Help! My Cat Gets Carsick!

It's not for the reason you’d think 🤢

cat gets carsick

Being carsick is no fun for you, and it’s especially not fun for your cat.

It’s heartbreaking to see your cat get queasy in the car (especially if you’ve been there too and can feel his pain).

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Tom Elston, cat specialist and owner of T.H.E. Cat Hospital in California, who explained why cats get carsick and how you can help.

Cats and carsickness

“Like people, cats can get carsick too,” Dr. Elston told The Dodo. “Carsickness is a form of motion sickness, much like we experience when in a car, on a boat, or up in a plane.”

But rather than getting nauseous from the speed of the car or bumps in the road like people do, a cat’s motion sickness is actually a result of stress or anxiety.

This is because cats don’t usually ride around in the car very often, so probably they aren’t used to it the way dogs are.

Not to mention, cats often associate car rides with going to the vet, which can be a source of anxiety for them.

Signs of carsickness

“The most common symptom of motion sickness in cats is vomiting, but it may be combined with peeing or pooping in their carrier if they’re particularly anxious,” Dr. Elston explained.

Other signs include:

  • Vocalization
  • Restlessness
  • Drooling
  • Licking lips
  • Lethargy

What to do

Since travel sickness in cats is rooted in anxiety, the first thing you should do is contact your vet.

“Depending on your cat’s needs, your vet may be able to prescribe medications to help with anxiety or nausea, and can provide more specific recommendations based on your cat’s age, health, and temperament,” Dr. Elston said.

There are also some over-the-counter items you can try to supplement your vet’s treatment plan.

Like this Feliway calming travel spray from Chewy for $13.99

In addition to treatment recommended by your vet, you should also try to get your cat more comfortable with his carrier.

If he thinks of it as a safe space, traveling inside it could help ease his anxiety. 

You can do this by leaving it out at home so he gets used to hanging out in it, or even filling it with some of his favorite treats so he knows it’s a place where good things happen.

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