of furniture, it will be very easy to get your cat into the carrier when it comes time to take a trip. You’ll technically be blindsiding your cat, but it’s a lot easier than having to chase or wrangle your cat to get to the vet. 

Take Trips More Often

If you’ve ever seen a cat out and about in a public place, you’ll realize most people stop and stare. We’re used to seeing people walk their dogs in public, but it’s always a spectacle when people walk their cat. Some cats will naturally gravitate towards the idea of taking adventures, but chances are, that cat’s owner had to work towards achieving that goal. 

You need to find reasons to get your cat used to leaving the house. These reasons shouldn’t exclusively be for veterinary visits, grooming appointments, or other things your cat doesn’t like to do. Get a harness for your cat. You can bring your cat along to the pet store or to pet-friendly establishments every once in a while. Over time, your cat may warm up to the idea of exploring more of the world. 

Keep Your Cat Calm with CBD

If car rides are a source of stress for your cat, getting your cat acclimated to car trips over a long period of time will help reduce that stress, but it’s hard to reach this point if your cat is stressed the whole time you’re trying to acclimate them. 

VETCBD Hemp’s CBD tincture is perfect to help your pets relax in stressful environments. A few drops of CBD can keep your cat at ease — CBD doesn’t make your pet high, but instead, it works to promote natural feelings of calmness by interacting with a system in your cat’s body responsible for emotional balance. 

Be Patient and Supportive When a Car Ride is Approaching

Finding more reasons to travel with your cat and normalizing your cat’s carrier can work over time to reduce the amount of stress your cat experiences when travel is necessary. Some cats may adapt faster than others, and some cats may never come to like car rides. Even if all you can do is make care rides tolerable for your cat, that counts as a win. 

VETCBD Hemp’s CBD tincture is formulated specifically for scenarios like this. If the best you can do is keep your cat calm enough to arrive at your destination without undue stress, that will be enough. 

VETCBD Hemp’s tincture also works to support joint mobility in older animals while promoting normal digestive health and brain health. It’s generally very safe for your pet to use in appropriate doses. 

Although we’re a team of seasoned veterinarians, we aren’t your cat’s veterinarian. You should always ask your vet before using supplements like CBD to support your cat. If your vet thinks it’s a good idea, we’re always here.



Eight Ways to Help Your Cat Go to the Vet | Companion Animal Psychology 

Why Cats Thrive on Routine | The Conscious Cat

Cat Carrier Stress – Tips to make a carrier a cat-friendly place | Preventive Vet

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