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Cats on an Airplane...

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I am traveling for the 4th of July to visit family and I can't find ANYONE to cat sit for me. I have made plans to take my kitten with me on the flight--
the only problem being that she HATES HATES HATES HAAAATESSSSSSS being in her carrier.
On 15 minute car rides to and from the vet she manages to claw at the cage until her nails break and bleed. If she manages this sort of trouble in 15 minutes, I'm scared as to what she can manage in 2 hours!
Has anyone tried traveling with an "unhappy" kitten in a carrier??

My sister has a dog and her vet actually reccommended giving him some benadryll to make him sleep while she tries to trim his nails. She has recommended that I call my vet to see if he has the same recommendation...
Is there anything other than drugging my cat with benadyll!??!!?

PS: I don't know if this has ever been addressed--but I did a search and couldn't find anything. If someone knows the link for the previous posts, please send it my way!
post #2 of 13
You could check with your vet for a mild sedative IF your kitty hates the carrier and you think they will be very stressed...Also you could spray some Feliway in the carrier.
post #3 of 13
You shouldn't sedate a cat for air travel unless the sedative is prescribed by a vet. And most veterinarians now advise against sedation, because a lot of the animal deaths in air travel are caused by sedation. Sedatives suppress the cat's respiration (which you don't want, given the altitude) and ability to adjust to temperature changes.

It's also an issue for animals with preexisting health conditions.

My vet recommends filling the bottom of the carrier with a lot of shredded newspaper so the cat can burrow down into it and feel more secure... it's also helpful if the cat goes to the bathroom. He says that most cats will pretty quickly settle down and go to sleep... though this isn't the case with my cat. He meows for eight straight hours.

Also, don't feed the cat for 12 hours before the plane trip; but give ample water.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Gaah! I'm so nervous about traveling with my cat!! I'm just so worried that she won't calm down. She just goes PSYCHO in her carrier. I even tried just putting her in there and going for car rides to get her to adjust--but she's just not having it. I'm so worried.
post #5 of 13
First of all I'm against any kind of medication for cats when travelling - especially on a plane! They can have bad reactions. And second, you need a smaller under the seat carrier - the standard hard side carriers will not fit under the seat.

I used the soft-sided kind for air travel under the seat. You can tie up the zippers so that the cat cannot get them open. Most times the worse part is take off and landing cause of the pressure/noise.

Hopefully it won't be a booked solid flight with a crying cat. Not much you can do about it - like have a baby on board that's crying the entire trip - annoying but nothing much you can do about it
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
I went out and bought a soft carrier just last night!

I was a little worried, though, that her nails would scratch right through the "mesh windows". I put her in the carrier last night just to see her reaction...and lo-and-behold- she found her way out. Fortunately, she didn't scratch open the window--I just didn't tie the zippers shut.
I am looking into that calming spray...I just hate to spend 40 dollars on a spray that doesn't work. And, yes, the spray was actually 40 dollars! Is it worth it???
post #7 of 13
Are you talking about Feliway spray? Do you have a petsmart near you? They honor their web prices at all their stores. You can save a bundle by just printing out the product information (what I do is put the items into my "cart" online, and then print that page) and taking it with you to the store.

I saved $30 on refills for my Feliway diffusers.
post #8 of 13
Also put some Soft paws on her. We have a soft sided Sherpa carrier, which the cats love. However, Bunakins can rip the mesh. The Soft Paws prevent her from getting hold of it.

The feliway is worth it. Try some online stores to get a better deal. You should be able to find it for $20.
post #9 of 13
I travelled with my cat Sparkle Boo when I was taking her to be re-homed in Texas. She had only had short car trips and honestly wasn't an anxious kitty in the carrier for the most part.
She was very well behaved. The other people on the plane didn't even know she was there.
I don't know if you are aware, but when you go through security, you will have to remove your cat from the carrier and walk her through the metal detector. The carrier will go through the X-Ray. You may want to put a harness on your cat with a leash to make sure she doesn't squirm away and get lost. I was unaware as to the exact procedure until I got to the security gate. eek!
Fortunately, Sparkle, who hates to be held, was very good and didn't try to get away.
I also looked into sedation and found that noone recommends it. There is an herbal calming liquid that I found, but it was actually unneccessary. I can't remember the name of it.
Good luck! You might be surprised at how calm she is. It's so dark on the plane it's like they are in a little cave and she might calm down and go to sleep for you.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Wow, that's really good to know about the harness. I'm going to have to go out and get her one. Since she's an indoor cat, I've never thought to buy one--but if I'll have to carry her through the metal detector--She'll definitely need a harness. I don't want her running off and through the airport!!!!!
Thanks for the really great advice!
I'm looking online, now, for a calming spray...
post #11 of 13
Can you not use a pet sitter that will come to your house? Maybe board her with a vet you can trust?
One of my best friend's gave their cat a sedative for travel and the cat ended up having some urinary issues very shortly afterwards. The vet said it was unrelated, but it was just too coincidental for me not to think that had anything to do with it.
I think a soft sided carrier would be good; you will need to clip her nails , soft paws would also be good. Maybe you can get her used to the crate in small amounts before your trip to help her with the anxiety? Leave it open, put treats in there, and cat nip toys? Encourage exploring and put a soft bed in there?
post #12 of 13
Your situation is exactly what I went through when I took Snickers on an airplane a few months ago! Snickers hates her carrier too. The good news is that the ordeal went way more smoothly than I thought it would. You're definitely taking the right steps so far. The soft carrier is a must in order for it to fit under the seat in the plane. Since you said your cat tends to try to claw through the carrier, you're definitely going to want to clip her nails. I know some Petsmarts will take walk-ins and do a nail trimming for like $8.

As for the Feliway and other herbal type liquids, they did not seem to have any effect when I tried them. Snickers still was distressed and meowed constantly on the way to the airport.

The part of the trip that I was dreading was the walk through security. Wear long sleeves so that if your cat struggles or uses her nails, you'll be protected and won't drop her. I learned this the hard way because despite Snickers clawing me while I was holding her, I held on tight and ended up with scratches all up and down my arms! To my surprise, however, she was so scared that all she wanted was to get BACK in the CARRIER! Because it's such a stressful sitation, your cat may end up viewing the carrier as a place of safety throughout the trip. The instant the carrier came through the x-ray machine, Snickers scrambled back in, and the rest of the flight was easy. Once settled in the airport, Snickers seemed distracted by watching people passing by. And then on the plane, she just went to sleep.

Other tips:
Bring a change of clothes with you in your carry-on. The second time I took Snickers on a plane trip, she was so nervous that she peed on me in the cab on the way to the airport. So I recommend being prepared. Clean-up bath wipes are also probably a good idea.

Bring a bit of hard food. It's probably best not to feed her too close to departing for the airport because you don't want her to have to go to the bathroom. But midway through the trip, I found that Snickers seemed comforted to munch on a few pellets of food.

Hope this helps! Good luck!
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much for your awesome replies!
I'm working with the Feliway Spray and she doesn't seem to take to it. But I'm feeding her right up close to the carrier and she's no longer afraid to sniff around in it. SLOOOOOOW baby steps seem to be key here. Tonight I'm going to take her for a ride in the carrier and see how she copes. I tried clipping her nails last night and you would have thought I was killing her just by holding her still. She put up such a fuss I wasn't able to trim a single nail. I even waited until she was dozing off to sleep! Now it seems whenever she sees the red handled cat clippers she's alert and ready!!!! I might have to look into the 8 dollar clipping at the salon!
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