Motion sickness in cats → how to fix it?

Because you have to go to the vet, you go on a trip or for any other reason you have to transport kitty by car? In your heart of hearts, you know then that it will be the drama: heartbreaking meows or growls immediately after starting, before your cat starts drooling, vomiting, even urinating or defecating in its crate. In short, the total disaster! Your feline has car sickness and he’s not the only one. Fortunately, there are solutions for this problem.

Two main causes of motion sickness in cats

As in humans, having car sickness in cats can be linked to an inner ear problem. The organs that make up the latter, essential for maintaining balance, then poorly analyze the movements of the vehicle, which leads to nausea. Since the structures of the inner ear develop over time, motion sickness will affect young cats more and may go away with age.

Unfortunately, this is not systematic. Above all, motion sickness in cats is also significantly aggravated by anxiety and stress. They alone can cause the various symptoms described above. And in this case, each additional trip by car is likely to make the situation worse: your cat will then remember the bad past experience, will be even more stressed and therefore even more sick…

Use positive reinforcement techniques

To prevent your cat from getting car sick, there are a few steps you can take. First of all, place your crate on the floor (the safest place and where there are the least vibrations) and adopt a smooth and smooth ride. Also avoid putting on loud music and turn on the air conditioning or open the windows during the journey. These different methods can relieve your feline a little, but will probably not be fully effective if he is really stressed in the car. The best treatment will rather consist in accustoming him to travel. This requires positive reinforcement techniques, which will gradually “condition” it.

This method is done in several steps and can take some time. Start to get your cat used to its transport crate, then put it in the car for 10 minutes every day for a week. Stay stationary without starting the engine and take the time to stroke your cat and play with him so that he is confident. Then repeat the experience, still without driving, but this time turning on the engine. After performing this ritual again every day for a week, start taking short trips with your cat (first 10 minutes, then a little longer each time) so that he gets used to the movements gently. . At the end of each session, you can use small treats to reward him.

Some remedies to relieve motion sickness

By gradually accustoming your cat to traveling, you will reduce stress, which is a major factor in motion sickness. In order to reduce the risk of vomiting, also take care to give only light food the days preceding a trip and not to feed it in the 2 hours preceding departure.

If you have not been able/succeeded in getting your cat used to traveling, finally know that different treatments may be prescribed to you by your veterinarian. These will be antihistamines (against vomiting) or tranquilizers. But these remedies can cause drowsiness or side effects, so they should only be considered as a last resort. Also, more “natural” remedies can be tested beforehand, such as the diffusion of soothing pheromones or homeopathy.