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Traveling with a claustrophobic cat

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
As if traveling with animals isn't enough "fun", sometimes you get a pet with special needs...

I have a 10 year old rescue that's been dubbed Prissy. Prissy is a tad bit Claustrophobic (read goes Psycho in enclosed spaces, like carriers.) Prissy was a rescue from out of state, and I had to drive 7 hours just to pick her up, then there was the return trip.

I asked a vet what I should do, because she would injure herslef if I placed her in a carrier. He recommended a sedative, Ace10's, to calm her down before placing her in the cage. it wasn't supposed to knock her out, just make her calm, but as soon as she took the pill the poor thing was out like a light. Thinking that all would be fine and good, I placed her in the carrier, buckled it in the front seat, and started the return trip.

Then the fun started. After about 15 minutes, Prissy woke up and flipped out, clawing at the door, caterwauling, and trying to tear the carier apart. She got so bad I had to pull over to comfort her. As soon as I opened the door and put my hand on her, she fell back asleep. Thinking that all was well, I pulled back onto the interstate, but a few minutes later, she was at it again. I repeated this process at least another 10 times before I finally decided to let the cat out of her carrier. She stumbled into my lap, curled up, and slept for almost the rest of the trip. The few times she did wake up, she panicked a little, but quickly calmed when she realized she wasn't in the carrier.

Now, I'm an army wife, and that means I move around a bit. I recently had to make a move, and I dreaded the trip with poor claustraphobic Prissy. Knowing I could not afford a repeat performance, I came up with a new strategy. Instead of a carrier, I purchased a puppy harness and leash. Instead of sedatives that overwhelm and disorient her, I purchased a claming spray. With the back seat full, and Prissy harnessed up, I placed the cuddle cup bed in the front seat and sprayed it with the calming spray. A few minutes later I was on the road with a much calmer and more relaxed prissy leashed to the buckle of the front seat.

The Harness and leash idea worked great for her. She was able to get into my lap, but not into the floorboards beneath the gas pedals. She was able to look out the window and didn't feel disoriented or as scared as she does in carriers. I only stopped twice for gas and to let her out, and the leash made sure she didn't escape the vehicle when I opened doors, and allowed her to take potty breaks with no problem. I now use the harness for vet visits, walks at the park, and any time I have to take a trip with her. It's the best solution I could have hoped for! It allows her to be more mobile and much more comfortable with vet trips and travel.

The traditional approaches aren't always the best ones. Sometimes medications are not the way to go. If you have a pet with special needs, try to think outside the normal suggestions, get creative, and maybe you'll find something that works better than you'd hoped!
post #2 of 3
That is beautiful, and thank you for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!!

post #3 of 3
I agree! Rocko would poo in his carrier. I decided this last trip to just harness him. It worked out great! He likes to pace, it calms him.
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