Dr Barron and Ellen will try to help you with your cat(s) when you go on vacation.

“It’s vacation time.” What does that mean for you and your cats? So Ellen why don’t you jump off and talk about cats and vacation and maybe what things you should think about before you go on vacation. And we can give you some tips on if you decide you want to take your cat with you on vacation.
Right. Preparation is always the key before you decide to take your cat on vacation. Number one, does your hotel allow it? Do your family members allow it? Is your cat a good traveler, etc.? Because you have to think about the pet first, even though you may want your cat to travel with you. Your cat may want to have nothing to do with this kind of travel because it is super stressed. So if your cat is not the world’s best traveler, and you’re only traveling for a short period of time, perhaps they shouldn’t go on vacation with you versus if you do have a cat that’s wonderful in the car, easily adapts to any situation within moments then, yeah, that’s probably the kind of cat that would love to go travel and hang out with you. Kind of like when you see the new Camping with Cats and The Adventure Cats, it’s those ones, I love them. I love the camping with the cats’ website. I think it’s so cool.
Side note here, if you’re going to take your cat on a trip, you need to have it on flea prevention, period.
Yeah. And have a microchip and have harness and all that other fun of stuff.
And please make sure it has its rabies vaccine because the worst thing would be if you were in some other place, your cat gets away from you, there’s no microchip, it doesn’t have flea medication. I’m just seeing bad things in my head so I’m going to stop talking so just do that.
Right. So prep number one, the biggest thing is you better make sure that the cat is going to be compliant and prepared properly. So if you decide that your cat is the kind of cat that is going to travel with you and you guys are going to have the best vacation ever, well, then what happens next, if your cat’s a little stress stressed then what can we do kind of help ease that situation?
That sounds good. So asides for that, let’s talk about things you can do while you’re traveling with your cat in a car. So let’s talk about the benign products and then we’ll go to the little bit more strong products. So some benign products you can give your cat while you’re traveling to try and just kind of ease with transition. The first few things I’m going to mention, I would also recommend considering having your pet setter at the boarding facility give your pet too. First one is called Comfortis. It just helps you calm down a little bit. That’s pretty much what it does. It supports calming behavior and brain health. I think, there’s a lot of Tryptophan and Omega-3’s in it.
We actually had really good results with this with a lot of our boarding patients. We’ve had some of them that were a little difficult in easing into the transition of boarding, and then when we finally got them eating a couple of these treats, then they suddenly thought we were the best things since sliced bread [laughter].
Yes. And when we had the Vetri-Science representative come and speak to us, we gave one of these to Buddy, our big gray man downstairs [crosstalk]. He liked them, and then the rest of the day, he was like, “Hey, guys. Life is great.” So this is a great supplement. Just think of it as eating a big turkey dinner. You just feel relaxed afterward. Another one is called Zylkene. You can either get that from us or online, and that has a lot of milk casein . So it’s like having a nice warm glass of milk, just kind of calms you down. That’s a good idea also. Those are the two benign ones I’m going to talk about. The ones that are a little bit more–
Packs a pharmaceutical punch.
Yes. The first one is the one we like, which is called Gabapentin. I usually recommend giving one full capsule about two hours before you’re going to go somewhere. I routinely give my cats more than that because they are very stressed whenever they leave my house. And it has a very high window to go up, but we always start with one because in some cats one is way more than enough. And it doesn’t suppress your respiratory rate or your cardiovascular output, so that’s why we like to use it. It doesn’t affect your breathing or your heart rate. And it just kind of sedates them.
Right. And you will notice if you like the Gabapentin hold up, I know somebody or I’m on Gabapentin, etc. It is a drug for neuropathy pain, but the side effect of it is you get a little tired, and you kind of have that lackadaisical, I don’t care kind of attitude, which is wonderful for these stressed out kitty cats because it doesn’t have a really long span of feeling sedated, feeling weird. Your cat has this period of several hours of adjustment, and then eventually as the Gabapentin wears off, the cat’s already adjusted to the, what’s going on around them, and they kind of go with the flow afterwards. Now you may have to repeat it the next day when you start to stress them out again if they go back into the car [inaudible] the situation. But again, better to go ahead and readjust it. So that’s the side effect that we’re looking for with the Gabapentin. We’re not treating the neuropathy pain, but what we’re doing is we’re looking for the side effect of the sedation from it without interfering with the rest of the body.
In human patients, it can cause migraines, severe headaches. We haven’t seen that in cats. In a rare cat like very rare, I think I’ve seen it in two cats. And I am not give it out, I’m going to say, I give it out like candies, but I do. We give it out a lot, and I’ve only seen two cats react in four years, and they were just really wired. So it would be reversed. I think the spay feels good. I think they feel good. I think the spay feels good. So that’s one of the ones we would like to do, it’s called Gabapentin. You do have to have a veterinary client-patient relationship in order to get that within a year. The one I do not recommend under any reason for cats, unless we have taken them to a cardiologist would be Acepromazine. It’s a little bit old, I wouldn’t recommend it.
There are better products. So people still do use it because it’s inexpensive.
Right. And those poor cats get the third eyelids going up. Sometimes they still have that intense flight or fright response, even though they seem sedate. But all you have to do is poke them the wrong way or jostle them, and sometimes they can pop awake immediately. And that’s one of the reasons we don’t like Acepromazine.
If cats are stressed by having people in our house the Gabapentin work to reduce the stress? Yes. All of the products we mentioned would help. Just as an aside, depending on the type of stress, there’s also some herbs that work. One of them is called Shen Calmer which you would have to see us for too. And sometimes if you know that there’s going to be a super stressful event in your house, sometimes acupuncture and alternative medicine can help if we work on it together beforehand, or especially during thunderstorm season. I know that’s not usually as bad for cats as it is with dogs but I know there’s a lot of great protocols to help reduce the stress from thunderstorms and fireworks which in our area can be a lot in the next couple weeks.
And then while we’re also on talking about supplements and using pharmaceuticals, etc., a lot of times, simply one way of calming the cat down is simply removing any kind of visuals from them. So covering them with a sheet or even a pillow case, etc., something that you can still get vise airflow through but they’re not seeing everything going past them, or they don’t see anything coming at them in the car, kind of helps eliminate that stressor as well because when cats are stressed they do like to hide. But even though they’re in a cat carrier, they still feel unsafe. So covering them up tends to help quite a bit as well.
You also might want to try Feliway. You could spray towel Feliway spray the carrier, do that. Also, I’m trying to think of what website it’s on. Dr. Ilona Rodan has a really great video about how getting your cat comfortable in the carrier, just leaving them out. And I know that Afro cats, they train all of their cats to go into the carrier. So that might be something you think about doing too.
I leave all of my cat carriers open in my house in various spots and they use it as sleeping huts , and then when they’re there you just zoom up and go [laughter].