We aren’t the only ones who can suffer from motion sickness. Cats can also develop gastrointestinal distress while traveling in the car, and for some, traveling by air or boat can induce the same reaction.
Signs that your cat may be suffering from motion sickness:
- Lip licking
- Excessive drooling
- Urination or defecation
- Change in behavior
For some cats motion sickness may be caused by a super sensitive inner ear apparatus that regulates equilibrium and balance. The veterinarians in Markham say the anxiety and stress associated with leaving the familiar home environment and being contained in a travel carrier may also contribute to your cat’s physical response to travel, and for some cats motion sickness can become a conditioned response- the cat learns to associate car travel with nausea.
Although car sickness does not have any long-lasting health consequences, it can certainly be a challenge for your poor cat and you when you must clean up the mess. If your cat experiences motion sickness from car rides the veterinarians in Markham encourage you to try the following suggestions in hopes that your cat’s travels will become more comfortable.
Ways to help decrease your cat’s motion sickness:
- Start by acclimating your cat to his/her travel carrier at home. Ideally, leave the door to the carrier open and, when your cat spends time inside, reward him with plenty of highly desirable treats and their favorite types of toys.
- Graduate to having your cat spend time in the travel carrier while in the car, without the motor running. After several days of this, turn on the engine but don’t move the car. This can be followed by short road trips. Gradually build up car travel time, ideally winding up back at home, where your kitty will be rewarded. Keeping the car cool and playing music may provide some extra benefit.
- Placing something in the carrier that smells familiar, such as a blanket or article of clothing can give them the sense that they are still at home.
- Placing the travel crate in the car such that it is facing forward may help prevent car sickness as well. Cover the crate in a way that prevents your cat from looking out, other than in a forward direction.
- Traveling when your cat has an empty stomach (no food for 4-6 hours) can help reduce your cat’s motions sickness and if not reduce the amount of clean up for you.
- If you have access to more than one vehicle, see if one produces a more favorable response for your cat than the other. People will even tell you that they are more prone to motion sickness in some cars compared to others so why not your cat.
- Talk to your veterinarians in Markham about medication, there is a drug that was developed specifically for the prevention of car/motion sickness in dogs. It is also safe and effective in cats. These usually work best when given one to two hours prior to travel.
- Over the counter medications developed for people with motion sickness are not as effective for cats. Additionally, many of them can cause significant drowsiness. Do not use these products without first checking in with your veterinarians in Markham.
- Pheromone products can provide a calming effect for some cats. Speak to your veterinarian in Markham for a recommendation.
- Medications such as Valium or rescue remedy that are meant to reduce anxiety, may provide benefit. Talk with your veterinarian in Markham about this option, and be sure to give the product a test run at home before using it for a car ride.
- Aromatherapy with lavender has been shown to significantly reduce car ride-induced anxiety in dogs, according to an AVMA article. While not tested in cats, this is certainly worth a try.
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Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham
Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.
Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).
Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.