This post was originally written by Julie Rouch from purrfectbuslife.com with some minor edits from the Rufus & Coco team.
The three of us have been living on the open roads of Australia in our Vintage Mazda Bus since October 2020.
Nala, our rescued Cat was your average yet content house cat with no prior training before jumping into buslife with us and now she is a true explorer!
We document our travels as we love sharing Nala’s progress and journey from a skittish shelter cat to the professional explorer she is now, but also to share the knowledge we learnt the hard way about buslife with a cat in Australia and encourage all pet owners to be the responsible kind.
Before we jump straight into getting your cat car trained, here are some simple hacks you can do to prepare for this training.
One way to avoid your cat being hyper active while you’re on the road is to play with your cat before the adventure.
Avoid feeding your cat before hitting the road to minimise motion sickness. Your veterinarian can also help with some calming medication or a pheromone spray, but that is something to discuss with a professional.
- For longer rides, make sure to take regular breaks and ensure your cat stays hydrated.
We recommend getting your cat car trained at a time when you are not due for any vet visits, especially if your cat doesn’t like the vets. This is so your Cat does not associate the two as the same one thing.
So, what are the four simple ways to get your kitty car trained?
Introduce your Cat to the Car
Take your kitty to your car and first keep the doors open so your cat can come in and out of it (either have your cat on leash while doing so, or in an enclosed garage to avoid any escapes). Allow your cat to explore the car and sniff around.
Leave your cat backpack or carrier in the car (only if your kitty knows that this is a safe place). Encourage your cat to get in the backpack by making it feel homey. Positive reinforcement and treats will help you get the job done quickly.
Get in the car with your kitty and close the doors. Play with your cat in the car as this will help distract your kitty from what is happening. Again, use positive reinforcement or rewards for being cooperative.
Slowly increase the amount of time spent in the car. Keep doing that until your cat becomes at ease.
Another good thing to do is to turn on the ignition just to familiarise your cat with the sound (especially it it is a diesel engine). Do not move or drive the car around just yet and give your pet ample time to get used to the sound first
Once your cat is comfortable with the car and its sound it’s time to roll!
Ensure your kitty is safe either in the carrier or in the seat belt harness to avoid any untoward incident that might occur while you start driving.
Start with really short rides, in and out of the driveway or around the block for example.
Like with the previous steps, slowly increase the amount of time spent driving and reward your cat for being cooperative.
Consistency is Key
Ride often. Don’t let your Kitty forget all the progress that's been made. The last thing you'd want is to start again from scratch. So take your best friend with you as often as possible, make sure to have fun in the journey, and you'll be on your way to a whole lot of adventures and pawsome memories!