Motion Sickness in Cats
Some pet owners simply dread taking their cat to the vet. Bouts of nausea, vomiting, defecation and prolonged howling during the car ride creates a stressful situation for both owner and pet. Combating motion sickness in cats requires some careful thought and, at times, the intervention of your veterinarian. Basic care can help lessen the effects of motion sickness for your animal. Let’s look at why motion sickness happens and things you can do to increase your cat’s comfort.
Animals often associate travel with a trip to the vet. Pets are simply happiest at home in their normal environment. When you place your cat into a carrier, this triggers an anxiety response in the animal. It’s confined, stressed and may be remembering that last vet visit for shots and a checkup. Whatever the cause, calming your animal presents difficulties, especially when driving a car. Anxiety can often be mistaken for motion sickness in animals. Calm your animal with gentle words and pats. Often repetition and preparing the animal with simply sitting in the vehicle a few days before a trip will help acclimate the animal to the car environment.
Fear paired with the movement of a car can create the perfect situation for motion sickness. The causes of motion sickness originate in the balance center of the inner ear. Animals experiencing motion sickness often drool, whine, vomit and experience diarrhea. Just as with humans, this discomfort causes stomach upset and distress for the individual. Many animals can be conditioned to accept motion in vehicles with careful exposure to the increased movement over time. Others require vet intervention to make trips more tolerable.
Every animal requires patience and understanding when exhibiting symptoms of motion sickness. Don’t get angry at the animal, since it’s exhibiting a natural response to movement. Always place the cat inside an adequately sized pet carrier for travel. Include a soft and familiar towel to make a comfortable resting spot for the cat. Place the carrier in the center of the back seat, facing forward so it can see where it’s going.
Many humans stare at the horizon to calm motion sickness, and this works with pets as well. In addition, the very center of the car experiences less movement than the sides. Secure the cat inside the carrier and open a window to allow fresh air to circulate through the car. Traveling on an empty stomach also helps keep a cat from experiencing motion sickness.
If your cat simply cannot overcome motion sickness with simple remedies, consult with your vet about prescription medications to help the animal. Humans and dogs respond well with antihistamines to help control motion-related nausea. Cats’ bodies don’t respond to these drugs, but there are plenty of other options. Light sedatives and anti-nausea medications can help your cat have a more comfortable trip by car, bus, plane or train.