Q: Is it necessary to get some tranquilizers for my cat if I plan to take him with me on a trip to Montana? He has ridden in my car before and just hides and starts to cry. I plan to get a large pet carrier to keep him in during the trip. I plan on being on the road for about 2 1/2 days with some frequent stops. He is about 6 years old and seems to be perfectly healthy.
Tanya Simms, Seal Beach
A: If you have enough time before your journey, you might try taking your cat for a couple of short-duration car rides in the new carrier to see how well he travels. You should put a favorite blanket or towel in the carrier for him to hide under as well as a toy or two to keep him company. I recommend that you feed him about six to eight hours before the trip and give him a small amount of water at each stop. It might not be necessary to keep a litter box in the carrier unless you are planning long stretches of driving without a stop. Otherwise, give him a box to use at the stops or when you stop for the night.
If he still has a very stressful time in the new carrier, you should have him checked by your veterinarian before getting any sedatives. Make sure you have a copy of his vaccinations, especially rabies, when you travel, and if he needs any medication, get an adequate supply to last for the length of your stay. Good luck.
Q: When I first got my cat, I left food out and he started to gain weight, so I went to feeding him only twice a day. Can I go back to free feeding? It would sure be great for me.
Renee Oughton, Laguna Hills
A: I assume that feeding your cat just twice a day led to a return of his normal weight. If you want to go back to free feeding, you will first need to measure the amount of food that you leave out for him each day.
You might try the free choice feeding for two weeks and then weigh him again. If his weight stays constant at the desired level, then continue to feed this measured amount. If his weight goes up, you must decrease his food by a small amount and then feed this new level daily.
By monitoring his weight and the amount fed, you can control his diet and keep him being a healthy cat. I would recommend that he have a checkup by your veterinarian if he hasn't had one recently and get any necessary advice as to what to feed him to ensure good health.