Our cat LOVES car rides. She sits on our shoulders and gazes out the window while we drive around, and we can hear her meowing for us in the car from the parking lot when we leave her in the car by herself (windows cracked, of course). It’s great that she enjoys car rides so our indoor cat can get a real change of scenery now and then, and you can train your cat to love riding in the car as well.
The best way to get your cat used to the car is to start young, or when you first get them. Hold your cat as you start the car and it starts moving, to help calm your cat down. If they squirm a little, gently murmur to them that all is well. If they get feisty or begin to growl, let them go and hide under your seat or cower somewhere in the car. This is common for cats to do when they experience something new.
Don’t hold your cat up to the window, or place them on the dash or something that will likely freak them out. They’ll climb in the backseat or in your lap and peer out on their own. The key is to let your cat explore the car for itself.
It’s best to let your cat roam freely, rather than place them in a carrier or restraint. This way they can get comfortable on their own. They may yowl and express distress, but they will quickly calm down and learn to enjoy the ride.
It helps to turn down the music and keep the windows up until your cat gets used to the ride. You don’t want any undue noises stressing your cat out.
If your cat has a favorite toy or a blanket (in our case, a pair of my pajama pants, which our cat nurses on all day long), bring them with you to give your cat something familiar to be around. Place your cat at your feet with their toy or let them snuggle in your lap with their blanket.
A big issue you may run into is your cat liking the car ride so much they wander everywhere and get underfoot, like under your pedals. Nip this in the bud by never allowing your cat in the driver’s seat. We break this rule a lot when my guy drives, and our cat has used the floor of his side of the truck as her litter box many a time as it’s always so full of dirt down there. It’s hilarious but gross, as we have to pull over a lot and kick her poop out. Otherwise, he just gently boots her aside when he’s driving.
Don’t ever force your cat to stay in your lap while driving, just let them do their thing, and before long your cat will be begging to go with you. Ours scratches at the front door like a dog whenever she hears the keys.
The best thing about your cat enjoying car rides? The trip to the vet is a breeze- she just chills with us until we actually take her in, which is a whole other story.
If you can get your cat to enjoy car rides, you can have your kitty with you when you run errands and go traveling without having to worry about a carrier. It’s not as weird as you think, and your cat will begin to enjoy the car within a very short time if you keep up with it.