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Ziv's car problem

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Ziv’s appointment with the specialist is coming up, and I’m dreading the 30-minute ride there. Ziv is totally fine in the carrier—he doesn’t fight when I put him in, he doesn’t mind being carried around or hanging out in the waiting room…but he HATES the car. He starts with meowing, which becomes progressively more frantic. Then he starts letting out these deep, gulping meows (think “sobsâ€). Then he starts scrabbling at the sides and bottom of the carrier, and flipping himself over. Last time, he split one of his nails and scratched a big chunk out of his own nose. I talked to him the whole time, tried to keep my cool, and played soft classical music, but this didn’t seem to have any effect.

Luckily this time the bf will be with me, but from past experiences we know that this only helps a bit. So far, there are two things that calm him down in the car, neither of which is a good option:

1. We’ve taken him to the vet in our extra-large carrier, with Eva in there with him (she needed a check-up, too). He was great! Totally calm, didn’t even meow, and I think he was a comforting presence to her, too. The problem is that she’s such a timid little girl, and she doesn’t need to go to the specialist, so I don’t want to traumatize her with an unnecessary car ride, not to mention the experience of being at the vet.

2. Against my protestations, the bf once took Ziv out of his carrier and held him in his lap while I drove. I know that this is unsafe for everyone involved, so I hate doing it, but it did make a huge difference. He didn’t want to stay in the bf’s lap—he wanted to look around—but at least he wasn’t yowling and harming himself.

Last time we went to the specialist, I asked to have him sedated for the ride home, but that cost $23 (on top of the expensive visit), and it’s not my preferred way of dealing with it. Also, I don’t think it’s the best idea to sedate him before the visit. (By the way, he’s also fine when we’re at the vet—he likes to explore, doesn’t like being prodded much, but he doesn’t hiss, growl, or lash out. It’s just the car!) Does anyone have suggestions for how to deal with Ziv’s car problem?
post #2 of 5
I agree that it is unsafe to have them out of a carrier in the car, but, having said that, both Bijou and Mika go out in the car with us frequently. We are not going on highway trips but rather local trips where we are not driving very fast and even were we to have an accident, the damage would be minimal.

Neither cat is happy in the carrier. If they are out of the carrier they check everything out and then settle either in the back or on a lap.

We drive standard transmission so we ensure they do not get near the driver's side of the car.

Both cats are now quite comfortable in the car.

Our daughter has a Mini-Cooper and she puts the back seats down, puts down a blanket and a container of litter for Mika.

She also puts down a towel with a food and water dish in the passenger foot area. Mika is truly a "seasoned" traveller.

As I said, it isn't the safest way for them to travel, but if I'm all stressed out by their crying, I'm not the safest person to drive with either. This way we are all comfortable.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
It means a lot to read your post about this, because you seem so sensible about taking care of your cats. I'm thinking this is what we might do. One of us will chauffeur, and the other will sit in the back with Ziv and keep him away from the driver. Luckily, there is a non-highway route to this vet, so we won't be going more than 40 mph at any time.

If anyone else has any more ideas, though, I'd sure like to hear them!
post #4 of 5
I don't think you even have to have someone sit in back. Bijou and Mika have the run of the car except around the driver's feet. It is actually much easier for me to keep them away from the driver if I'm in the front seat beside the driver.

And of course, you have to be careful when exiting the car. I keep the harness on them in the car and the leash handy. I put the leash on before we open the car door so that if they jump out, we have them attached to us by the leash. Just an extra precaution.

Good luck. You may have to get them used to the harness by putting it on and letting them walk around the house with it on for awhile, but now Bijou knows that if he wants out he has to sit and wait while we put the harness on. (Once he's out he's a real Houdini about getting out of it, but at least he's trained to wear it! LOL)
post #5 of 5
i was experiencing the same issue with ChumChum. on our last car ride both cats were out of the carrier. while ChumChum still complained a little, it was definitely improved over the frenzy she would get in while caged up. once they got used to it they both basically found a seat and stayed there for the 1+ hour trip.

at the least, i think it's worth a try. good luck!
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