Cats are highly attached to territory, and movement away from that secure base is not something that is undertaken lightly! Traveling in cars, planes and other forms of human transportation can be a very stressful experience for all concerned, in part because the cat is no longer in control of its own experience.
For cats that are not used to being confined to a crate, being confined in a carrier adds insult to injury and the cat’s fear of leaving its familiar surroundings is compounded by its fear of being enclosed. In addition, cats that are not used to the motion and sounds of the car or plane may become quite frightened by the experience.
For most cats, travel is a relatively uncommon experience and there is simply not enough opportunity for any significant level of habituation to be achieved. Unlike dogs, who come to see the car as a chance to accompany their owners on what might be a fun and adventurous outing, most cats see travel as an entirely negative experience and the likely destinations of feline transport confirm this. Visiting destinations such as veterinary clinics, boarding kennels, and unfamiliar or new homes are probably the most common destinations for a traveling cat and none of these give much opportunity for teaching cats that travel is fun! Thus, each subsequent trip may be more anxiety evoking than the last.
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