Carrier anxiety - and a move coming up!

PeeWee111

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My Kiki is now about 18 months old, and she's always been very anxious in the carrier when going to the vet. She cries and pants, almost to the point of hyperventilation. She's always fine when I let her out of the carrier when we get home (it's a 30-minute ride each way); she just hates being confined and is definitely not a "hold me" kitty. A larger carrier with a translucent top seemed to help last time I took her to the vet, but she was still quite upset both going and coming.

Now for the problem: We're moving to a new city early next week, and it'll be a 90-minute drive. I want her to be as comfortable as possible, so I called my vet for suggestions. The tech recommended Feliway spray and Gabapentin for the anxiety, as well as playing classical music in the car. After reading things about Feliway (both good and bad), I'm not sure if I should use it, or attempt the trip with just the Gabapentin (which I've never used on any of my cats), or just do nothing at all and hope for the best. I've thought about getting the Feliway tomorrow and putting just a tiny bit on a cloth to see if she has any reaction to it prior to the day of the trip. I don't want to have any kind of emergency on moving day! I also have a very large carrier that may be big enough for her favorite sleepytime pillow, and was thinking of getting that out and letting her investigate it first so that it won't be unfamiliar to her.

Any other suggestions out there for making this move as successful and stress-free as possible? I know this is only the first part of the battle - we have the new house to get all three cats accustomed to as well - but if we can get over the first hurdle, the rest of it might not be so bad.

PS - I don't have any real concerns about the other two cats making the trip, other than they're both 17 years old. They're generally okay in the car, though Baboo tends to howl for the first 10-15 minutes of travel.
 
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abyeb

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Hi there! To start, here’s a great article with a lot of helpful tips: How To Move With Your Cat To A New Home In A Safe Way – TheCatSite Articles

As for my recommendations, I have never personally used feliway with Charlie. I know cat owners who have had success with it, and also some who say it didn’t make a difference. I don’t know anyone who said that their cat had a bad reaction to feliway (although I don’t deny that there might have been cats who have reacted negatively to it), so I think it’s worth a try, especially since the vet tech recommended it.

Regarding the carrier, you might try using a soft-sided carrier, if you haven’t already. Some cats find that more comfortable. And, if you’re not doing it already, leave the carrier out, so that she starts to associate it with your home, instead of the stressful contraption she rides in to go to the vet. You could also put some treats in the carrier from time to time, so that she has more positive associations with it.
 

Mamanyt1953

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I don't know if you have time to do this, but let's give it a try. Take an old sheet that you don't mind ultimately throwing away and place it in a favorite lounging spot until moving day. Let them shed ALL OVER IT. Take the sheet, cut it into 12-18" squares, fold fur-side in, and store in a plastic bags IN THE CAR WITH YOU. As soon as you reach your new home, before your babies are even out of their crates, toss a few of the squares in each room. That way, as they explore their new home, they will smell themselves in every room. It's kinda like "instant territory."
 
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PeeWee111

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Hi there! To start, here’s a great article with a lot of helpful tips: How To Move With Your Cat To A New Home In A Safe Way – TheCatSite Articles

As for my recommendations, I have never personally used feliway with Charlie. I know cat owners who have had success with it, and also some who say it didn’t make a difference. I don’t know anyone who said that their cat had a bad reaction to feliway (although I don’t deny that there might have been cats who have reacted negatively to it), so I think it’s worth a try, especially since the vet tech recommended it.

Regarding the carrier, you might try using a soft-sided carrier, if you haven’t already. Some cats find that more comfortable. And, if you’re not doing it already, leave the carrier out, so that she starts to associate it with your home, instead of the stressful contraption she rides in to go to the vet. You could also put some treats in the carrier from time to time, so that she has more positive associations with it.
Many thanks for your advice, and for the link to the article!

Unfortunately, I used a soft carrier in the past and Her Majesty was not pleased with that one, either. Looks like the huge carrier might be my best bet, since it's a confinement issue. I hadn't thought about putting kitty treats in it, and that may just do the trick. She's crazy about the chicken flavored Temptations!
 
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PeeWee111

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I don't know if you have time to do this, but let's give it a try. Take an old sheet that you don't mind ultimately throwing away and place it in a favorite lounging spot until moving day. Let them shed ALL OVER IT. Take the sheet, cut it into 12-18" squares, fold fur-side in, and store in a plastic bags IN THE CAR WITH YOU. As soon as you reach your new home, before your babies are even out of their crates, toss a few of the squares in each room. That way, as they explore their new home, they will smell themselves in every room. It's kinda like "instant territory."
Good idea, and thank you! I do have some old sheets that I'll actually be getting rid of, so I'll "get cuttin'" on 'em.
 
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PeeWee111

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Gabapentin is magic. :loveeyes: My kitty was on it for some aggression issues for a couple months.
Thanks - that made me feel better about giving it to her. I've never had to medicate any of my cats (I've had 25 over my lifetime) prior to travel, so it's quite foreign territory to me.
 

Mamanyt1953

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Gab is great. My girl is...not easy. I've sometimes wondered if I should hire someone to come in and give her a gabapentin to calm her down enough for me to give her the gabapentin, LOL!
 
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