Posts tagged ‘cats’

Reducing Cat Stress during Car Rides


Most cats are frightened while riding in cars

Most cats are frightened while riding in cars

How many cats do you know that love to ride in a car? The fact is, cats aren’t dogs, and most cats are unlikely to ever enjoy a car ride the way some of their canine counterparts do. The goal of my blog isn’t to convert your cat into an easy rider, but since cats have to ride in cars sometimes, my goal is to describe a few simple actions you can take to make the car ride less stressful for you and your cat.

Most car rides lead to a visit to the vet

Most car rides lead to a visit to the vet

Unfortunately, cats and car rides are inevitable. While cats don’t have to commute to work every day, according to the AAHA-AVMA Feline Preventive Healthcare Guidelines, cats should be taken to the veterinarian at least once a year. Anyone who has ever ridden in a car with a meowing, stressed-out feline knows how unpleasant the car ride can be for everyone involved. The solution involves understanding the underlying problem. For most cats, the only time they are ever in a car is when they are placed in a carrier and taken to the veterinarian where they are examined from head to tail by a total stranger, have their temperature taken rectally, and may even get shots! So can you blame them if they don’t like going in a car? It’s not like getting into a car ever means a trip to Disneyland to see the world’s biggest rodent. Nope! For most cats, the car means one thing and one thing only — a trip to the doctor to get poked and prodded.

So what can you do to make the car ride more enjoyable for everyone involved? Here are a few tips:

Make sure your cat has an ID tag

Make sure your cat has an ID tag

Prepare your cat for the car ride Make sure your cat has current identification tags before he leaves the house. I am a firm believer in microchips and ID tags for all animals, even indoor-only cats. As a shelter vet, I have seen way too many lost cats and heard too many stories about cats getting lost while going to the vet. Some cats will try to dart out the door the moment they realize they are going to the veterinarian. Others try to escape from their carrier if the carrier door is not properly secured. So before you go, make sure your cat has a collar, ID tags, and ideally a microchip.

Never let your cat roam freely inside the car.  Always use a crate.

Never let your cat roam freely inside the car. Always use a crate.

Your cat should be secured in the car Keep all traveling cats in a carrier. This is for your own safety as well as your cat’s safety. It is not safe to have your cat roaming freely in your vehicle while you are driving. Your cat could become frightened and dart under the brake pedal or accelerator, possibly causing an accident. In addition, having a cat jumping around the vehicle is a dangerous distraction. To be safe, always keep your cat in a secure carrier.

Get your cat comfortable with his crate

Get your cat comfortable with his crate

Get your cat acclimated to the carrier before the trip Can you imagine being awoken from your afternoon nap by someone grabbing you, and then cramming you into an unfamiliar box while you are kicking and screaming? Well that might describe how our cats feel when we put them in a carrier to take them to the vet. It’s easy to see why cats might hate going in a carrier. So instead of sneaking up on them and forcing them into the carrier, we should strive to make the carrier a more positive experience. Bring the carrier out a few days ahead of time so that your cat can become accustomed to it. Leave the door of the crate open so he can explore as he pleases. Spray the interior of your cat carrier with a synthetic, feline pheromone-product. These products have been shown to decrease stress in cats. You can also put some of your cat’s favorite treats or catnip inside the carrier so that your cat associates the carrier with a positive experience. Avoid treats if your cats is being fasted for anesthesia or special blood tests. Make the carrier more inviting by placing a cozy blanket from home and your cat’s favorite toys inside. Putting familiar objects inside will make the carrier less foreign and more inviting.

Take your cat for a short trip in the car to help him get used to riding.

Take your cat for a short trip in the car to help him get used to riding.

Take short car rides with your cat first Practice makes perfect. Start by sitting in the car with your cat in his carrier for just a few minutes, then go back inside and reward your cat with a treat. Then go on short trips, like going around the block, in order to acclimate your cat to being in a carrier and in a car. Remember to always reward him after the drive, so that he associates car rides with positive experiences.

Know when to get help for your cat If you’ve tried all of these things and your cat still goes crazy whenever he goes for a ride in the car, get help! Ask your veterinarian if a sedative might be helpful for your cat before car rides. To avoid car rides altogether, ask your veterinarian if he makes house calls.

Written By Dr. Ruth MacPete, DVM

Pet Health Network

May 3, 2016 at 5:27 pm Leave a comment

“Roughneck Homes” – Outdoor Protective Cat Shelter Instructions

What are “Roughneck Homes”?

Roughneck Containers are large Rubbermaid Bins used for storing goods in your home or commercial setting and have become a popular means to providing a safe and secure living environment for stray cats. With a little creativity, these containers can be transformed into adequate shelter to protect against environmental and predatorial dangers. Cold weather insulation and feeding stations are also easy improvements in areas where feline lives are at ever greater risk.

Roughneck Homes are easy to make and a lot of fun. Using the instructions and pictures below, you can construct your feral cat shelter in just 15 minutes. Always use the utmost caution when using a blade or knife to make the entrance/exits of your shelter.

 Simon Smith (age 12) pictured with his shelter and cat - Scratches. Simon is the driving force behind the Roughneck Homes Program

Simon Smith (age 12) pictured with his shelter and cat – Scratches. Simon is the driving force behind the Roughneck Homes Program

Depending on the climate, shelter may actually be more important for survival than even food.  Dry, wind-proof shelter can do a large part in fending off frostbite in the ears and paws from elements such as freezing winds, snow and rain.  While feral cats typically build a thick protective coat for winter, the effectiveness of their fur as insulation is greatly reduced as it becomes wet or frozen and can often times result in hypothermia.

“Roughneck Homes” Shelter – Easy to make home suitable for one to two cats

(1)Rubbermaid Tote - 18 GL Pictured. (2) Styrofoam Cooler. (3) Hay or Straw. (4) Duct Tape. (5) Exacto Knife

(1) Rubbermaid Tote – 18 GL Pictured. (2) Styrofoam Cooler. (3) Hay or Straw. (4) Duct Tape. (5) Exacto Knife

Start by cutting a 6" diameter hole in the tote to act as an entrance or exit. *Always cut away from your body*

Start by cutting a 6″ diameter hole in the tote to act as an entrance or exit. *Always cut away from your body*

Insert your StyroFoam cooler insulation and cut a matching 6" diameter hole to match the tote.

Insert your StyroFoam cooler insulation and cut a matching 6″ diameter hole to match the tote.

Add hay or straw in and around the Styrofoam cooler for added insulation, using as much as possible

Add hay or straw in and around the Styrofoam cooler for added insulation, using as much as possible

Add your Styrofoam lid for added insulation. Secure lid in place with a few pieces of duct tape.

Add your Styrofoam lid for added insulation. Secure lid in place with a few pieces of duct tape.

Complete by adding your lid back onto the tote. You may want to place additional duct tape on the lid as well

Complete by adding your lid back onto the tote. You may want to place additional duct tape on the lid as well


Concept by Indy Feral. Application by Simon Smith (pictured above)

November 16, 2014 at 5:50 pm Leave a comment

Vets Corner: Spring Hazards

Sick dog 02
Spring in most veterinary hospitals is the busiest time of the year for routine care such as annual physicals, vaccines, heartworm and tick disease testing, and picking up heartworm and flea and tick preventatives. What we don’t count on is the sharp increase in emergency cases that occur from the increase in outdoor activities.

Female dogs come into heat twice yearly and nearly all come into season in the spring. Intact male dogs can pick up the scent from miles away and will follow the scent without paying attention. This past weekend I personally saw four dogs that were hit by cars for this very reason. They either got out of their enclosures, or a family member let them out unattended. A pet being hit by a car is one of the most devastating emergencies that we see and in most cases the injuries are severe and many times fatal. The most common cause of death for cats that go outside is being hit by a car. As traumatic as the injury to the pet, it is also traumatic to the family as in most cases the loss could have been prevented. I myself lost a young dog in the street when my son’s friend forgot to close the gate so this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart in more ways than one.

Another very common hazard as pets are out exploring is exposure to toxins. Antifreeze poisoning is very common this time of the year. Antifreeze, ethylene glycol, is a toxin that is often drained and left in a pan or bucket and forgotten. It has a very sweet taste so both cats and dogs will drink it readily. Only a very small amount can cause complete kidney failure within 48 hours. There is an antidote if discovered very early, but once the symptoms of kidney disease appear it is usually fatal. We take any exposure to antifreeze, no matter how small, very seriously for that reason.

cats fighting
Coyotes and other predators are becoming much more common in towns and suburban communities and if cats and little dogs are left outside unattended they are, unfortunately, considered prey. Many cats get the urge to go outside as the weather improves. They are territorial and will get into fights with other cats leading to very painful abscesses. These bites are the way viruses like feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency are spread. Both of these diseases have no cure, so the only treatment is prevention.
dog running

Exercise for our pets is very important in maintaining good health for life, but it is important to make sure that the type of exercise is safe. A good brisk walk on leash is a great way to do so, but is not possible in all areas of the country year round. Off leash dog parks can be a great way for a dog to run off leash, but it is still important to pay attention that the dogs all get along. Doggy day care businesses are becoming very popular and can be very helpful in the winter to keep the pet socialized and fit. There are great toys and activities to keep your cats active inside the house and websites exist that demonstrate how to create a cat friendly room so that going outside does not become an issue.

Have a happy and safe spring and summer!
By: Dr Landorf, Oakwood Hills Animal Hospital

May 25, 2014 at 6:00 pm Leave a comment

Safe Summer Outings for your Pets



  • While your pup may leap at the opportunity for a joy ride, leaving any pet—dog, cat, rabbit, etc.— alone in a parked car during warm weather can be deadly. On a warm day, temperatures inside a vehicle can rise rapidly to dangerous levels. On an 85 degree day, for example, the temperature inside a car, even with the windows cracked open, can reach 102 degrees within just 10 minutes, and after 30 minutes the temperature will reach up to 140 degrees. Even when the temperature outside is a balmy 72 degrees, the temperature inside your car can rocket to a fatal 116 degrees in less than an hour.

dog on hot pavement

  • Your four-legged friend needs exercise too. However, exercising in the summer heat can be just as uncomfortable for your pet as it is for you. Take your walks in the early mornings or late evening, not in the heat of midday, and remember that hot pavement can burn the pads of your pet’s paws.

Dog in moving car

  • Keep your pet inside moving cars whenever you travel. A carrier is the safest place for your cat. Letting your dog travel with his or her head outside the open car window is dangerous—flying particles and debris can cause eye damage, and some pets have actually fallen out of moving vehicles. And dogs should never ride unsecured in the back of pickup trucks, regardless of how slow you are moving.


July 23, 2013 at 4:43 pm 1 comment

Friday tip of the day – Ear Infections

One of the most common and often frustrating problems that we see in dogs and sometimes cats are ear infections.  The medical term is otitis.  Ear infections in people usually occur at or inside the eardrum called otitis media.  In dogs and cats most infections occur in the canal on the outside of the eardrum called otitis externa.

Otitis externa can occur in any pet causing itchy, red, and foul smelling ears with dark brown or yellow discharge.  Ear infections are very itchy and painful and pets will paw or scratch at their ears, shake their head, or even rub the floor or furniture with their ears.  At times the scratching will cause sores inside the ear flap (pinna) or on the side of the face causing a hot spot like infection.

Although any pet is susceptible to ear infection, pets with allergies (either food or environmental), thyroid disease, parasites like ear mites, or growths in the canal are much more likely to have infection.  A complete physical exam and exam of a swab from the material in the ear canal is necessary to identify the organism as well as any underlying illness that can make otitis more likely to occur.  In most cases the infection responds very quickly to the appropriate medication and after 7-10 days may completely resolve.  I always recommend a follow-up exam and swab to make sure the infection is gone.

In cases where the infection does not resolve as expected, the pet may have chronic otitis.  Chronic otitis is very frustrating as regular treatment either does not completely clear the infection, or the infection reoccurs very quickly after treatment.  With chronic or long lasting inflammation in the ear the tissues lining the canal become thickened leading to narrowing or even closure of the canal.  This makes it difficult or even impossible to treat topically with medicines.  In the worst cases of chronic otitis externa medical therapy is not very effective and surgery may be needed to open the ear canal or actually remove the diseased tissue.

October 19, 2012 at 1:02 am Leave a comment

Friday tip of the day – Travel in a Car with Your Pet Cat

Learn About Caring for Cats on a Car Trip

By a Staff Writer of

Cat lovers hate to leave their feline buddies behind during car trips and holidays, but usually even a short car trips prompts cats to become almost feral – moaning, pacing, hissing and clawing. And yet these short trips to the vet or a petsitter’s house are an unavoidable part of a cat’s life. So how can we make the trip as painless as possible for them and for ourselves?

Here are some pet friendly travel tips to help you learn how to travel in a car with your pet cat.

  • Cat carrier. A free-ranging cat within a car is a recipe for disaster. Contrary to what we might assume, the confinement will actually comfort your cat as she embarks on this strange journey. And if you give her the entire car, you will find safe driving to be far more challenging.  Before you take your cat for car rides, try to get her acclimated to the inside of her pet carrier. Put a blanket in it and place her inside for brief periods of time each day for several days. Lengthen the period of confinement each day until your cat seems at ease resting and smelling her scent in there.
  • Prepare for longer car trips by taking short, easy trips leading up to the big one. Your cat will grow more accustomed to not only the motions and noises of a car, but also the confinement within the carrier.
  • Make sure she’s not sitting at a slant. Many car seats are actually slanted a bit and, if you place the cat carriers down the wrong way, it makes for a rather uncomfortable kitty car ride. While it’s true that cats have incredible balance and coordination, no cat wants to be constantly fighting against a slope as she also tries to compensate for the movements of the car. Use a folded blanket or towel to level out the carrier.

  • Avoid loud music. Your car will already be filled with some startling noises for a cat. Don’t add to them by blasting music in the confined space as well.
  • Steer clear of bumps and potholes as much as you can. If there are smooth roads that can serve as an alternate route from the bumpier way you normally travel, opt for those alternates when driving with your cat.

  • Potty issues. If your journey is long enough to require potty breaks for your feline friend, planning ahead is your best option. Some suggest placing a litter box within a larger cat carrier, but outdoor potty breaks are better for several reasons.

Your cat is cozier in a smaller carrier, and could perhaps fall into the litter box if his carrier is jostled (definitely unpleasant for fastidious felines). Does your cat often lie down next to his litter box at home? Probably not.

Your cat will definitely appreciate the opportunity to stretch her legs once in a while.

Keeping the business outside will keep your car from smelling like cat waste.

Regardless of the duration of your car trip, it’s a good idea to put some absorbent towels at the base of your cat carrier, in case Kitty has an accident.

  • Leash-training. In order to take your cat outside for potty breaks on a longer car trip, train her to wear a harness.

  • Create a window seat. Dogs absolutely love looking out car windows during a drive, of course, while cats are less enamored… but providing a view of the outdoors will help your cat make sense of the movement she perceives, which means that she may become a little less vocal and a little more fascinated by the journey. Not every cat is the same, but providing such a view is relatively simple and therefore worth a try.

To do this, simply strap your cat carrier to a piece of luggage or even a box of the appropriate height, and see if your cat settles down for the ride. If the carrier rattles and bumps unpleasantly on top of the platform, add a blanket or pillow between the two to act as a cushion. Be sure to strap the carrier securely, however, and make sure the platform is too heavy to move during transit.

  • Be sure the breathable areas of the pet carriers are not obscured by anything in the car. The last thing you want to do is overheat and stifle your cat in an environment with too little air movement.

  • Don’t give food or water immediately before a brief drive. If your cat drinks or eats right before a quick, yet alarming car ride, unfortunate potty accidents may occur. Even if you don’t end up with a mess, a full bladder makes your cat feel all the more uneasy in that carrier during the car ride.
  • Pack some tap water from home. This water tastes more familiar to a bewildered cat who may be reluctant to drink strange water. To prevent dehydration and provide a source of comfort and familiarity, give your cat some water from home.

These tips about caring for your cat during a car trip should help you have a calm, quiet ride. Car rides with your cat may never be a walk in the park, but some planning and attention to small details can help all passengers (feline and otherwise) enjoy the trip far more.


  • Nobody expects their cat to escape during a long car trip, but sometimes this nightmare becomes reality. Prepare for all possibilities by investing in an ID tag for your beloved cat.
  • If you’re on a road trip with your cat, don’t leave your fur-clad friend inside a hot car! You may consider a 70 degree day to be mild, but your car will become an oven. Cats and dogs can quickly overheat and even die inside a car. And even if the temperature outside is not hot at all, crack all windows and don’t leave the car for too long, because a cat’s body heat can warm up a car as well (anyone who’s ever fallen asleep with a cat knows about the kitty’s body heat already).

For more tips and informative articles dedicated to solving life’s everyday problems go to

August 17, 2012 at 7:34 am Leave a comment