It is uncertain if motion sickness is common in cats, because anxiety associated with travel causes similar symptoms. The symptoms are generally mild and cease following travel, so treatment is not indicated. Cats who must travel frequently may benefit from conditioning strategies and the use of anti-nausea and/or anti-anxiety medications.
As stress and anxiety commonly occur along with motion sickness, symptoms like vocalizing, restlessness, and defecation may also occur.
The cause of motion sickness is the effect of movement on the relevant parts of the central nervous system. The experience of motion sickness may cause a cat to develop anxiety in association with being placed into a car, so symptoms may occur even prior to being in motion.
Cats that have difficulty traveling may benefit from a veterinary visit and medication. Recurring bouts of vomiting during travel suggest a diagnosis of motion sickness, but may also indicate the affected cat is reacting to the stress of travel rather than the trigger of motion. Cats presenting with apparent motion sickness generally undergo routine diagnostic work up including physical examination and blood work to rule out any other underlying cause of vomiting.
Some trial and error may be necessary to determine what works best for an individual cat. Options include:
Symptoms of motion sickness or travel-related sickness will cease once the pet is no longer traveling.
This condition cannot be spread to other pets or people. Motion sickness can be prevented by avoiding travel.
Unlike dogs, it is unknown if motion sickness is something cats can experience. More likely, cats experience anxiety and stress during travel and these elicit similar symptoms.