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On a plane with cats

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi,
I am new here and I guess this quesiton was asked before.
We (2 people) are planning to fly from New York City to Los Angeles and wonder how to take care of our 2 cats on the flight.
Maybe someone has experience with this. We never did this before.
1. Do we have to buy extra tickets for the cats. Let's say one extra for 2 cats or can we keep the cats on our own seat?
2. How about if they have to "go to the bathroom"....Do you put some newspaper into the "cage".
3. Or do the cats have to be flown in the "cargo", animal shipment, etc.? That would be bad I guess and is the least method we would like, if at all.

I hope you don't mind these questions. We just want them and the other passengers to have a good time.

Thank you for any advice and experience you can share.
Ibo
post #2 of 19
I found this may help you out, Check with your airline, you may be able
to bring them in the cabin with you, risky to put animals in the cargo hold,
stress is a main factor good luck, if this is just a vacation you are going on,
could'nt someone watch them or check in on them, they would be better off
being home alone,not much care like a dog or something, my advice would be not to take them

check it out

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible for your cat to ride safely on an airplane if you plan ahead, follow the rules, and are prepared to be a little pushy on your cat's behalf. It's ideal if the cat can ride in the cabin of the airplane with you where he will never leave your care during the course of the trip. However, not all airlines allow animals to travel in the cabin, while others allow no more than two cats in the cabin per flight on a "first come, first served" basis. Obviously, it's important to make arrangements far in advance of your departure date.

The cat's carrier must be able to fit under the seat and the bottom should be lined with an absorbent material in case of accidents. ("Puppy pads" are made of the same material as disposable diapers and are excellent for this purpose.) Be prepared to present a veterinarian-signed health certificate dated no more than ten days before the scheduled flight. If the cat is riding with you, let the person sitting next to you know that you have a cat, just in case they have allergies or phobias.

If your cat cannot travel in the cabin with you, it will ride in the baggage hold. Although this compartment is pressurized and the extremes of temperature are regulated, it's still a good idea to travel during the coolest part of the day if you're travelling in the summer (the early morning or late evening). Choose a non-stop flight and request that your cat be hand-carried to and from the plane. Make sure your USDA-approved shipping crate is marked with contact persons at both the departure and arrival sites and has sturdy handles that won't come off during handling. Make sure all the bolts securing the halves of the carrier are in place and tightened. Your pet should be wearing an identification tag on an elastic collar.

If the trip is longer than six hours, you will want to have dry food and ice cubes in untippable dishes in the carrier. Be sure to talk directly to the freight handling personnel at the airport. Make the staff check and report back. (Most pet fatalities occur on the ground, when animals are left in their crates on the hot tarmac or in stifling cargo holds.)

Be aware that there are regulations regarding the range of temperatures when a pet may be shipped. If the temperature on the ground in your departing, connecting, or arriving city falls outside these limits, you may run into unexpected delays or cancellations. It's also wise to avoid peak travel times around holidays when air traffic is heaviest so your cat can get more personal attention.

A few additional tips:

- It is generally better not to have your cat tranquilized before flying. The combination of high altitude and limited oxygen is a challenge your pet's body is better prepared to meet if he is not sedated.

- Talk to a supervisor when you get to the airport and tell him you have an extremely valuable pet in terms of dollars, even if it's a mixed breed. Otherwise, experts indicate, some baggage handlers couldn't care if you were carrying a rock.

- Personalize your cat to the handlers. Put signs on the crate saying, "Hi! I am a Persian kitten. This is my first trip. Please handle my crate carefully."

- When you board a plane, tell the pilot that you have a cat in the hold worth a great deal of money, even if it isn't. Also, tell them to make sure to turn on the heat and pressurization in the cargo compartment (this is done from the cockpit and someone may have forgotten to give the pilot that information). Cargo compartments can get as hot as 140 degrees, and intense cold can be just as damaging to your cat.

- Put large strips of red or orange fluorescent material all over the crate so you can spot it from a long ways across the airport and your cat won't get mixed up with anything else. Put arrows or the words "Top" and "Live Animal" on top of the crate so your cat doesn't fly upside down.

- Put your home addresses and phone numbers, plus those of where you're going, inside and outside the crate, because many people won't reach into a kennel for fear of being scratched or bitten.

- Watch the ticket clerk attach the destination tags at the airport.

- Make certain your pet is loaded last, especially during extreme weather conditions. This may also ensure that he is taken off the plane first.

- Ask the airline if you can watch your cat being loaded and unloaded at the cargo hold.

Of course, in addition to federal regulations, each airline has its own regulations, so it's absolutely imperitive that you check the individual air carrier's rules before booking a flight for you and your cat. The Air Transport Association has a free booklet, Air Travel for Your Dog or Cat, available by sending a self-addressed, stamped, business-sized envelope to: ATA, 1301 Pennsylvania Blvd. N.W., Suite 1100, Washington, D.C. 20004.
post #3 of 19
Yes each pet needs a ticket (usually it's about $75-100 per pet). Only 2 animals aboard in cabin, so book them early (and one animal per person). They should be in separate soft-sided carriers that will fit UNDER the seat in front of you. I book the end aisle when I fly with a cat.

You cannot let them out of the carriers during flights, nor put them on the seat with you. They must stay on the floor. Most cats don't like the initial take off and landing but are fine and go to sleep in the air. You can put a diaper liner in the bottom if you want. I never had a cat/kitten go in the carrier when flying.

Also, you will have to take the cat out of the carrier and the carrier will be x-rayed, so be sure to hold them tight or have them on a leash in your arms. If your cats are used to noise and a lot of people, you shouldn't have any problem when out of the carrier

Good luck flying with them

As far as I know only time you need the vet papers are when the cat is traveling alone in cargo. I've flown with cats to shows and never had to have vet papers, but it doesn't hurt to have them
post #4 of 19
Having talked to many a cat show exhibitor....they all use this for cats in the cabin:

http://www.sturdiproducts.com/4111/xcart/home.php?cat=1
post #5 of 19
I agree to what was posted above.

You can fly with your cats in cabin but yes some airlines do not allow this. I've had to fly both ways. If you have to put them in the cargo hold, you will have to have a hard carrier, which is opposite to the soft you need for the in cabin ride.

So call the airlines and ask which they allow. And GL.
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your replies!
It has been really helpful.
Hope to hear from other people their experience.
The airlines are the key it seems.
Great. Thank you.
Ibo
PS: We have 2 cats, now about 5 years old. Both rescued when they were small from the neighborhood, one after the other, in 6 weeks interval.
They seems to be sisters, but still not harmonious.
post #7 of 19
Everyone has pretty much covered air travel with a cat. I have just a couple things to add:

1) Bring cleaning wipes - my cat is always fine in the airport and on the plane but in the cab she tends to pee (I think it's because we have traveled in the summer and the cabbies for some reason put the windows down instead of putting the air conditioning on. Something about the heat and being enclosed in a carrier sparks her bladder). If it gets on the seat, you can wipe it up with the cleaning wipes without the cabbie ever knowing (Though I must admit that one time I didn't realize she had peed before it was too late and we were already exiting the cab. I didn't want the cabbie to get mad at me, so I just tried to wipe it up with my hand really quickly and didn't say anything! I'm sure the cabbie was probably wondering later on what the mysterious smell was! I felt so bad.)

2) Bringing a cat in the cabin does cost about $70-100. For the airlines I have flown (American and Delta), you don't get an actual ticket for the cat. You just pay the pet fee at the counter when you check in.

Good luck!
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you!
Everything helps to make the cats and everyone else comfortable!
Ours are rather shy! and have never left the home before.
thanks again.
Ibo
post #9 of 19
My vet suggests shredding a lot of newspaper and filling the bottom of the carrier with it... not only does this absorb accidents, but it gives them a nest to burrow down into for comfort. He also suggests giving water right up to the flight, but withholding food for 12 hours before takeoff.
post #10 of 19
I would not use newspaper (shredded or otherwise) cause of the ink (especially if the cat has white on them. But paper towels would work
post #11 of 19
My cat's all white, and I've used it. It hasn't been a problem.
post #12 of 19
I would not use newspaper, use an old towel, more comfy for the kitty
and then toss it, if he did not make a mess keep it for the ride back
post #13 of 19
I made the mistake of letting rex kittens (that had a lot of white on them) play in a bunch of newspaper shredded up on the floor - it was cute till I picked a few up and saw black spots where there shouldn't be any

The newspaper got picked up and the kittens got a bath
post #14 of 19
I don't bathe my cat. He does a great job staying snow white on his own. I haven't had a problem with newspaper.

I've tried putting cloth for padding in the bottom of the carrier, and he pushes it to the side to nestle in the newspaper. My cat and my vet seem to be in agreement on the ideal bedding.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi and thank you all so much. Our cats,I guess, thank you, too. Whatever makes them comfortable on the flight.
Would you take them out of the "carrier" for a moment (with the leash on) and hold them tightly on your arms? just to comfort them? Maybe 1 minute.
Thanks for your help.
Ibo
post #16 of 19
No not in the plane. I was on one flight that was not crowded. The stewardess allowed me to sit the carrier up on the seat next to me after in the air but told me "do NOT open the carrier" - so you just kinda pet them from the outside and talk a little.

Cat has to be on the floor when taking off or landing
post #17 of 19
Absolutely do NOT take cat out of carrier on the plane. You WILL have to do so to get the cat through security, as the carrier has to go through Xray.

I didn't see this posted already, and this is important: Although you do not buy a "ticket" for your pet to fly, you must absolutely make a reservation and get a confirmation from the airline IN ADVANCE, and reconfirm before you leave for the airport. Then when you are checking in, you pay the fee then. I paid $80 for one cat to fly with me in cabin. It is one pet per person, you cannot fly with two in cabin if you fly alone (I know you have two flying with two cats, so you'll be fine.)

The airlines that do allow pets in cabin generally only allow two per flight, and if you do not pre-reserve your animal's spot, then you may not get to board with them.

I had Penny in the carrier for 10 hours coming from NC to MA with a change flight. She was given no food or water in the morning to prevent the need to "go." We had no accidents as a result, and she was very happy when we got home.

Good luck!
post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by catsareok View Post
If the trip is longer than six hours, you will want to have dry food and ice cubes in untippable dishes in the carrier.
...
Make the staff check and report back.
...
- It is generally better not to have your cat tranquilized before flying. The combination of high altitude and limited oxygen is a challenge your pet's body is better prepared to meet if he is not sedated.
...
- Talk to a supervisor when you get to the airport and tell him you have an extremely valuable pet in terms of dollars, even if it's a mixed breed. Otherwise, experts indicate, some baggage handlers couldn't care if you were carrying a rock.
...
- When you board a plane, tell the pilot that you have a cat in the hold worth a great deal of money, even if it isn't. Also, tell them to make sure to turn on the heat and pressurization in the cargo compartment (this is done from the cockpit and someone may have forgotten to give the pilot that information). Cargo compartments can get as hot as 140 degrees, and intense cold can be just as damaging to your cat.
...
- Make certain your pet is loaded last, especially during extreme weather conditions. This may also ensure that he is taken off the plane first.
...
- Ask the airline if you can watch your cat being loaded and unloaded at the cargo hold.

1. FAA regulations dictate airlines are not allowed to accept tranquilized animals.

2. The "value" of the cat has little bearing on how it is handled. Airlines vary in their history of handling pets, but for the most part they do a respectable job. The pilot will already know there is a live animal on board and knows the requirements. The reality is it is unlikely you will be able to talk with him/her. Badgering the baggage handling people will not endear you to them. Attempting to demand they "report back" certainly won't help.

3. The rules require that you provide bowls that can be filled from the exterior of the cage and have food available, not place it in the cage at the start. It is not a good idea to put food in the cage prior to boarding.

4. You will NOT be allowed in the cargo loading area, this is behind the security barrier where non-airline personnel are not allowed.

5. It is ALWAYS good to watch which tags get attached to the carrier (as recommended in the original post.) (This also applies to all other luggage.)

Good luck with the trip. I've shipped animals around the US and to Europe and the only issues I've ever had were with one airline that put the wrong destination tag on the crate (caught in time!) and a minor issues dealing with US Customs bringing an animal in. Real problems tend to be highly publicised and were a concern at one point but are now extremely rare.
post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hi,
thanks to all.
Just wanted to report on our first experience with flying with cats.
First of all everything went well but here are some details.

1. We flew with Delta. We ordered the tickets and reservations for our cats over the phone. The last thing the Delta phone sales person said was: "It is not a requirement but you may be asked for a health certificate from the vet.." That was not what someone else told us before. So we called again and spoke to someone else and they said that you need that for pets flying in the cargo NOT in the cabin in domestic flights! So be sure you check with several people so you don't get on the wrong track!!
2. Yes we paid at the airport.
3. The flight attendants were very very friendly and caring and offered water etc.
4. We bought the Sherpa bags and put plastic and lots of paper towel below the artificial wool like mat that comes with it. Extra protection. They did not pee.
5. We stopped feeding (food and water) 20-24 hours before.
6. We think the cats did fine and were not stressed so much. They handled it well.
7. The cabin was pretty tight! We had almost no place to put our feet. The cats we had to put below the seat in front of us. Sometimes we put the bags on our laps during flight.
8. We had to take the pets out of the bags at security (the screening of bags, etc. you know where you take of your shoes etc.,..). That was stressful for a few moments because we had no shoes on, had to go back because there was still some metal on us that was beeping. Peopel were waiting behind us, etc....stress for a few moments. One cat got scared and started grabbing my shoulder tightly.....BUT ALL WAS O.K. REALLY.

That was it.
Overall from door to door it was maybe 11 hours from NYC to LA.
Thanks again for all your help and hope this helps the next person.
Ibo
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