Like people, domestic cats can get used to pretty well anything. It’s just about experiencing it and finding that it is not harmful to them. Indeed it can be pleasant. It’s about desensitising a cat who doesn’t like getting into the car. And many cats are uncomfortable with car travel. It’s a bit like socialising cats to dogs. You simply ‘socialise’ your cat to the family car. Perhaps cat breeders should do it as part of their work. Perhaps cat breeders should also socialise their cats to getting into cat carriers. It’s just about training, acclimatisation and desensitisation at the end of the day. Provided of course, as mentioned, the experience is in no way hurtful or harmful because if it is it will reinforce their beliefs that these are harmful places.
I have some personal experience on this topic. Many years ago I took both my cats to Ireland in the car. We drove from London, UK, to a ferry on the coast of Wales and then to Ireland. We then had a long drive to my mother-in-law’s home on the west coast of Ireland, in Kilfenora. We smuggled the cats onto the boat and rented a cabin for the overnight trip. Everything went smoothly.
For the first hour or so in the car both cats were a little edgy, as expected. But on the way home they settled in quite quickly and my female cat spent most of the time on the dashboard looking out the front window while my male cat spent all his time looking out the back window on the shelf that extends from the window to the rear seats. Other than that, they snoozed contentedly. A clear indication that cats get used to car rides.
As mentioned, cats are no different to people in this regard. A lot of people protect themselves from things that they believe are dangerous. Humankind is inherently cautious like cats for that matter. But if we and our cats push the envelope a little bit and find success then we expand our lives. Taking a cat on a car ride like I did is no bad thing as it exhanced their lives.
It would have stimulated them and made them appreciate home life more. In the same vein, you may have seen videos of couples living out of mobile homes and either taking their cat or adopting a cat on the way. You will see videos of this on YouTube. Initially they must have experienced some difficulty with their cat getting used to the mobile home but after quite a short while domestic cats get used to the new routine. They venture out perhaps on a lead and then they join their human companions when they go trekking. And if the trail is very quiet they’ll be off the lead. They just get used to a different way of life, living out of a mobile home travelling thousands of miles. This also tells you that domestic cats get used to car rides.