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Moving - looking for advice

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
First of all I'm new here, so let me introduce first.
I adopted my kitty 2 years ago from a shelter, black and white long haired boy with really adorable black nose
He's 2.5 years old now, a big boy and yet still growing, healthy, furry, fluffy, curious but scaredy.

Anyway, I'm here to ask for some advice.
I'm moving from NYC to Boston next month, and I don't know what would be the least stressful way for him.
Right now, I have 3 options.
I'm gonna try to be really specific to give you as much info as possible, so please excuse me if this gets too long.

Option 1 would be flying to Boston with him, but there are some things I'm really scared about.
First, he's one of THE most scaredy cat.
I'm seriously concerned about the ridiculous airport security procedure where I need to take him out of the carrier and walk through the metal detector holding him.
I'm 99% sure he WILL freak out and try to run and hide.
He's pretty good walking on harness and leash, but I still feel not safe with it.
I don't know if I'm doing something wrong, but tonight I took him out with the harness on and as soon as my neighbor came out to take out the trash he jumped and somehow broke out of the harness and scared the heck out of me.
(He loves going outside, he just doesn't like people at all, besides me, especially scared of male adults)
I don't even want to think about the same thing happening in a huge crowded airport.
Second, he's a big cat, and there's no way he's gonna fit in the in-cabin carrier as the airline policies suggests.
It's just not possible for him to "stand and sit naturally without touching the top" in a 10" high carrier.
He's at least 15" tall or taller standing casually, 19" when he's sitting. Of course, he has the incredible ability to shrink his body and curl into a little fluffy ball as all the cats have
I really don't want him to be in a cargo area as "checked-luggage" (sounds horrible too) but I'm not sure if any airline would let him ride in the cabin with me since he can't stand or sit in that tiny carrier thing.

Option 2 would be driving to Boston from NYC.
I don't drive, and I don't own a car (never needed a car. it's actually a lot more convenient without a car here) so I have to find someone to drive me up there.
It's about 200 miles, and depending on the traffic it might take 4-6 hours to get there by driving.
And if I find someone to drive, then that person (most likely gonna be one of my friends or family) has to drive back to NYC alone and I feel really bad for asking a favor like this.
The advantages of driving over flying is that I don't have to go through the nasty airport security, don't have to buy an extra carrier, and we could avoid crowded area.
But I'm not so sure how he will hold up for 4-6 hours driving. He only rode car twice so far, once on the day I adopted him and drove back home from shelter, and to the vet for checkup.

Option 3 is cancel my lifeplan and stay here forever

Whatever the transportation method would be, all I'm looking for is a safe and least stressful way to get there with my lovely but cowardly cat...
I appreciate any suggestions and advice.
Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 14
I've flown with cats (both ways - inside and cargo) and drove. So here's my thoughts to your questions


Quick and really the least stressful because of time. They usually don't like the take off and landings (with the engines) but once in the air, most will go to sleep. Do NOT sedate your cat when flying. Most cats have bad reactions no matter what a vet says that its "ok".

Cats don't have to stand up in the carriers. The soft-sided kind are best to have under the seat. I've had full grown cats ride inside (under 10 lbs and tall in height) with no problem.

As far as in the airport - its less then a minute for the cat to be out of the carrier when scanned. Put the harness/leash on the cat, hold cat against you and hide his face. Be sure that the carrier is opened so that the minute it comes thru you can let the cat dive back in. ASK for help in having the carrier ready on the other end cause your cat is scared. No one I know of has ever had their cat escape in an airport

Cargo is not bad - its presurrized and quite safe. Just that you might have to pick up the cat in another location (not baggage area) when you arrive. I've had kittens and cats shipped to me by cargo and they are rarely upset or scared when they arrive.


Drove from Maryland to Minnesota with our cat in the car (Spooky was a show cat and very used to traveling either way). When you stop for lunch/supper (more then 1/2 hr) let the cat out of the carrier to stretch. Most will not eat or drink or use the litter pan during that time; but put it out just in case.

Be sure to bring a roll of paper towels and some disposible plastic bags for any accidents. Also an extra towel or two if they mess in the carrier.

Your 3rd option - forget it - moving is really not that bad for everyone. When you get to your new place, put the cat in the bathroom with food/water and litter pan and shut the door till you have everything else moved in.

Also bring along some of the water from your old house so that the cat can slowly get used to the new water. Because I show, we bring bottled water from home that is filtered and its the same water they drink. I've had cats get sick with the change of water for a day or two, so now I make sure we have our own water from home
post #3 of 14
i've never experienced flying, but for the distance you are going (4-6 hours) by the time you get to the airport, check in, go through security, wait for flight, land, pick up bags, get a cab to your house, it will take you just as long (4-6 hours) and there will be a lot more movement of kitty, chances for him to get upset etc. In the car he can just lay down curl into a ball and get into the lull of the trip.

If a friend or family member is willing to do it (maybe offer to pay for gas and lunch) then don't feel bad. I live in Ontario and a 4-6 hour drive is nothing! I do a drive that long a couple times a month, and I move my brother all the time (toronto-ottawa ~ 5 hours) If they don't mind driving it's not a terrible distance to be in the car alone with some good FM radio
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your advice!

I guess I'm just scared and paranoid about moving myself.
I'll contact some of the airlines and research more about their policy, both in cabin and cargo. And it's so nice to hear that flight travel is not bad as, although the thought of taking him out of the carrier scares me still.
I think I'm just panicking and thinking too much of it - and "checked-luggage" just sounded really horrible to me as I never experienced it before

I forgot about how the change of water could make anyone sick (both two and four legged). Thanks for pointing it out as well.
Luckily I give him bottled spring water, so it's not hard to bring and can find it almost anywhere. (although he doesn't really drink water that much ever since I started feeding him raw food)

And for the total time of trip for flying, yes it would be about the same, now I think about it. And definitely require more moving around.

I'm now leaning a bit towards driving, (hoping for no traffic ) but I'm still open for any other suggestions/advice/experience.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me and your advice!!
You made me feel so much better about this
post #5 of 14
What about the train? What's the policy on the Accela or whatever it's called?

Never mind...I just checked, and they allow service animals only.

"Hearing ear cat," anybody?
post #6 of 14
As far as I know animals (except the service kind) cannot ride on trains or buses. And you'd have a very hard time convincing them you have a "service cat"
post #7 of 14
I've never flown with a cat, but once I saw the procedure at the airport--i.e., having to take the cat out of the carrier, etc., I knew I never would!

I vote for driving, despite the problem of having to get a driver. If your driver-friend can't stay with you overnight when you arrive, can you treat him/her to a hotel room to give the driver a rest before the drive back? Boston is a wonderful city for a visit, and your friend might enjoy it. I've driven from NY to Boston several times, and it's not a difficult drive, although I would not want to do a round-trip in one day.

As for driving with a cat, I moved from West Virginia to upstate NY (a 7-hour drive) with a cat who complained the entire way, but I'd strongly advise driving from my experience. First, my trip was much longer than yours will be, but I did not stop (i.e., I bought gas and carry-out food without leaving the car so that I would not disturb my cat). I had to use a restroom once, but I brought the cat in with me in the carrier. I would never leave the cat alone in the car. I was advised by my vet NOT to feed her the morning we left, and she did well in the carrier for the entire trip (I feared taking her out for any reason during the trip, and my vet said that I shouldn't have to).

As you've been advised, I brought water with me for use for the first few days in NY, as cats can be very sensitive to the change in water. She suffered no upsets at all. When we first arrived, she was clearly frightened of the new place, but the fact that I was there helped--I think. I let her acclimate at her own pace, and when I woke during the night, she was snuggled next to me, and she was "normal" from then on. Your cat should adjust fine, but just don't force anything.
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Amtrak was actually the first place I checked.
It's as fast, train station would be crowded but at least security procedure is almost minimal, so I was hoping they allow four-legged passengers, but I'm not good at convincing people

I talked to some airlines about their animal policy, and long story short I decided to get there by car.

Now all I need to do is to find someone who's willing to drive long distance.
I'm thinking to provide gas of course (for round trip), and food, and if that person wants I'm also willing to get a hotel room for him/her to stay and rest one night.
Would that be enough? (I don't drive so I have absolutely no idea how difficult it would be to drive 5 hours...)

Anyway, thank you all so much for your advice and sharing experience with me.
Hopefully this move won't be so stressful for him.
post #9 of 14
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
As far as I know animals (except the service kind) cannot ride on trains or buses. And you'd have a very hard time convincing them you have a "service cat"
"The cat is for my emotional well-being. Without it I have panic attacks."

Etc, etc...
post #10 of 14
Good try on the "excuse" but it won't fly
post #11 of 14
To answer your question about how a driver would feel about the 5-hour drive, it depends on the person. I grew up in NYC and never drove more than 30 min.--until I moved to WV. Then for many years, I regularly drove back to visit my family (7-8 hours), and in the beginning it was awful, but after a few times, it seemed so easy. So you should look for a driver who has done some long-distance driving and doesn't consider it a problem. If you get someone unfamiliar with driving distances (who may volunteer for kindness), the trip is liable to be torture for all of you!
post #12 of 14
Originally Posted by GoldenKitty45 View Post
Good try on the "excuse" but it won't fly
Aw, poo. Was worth a shot.
post #13 of 14
Originally Posted by fluffypaws View Post
I'm thinking to provide gas of course (for round trip), and food, and if that person wants I'm also willing to get a hotel room for him/her to stay and rest one night.
Would that be enough? (I don't drive so I have absolutely no idea how difficult it would be to drive 5 hours...)
that would be enough for me [if i was living in near enough].
post #14 of 14
what you are offering is completely fair~ Like I said, to get anywhere in ontario you have to drive that far all the time!
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