You might be forgiven for thinking that only humans get motion sickness. Unfortunately, we don’t hear complaints from animals to get a diagnosis.
The Maine Coon is a hardy and robust breed of cat, domesticated from the decks of seafaring ships.
So what about a small trip in a car?
Can a Maine Coon suffer car sickness or motion sickness?
A Maine Coon can suffer from car sickness or motion sickness as humans do. Primary causes are genuine motion sickness, anxiousness about the travel, and conditioned responses from prior travel. Acclimatization and positive reinforcement trips work well in combating travel sickness..
As it happens, my Alita suffers from motion sickness so I know it’s a very real thing.
She is much happier in a carrier and she acclimatizes to travel quite quickly as she gets used to traveling.
Humans, dogs, and cats can all suffer from motion sickness.
Cats, in particular, can suffer gastrointestinal anguish as well, so there’s a fair bit to learn.
Well, as motion sickness is a prelude to vomiting, then a Maine Coon going quiet for a while is the first sign. Then a little round of meowing and unease.
Then followed by vomiting, you can pretty much say your Maine Coon has motion sickness.
The symptoms of motion sickness are;
Some of those are better than others but ultimately the feeling of being sick in a car or other vehicle will result in vomiting.
There are three main causes of motion sickness in Maine Coons
Firstly, it’s the genuine imbalance caused by vehicular motion and lack of ability to discern the motion.
Motion sickness can be cured sometimes by fixing the eyes on the horizon so the brain ‘grounds’ itself against the motion.
A lot more humans get motion sickness on boats for example because they can’t fix against the horizon.
Secondly, the event could be traumatic in itself. A Maine Coon being caged and going in a car may cause anxiety to them.
This unease causes distress and contributes to motion sickness.
Thirdly, it could be more of a conditioned response.
In the past the Maine Coon may remember the feeling and it brings it all back again.
It may be more psychosomatic rather than real, having previously learned car travel is something that causes illness.
Right upfront, much like humans, some cats are just more prone to travel sickness.
There may be no way to avoid it entirely but only to mitigate it.
By far the best way to get a Maine Coon to stop being sick in a car is acclimatization.
That is, get them used to the travel, and that everything will be OK.
A lot of cat trips end up at the vet’s. Is that the reason? They feel anxious about the vets, not the car trip itself.
Try varying the destinations, and make simple trips with them to accustom them to the ‘everything is OK’ car trip.
You could also get the Maine Coon accustomed to the traveling carrier.
Why not just try leaving the travel carrier out, leaving the door open, and let them get used to the item, rather than it being a source of distress.
It’s then a simple matter of slow incremental stages that are small steps over a long period.
Once they get used to the carrier, try placing a food bowl in there.
After the Maine Coon eats a few meals in there, you can carry them to another room occasionally.
Then a trip to the car.
Then a trip to the car and turn the engine on.
Eventually, you might want to take a small trip to a local coffee shop or something and let them be outside on a leash.
Give your Maine Coon plenty of fuss and treats and suddenly the travel carrier doesn’t seem so frightening.
Motion sickness for all its unpleasantness is only a temporary condition.
So firstly, make sure you have plenty of wipes, alcohol wipes, hand towels, and a rubbish bag.
If everything doesn’t work, you will certainly need to clear up the mess.
It’s always a good idea to bring along some treats that are easily digestible and water on a trip, especially if it’s going to be a little longer than might be comfortable.
As acclimation and distress about an unknown journey are major factors in a Maine Coon feeling ill in the car, I’d encourage you to start the process of getting your Maine Coon used to the carrier and a vehicle.
Ideally, it would be a good idea to bring something from home that your Maine Coon engages with such as clothing or a bed blanket.
It can provide comfort to your Maine Coon and anchor their headspace.
Facing the carrier forward can be a major factor in calming a Maine Coon with motion sickness. This forces the cat to look in one direction and focuses the mind.
Try putting a blanket or item of clothing over the sides and rear to reduce their view.
Any animal is less prone to vomiting if they haven’t eaten recently. So no food for your Maine Coon several hours before a trip.
Different vehicles have different suspension geometries and settings that provide the motion in the car.
If you have access to another vehicle, try that one and see if the effect persists. Maybe your Maine Coon associates one vehicle with another as a source of distress.
When you are going for a trip in the car, try not to be in a rush. If you are, the vibe might get picked up from your Maine Coon and this translates to anxiety.
Projecting calm and making it look like you have a lot of time sometimes eases the distress.
Take small breaks on the journey if you can, and don’t drive quickly in jerking movements. Speed up and slow down in more continuous movements.
When all is said and done you can always try medication.
Visiting a veterinarian you can get ‘over the counter’ motion sickness tablets, and I think, injections to cure the problem if you plan much travel.
To reiterate though, the solution to a Maine Coon getting motion sickness may be a question of acclimatization and making the trips to interesting places rather than the vets.
The more your Maine Coon might look forward to the result the less distressed it might be on the drive.
Making sure your Maine Coon travels in a safe and comfortable environment is also key.
Sometimes Alita sits on the back seat.
She is more prone to sickness like this, and it happens the more time she spends not traveling.
If I did it more regularly, I believe she would be ill a lot less.
Opening the windows sometimes helps, as does putting on the air conditioning in the car.
So yes, Maine Coons can get motion sickness just like any other animal.
I know because I have a Maine Coon that gets slightly queasy.
Sometimes Alita is sick but if I up the frequency of trips she seems OK.
I think it may be related to anxiousness about what is happening rather than genuine motion sickness.
I’ve traveled over 3 hours in a car before with her, with only 1 break and she was fine.
Alternatively, I’ve had her be ill after 10 minutes.
While there are various tips the best one would be acclimatization.
Getting your Maine Coon used to travel, and to some nice places to visit rather than just a vet then you might find the situation getting better.
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