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I Need Your Help . . . How to Move Cats That Hate Cars!

It's that time again – a TeamSugar user needs our help with her three kitties, two of which (Chloe and Lucky) are shown above. All three adopted cats are around six years old and have made their home with hottpink and her husband for some time now. The whole fam is moving and she's uncertain how to get her car- and change-fearing cats used to the move and the new place. Please offer your advice after checking out her story when you


Our three cats HATE cars and they HATE moving – how can we make the move easier on them? Should we take them over to the new house once before we actually move in so they can smell and check everything out or, since they are also afraid of the car, should we not traumatize them with two extra car rides? I am just worried about my kitties and I want this to be easy on all of us! Any suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated!

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tejo14 tejo14 9 years
I moved my 2 cats about a year ago - they both despise the car and despise change more. I had movers coming, so I decided moving them to the house prior to having stuff in it was better. I put them both in the master bedroom, shut the door and turned on the radio. This gave them much less new to be afraid of. They decided to go smaller, and stayed in the walkin closet for most of the first 3 days. One cat handled this much rougher than the other, she wasn't eating or drinking, so I ended up brushing her with a wet washcloth, so she licked that water off of herself, getting some liquid in her. After 3 days or so, I opened the bedroom door, and they would venture out in little spurts, and eventually took over the house. Even now - when something happens that they don't like (such as a doorbell) they still return to their safety room - which is the master bedroom. So - the valium would have been good for one cat, the other was skittish but ok.
hottpink hottpink 9 years
Thanks again! These are some really good tried and true tips! bluesarahlou-I know exactly what you mean when people don't put their kitties in something when they go into the vets office!!!! It drives me nuts! ;) Haha, at fuzzles....stoned, pissed kitty :) So what exactly is a "bulldog" clip?
lawchick lawchick 9 years
About the benadryl --- I tried it on my vet's advice and my cat ended up foaming at the mouth (A LOT - it was creepy). I went back to the vet and got "kitty valium" and would give it to my cat for long rides (like 2 hours). It made him agitated and confused for awhile, but then he would fall asleep. It wasn't great, but it was better than nothing (with nothing, he would cry and bang his face into the grate on the carrier for two hours!)
stefsprl stefsprl 9 years
Our cats were the same way! We moved them to the new house very last thing, and then we kept them in our new bedroom only for the first few days. This let them get comfortable in a new space without overwhelming with the whole house. Once we saw that they were returning to their old selves, we let them out to explore the rest of the place. They've been great ever since! Good luck!
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
Advice from Martha Stewart's Vet and IT WORKS! Get two large bulldog clips. Take one bulldog clip and one cat. Stroke the cat then firmly grab the cat by the scruff of the back of their neck. Grab the are where their mothers used to pick them up when they were kittens. FIRMLY grab this area and pull the skin back and attach the bulldog clip to the skin. This does not hurt the cat. It simply puts them in a very calm trance that reminds them of when their mothers used to groom and soothe them. Once the clip is attached placed them in the cat carrier and leave the clip on. You may have to occasionally adjust the clip as the cat moves BUT the cat should stay calm and actually be in a blissful trance like state until a few minutes after the bulldog clip aka "The Mama Clip" is removed. The "mama clip" also works if you need to administer medicine, clip nails or clean ears on a difficult, antsy cat. Peaceful journey.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
Depending on how warm the weather is, you might want to throw towels or items of clothing that you have recently used or worn (but not washed) into the clothes dryer, then line the crates with them. You could do this as well once you move to your new place. Just put the warmed towels/clothing in an area that they choose as their "safety zone" while they adjust to their new surroundings.
fuzzles fuzzles 9 years
I would duct tape the cats to the car bumpers. Just kidding! :) Actually, I think I would ask the vet for a single dose sedative well before the move so that you can test it on the cats for effectiveness. When I moved cross-country, I didn't test my cat prior to the move. Mistake! I ended up with a stoned, pissed off, and yet, strangely, still growling Himi. 1300 miles worth! Another thing you might want to look into if you want to go more holistic is Bach's Rescue Remedy. It is a anti-anxiety liquid composed of flower essences that you can give orally or mix with their drinking water. The stuff is widely available at health stores and natural grocery stores. Just make sure you get the childrens version as the regular formula has alcohol in it. Hope this helps!
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
I think it can be calming for cats travel better if they're in my lap, in the doesn't have to be tied shut...that way you can reach inside to pet them. I know it doesn't work for every cat but for mine it does. Also, working in a vet clinic...lots of people came in with their cat, but with no type of carrier. And they thought it wasn't a big deal! We always insisted on some type of carrier (and we carried pillowcases for clients with nothing). You NEVER know how your cat is going to behave when you get into an unfamiliar environment. Anyway...tangent :) Try the pillowcase method!
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
Yup, inside the pillowcase. Kinda like snakes ;)
hottpink hottpink 9 years
My kitties say thanks as well :)
hottpink hottpink 9 years
Great! Thanks everyone, your comments have been very helpful! The pillow case idea sounds great for Lucky, he LOVES boxes, bags, etc. I will also have to try the natural sedative. My vet one time suggested half of a baby benadryl...has anyone heard of that before? All of them were declawed when adopted them so the are strictly indoor kitties, my hubby makes fun of me because I trained one to walk on a leash :) They all seem to do well when they are together so I think I will load them up in the car all at one time. Also, they all have there own "blanket or towel" type thing that I will keep with them at all times!!! Thanks again....more suggestions are definitely welcome!! I will let you know how it goes....we start moving in today!!!
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Get a sedative. Thats what they do for dogs. Also, you should have everything moved in 1st so they can see and smell all their familiar stuff. Thats what I did for my dog, so all he had to do was come in and jump up on his sofa and he felt at home. Not sure if he ever wondered why his sofa was in a different home, but anyways he didnt seem to mind at all since we were together!
Brooklynbee Brooklynbee 9 years
I have two cats and when traveling (or in any other situation!) they are fine if they are together but they can't stand to be apart. If they are in two separate carriers in a car they freak out. However, if I put them in one extra large carrier together they are totally fine.
Amyenurse Amyenurse 9 years
Hello! I have heard about the natural kitty anti-anxiety product called Feliway (I am not sure of spelling). I know you can give it prior to car rides and they even have these atomizer thing that releases it into the room. Maybe you could get one for the new house to calm the kitties nerves! Godd luck!
clareberrys clareberrys 9 years
bluesarahlou...inside of them? i feel like this might work with one of my cats because he loves to lay inside of boxes and plastic bags....does this work?
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
I know it sounds strange-but some cats travel better in pillowcases.
brittanyk brittanyk 9 years
Yeah, I agree with lawchick. Definitely don't bring your cats over until you have everything moved in. That will give them something that they're familiar with. Other than that, I don't know what to tell you about the cat in the car issue. My cat hates riding in the car. Once again, my cat has a blanket on one of my chairs he aways lays on, I generally bring that with me just so he has something he's used to while in the car.
lawchick lawchick 9 years
Oh gosh, my older cat is like this. I know this sounds stupid, but try not to be anxious about it around your cats - I swear they can tell something is going on and will freak out. I didn't take my cat to my house before moving in because he hates being in the car sooooooo much. I just put his litter box and food somewhere obvious (for a week or so) and let him hide for awhile. He quit hiding and slinking after about a week, and eventually became a much happier cat with all his new space. Oh I also didn't bring him over until everything was moved in. I thought all the noise and coming and going would freak him out even more. Good luck!!!
eleigh eleigh 9 years
Check with your vet for safe sedatives for when the kitties are traveling. Also I know one of the reasons cats don't like to move has to do with the position of the sun! That's why a lot of the time when pets run away they return to the old residence. If your kitties are indoor/outdoor give them some time to adjust to the new placement of the sun at your new residence before letting the outside! Good luck!
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