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Moving with cats--better by plane or car?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone, I've got a moving situation that I would love some advice on.

My husband and I live in New Jersey and are moving to Colorado. We have two cats, a male and female, both 5 years old. My DH is flying out next week because his job starts right away, then I'm following at the end of September. He'll fly back for a few days at some point at the end of August, then come back at the end of September and we'll drive to Colorado.

We originally planned to drive out together, and got sedatives from the vet for the trip. Neither of our cats likes the car, and every vet trip they howl in their carriers the whole way.

Would it be better for the cats to stay with me until the end of September and to make the drive with both of us, or for them to fly out with my husband at the end of August? We could hire a catsitter to visit while he was back for a few days handling the move. I'd appreciate any thoughts--thanks!

Meredith
post #2 of 13
I'd go with driving. There are some good threads on the site that will help with moving the cats. Many are not in favor of sedatives.

Imagine...if they do not like driving...flying will be just awful.
post #3 of 13
Factor in the different times between driving to CO or flying a plane to CO. If it takes longer by car, I would do the flying as then they will be in their carriers less time. Be sure to allot the time from when you leave your old house to the airport, through security, plane travel time, landing, etc, etc.

Our friend moved from MI to NV last summer and took her cat on the plane instead of driving. She was nervous though because the sedatives the vet gave her would react one of two ways: Like most cats it would knock him out for the entire trip or the meds would make his adreline higher and scream the entire trip. Apparently this only happens to a few cats.

Lucky for her it knocked her cat out.
post #4 of 13
I don't have a problem with flying animals, but if they don't enjoy it at all and freak out during moves, I think it would be easier on them to move with you, your smells, you being there, your specific care instead of being shipped on a plane with strange people, unfamiliar smells, and most likely many temp changes and several people handling their carriers.

I had a friend give a cat tranquilizers once on a move since the cat doesn't like being in a carrier. The cat ended up with a UTI that wouldn't clear up. Who knows if they are linked or not, but the cat never had issues before the tranquilizers.
post #5 of 13
When we moved from Houston to Kansas City, I flew 1 of the cats and drove the rest. Like yourselves, I moved to a job ahead of my hubby and started taking the cats with me (we had 7 at the time and 5 dogs).

Honestly, flip a coin. The cat I flew was semi-feral and I sedated him. What was good about that was that I got him to his final destination in a few hours. It was more traumatic for him, but took far less time. We drove 3 of the cats in another trip when DH drove up some furniture for me. One of those cats became so stressed by the move that his hidden FIP infection surfaced and we lost him in a week.

The rest of the critters (5 dogs, 3 cats) were driven up during the last trip in a large cargo van that was empty except for a cat tree, kennels for the cats and beds for the dogs. They slept the entire way with no issues. We had to drive from Houston to Austin to KC and we were on the road about 16 hours. We made a number of stops to give the dogs some exercise, and let the cats out of the kennels to give them some free time. We never once opened a car door with the cats outside of their cages.

For the cats we drove, they seemed to settle into the car ride after an hour or 2 and actually got pretty bored by the whole thing. I think we were more stressed about it than they were.
post #6 of 13
I'd go with driving personally. Because of the fact that it's a new place and if they flew they'd be left alone w/ a stranger (cat sitter) soon after being moved I think it's be easier on them (or maybe it'd be easier on me) to know that I was there for them the whole time.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone! DH and I talked it over a bit and it looks like we'll end up driving. That way we won't have to worry about them getting lost or injured on the plane, and can keep an eye on them. I'm looking online for pet-friendly hotels at the mid-point.
post #8 of 13
First of all I would NEVER sedate the cats whether they go by car or plane. Cats usually have bad reactions no matter what the vet says about it.

Flying would be a lot quicker. But you can only have 2 pets on board under the seat with you and your husband (one animal per person).

If your DH is going first and wants to take the cat (one) by plane, and you fly and take one, then who is gonna watch the cats in Colorado when you go back? Or is your DH staying in Colorado?

If the cats don't like car riding its probably better to take them to Colorado by plane.
post #9 of 13
If you change your mind and decide to fly them, call the airlines and find out their policy. I was going to fly 2 of my other cats until the airlines told me that they would have to ride in pressurized cargo. The only exception to that rule were young kittens, and an adult female only if she was with her kittens. Airlines really don't want cats in the passenger compartment due to allergy issues with other passengers. The only reason I flew the 1 cat was because he was semi-feral and I wanted his trip to be a short as possible.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post
If you change your mind and decide to fly them, call the airlines and find out their policy. I was going to fly 2 of my other cats until the airlines told me that they would have to ride in pressurized cargo. The only exception to that rule were young kittens, and an adult female only if she was with her kittens. Airlines really don't want cats in the passenger compartment due to allergy issues with other passengers. The only reason I flew the 1 cat was because he was semi-feral and I wanted his trip to be a short as possible.
GingersMom flew Penny, her Bengal, back in the passenger part of the plane, not cargo.

Why not call the airlines and ask the policy about pets in the passenger area? Or talk to GingersMom who recently did it.
post #11 of 13
I know you've already decided on driving...but I'll add my two cents.

I've heard that it is not a good idea to sedate a cat that's flying on an airplane ..mainly because the sedative, by nature, suppresses their breathing and affects the cats ability to regulate temperature. This combined with the unique pressurization of the cabin can be a big problem (airplanes aren't pressurized to sea level). Also, if you encounter severe turbulence, the cat won't be able to balance itself.
post #12 of 13
I haven't had the experience of doing either, but if I had to choose, I would pick driving. At least you can make periodic stops and put them on a leash and let them walk a bit. On a plane you have the small tight areas and all the air pressure.
post #13 of 13
I agree that driving would be better. It will be a longer trip for them, but you will be there and they'll probably calm down once they realize they aren't going to the vet. I think a lot of cats associate the car with the vets (I know mine do). As for the sedatives, we give 1/4 pill of valium to Monster when its going to be a stressful situation. Of course, she's a special case because she has seizures if she gets too stressed. It doesn't really knock her out...she just gets calm, mildly stoned, gorges on cat food, then sleeps a lot! You may want to ask the vet for something mild that would be safe. I wouldn't recommend knocking them out completely, of course.
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