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Flying cross-country with cat

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I'm fairly new to this site, so apologies if this subject's been covered before.

This fall I'm starting grad school in California (I currently live in Michigan), so I'll be moving sometime this summer. Since I've been out of college over a decade, this will be a "permanent" move - i.e., no parents' house to leave stuff at. I'll be taking all my worldly goods along - and, of course, my cat.

So far it looks like the best thing to do is to hire movers for my stuff and transport myself and my cat via airplane. So I'm looking for advice re: flying with a cat. I've never done it before.

My cat can barely stand the 5 min. drive to the vet. There's always a stool sample by the time we get there! What products/drugs have people tried to calm cats like mine, and how well do they work?

Also, if you fly with a cat, I know you can check them (which I will not do... last thing I need is for her to get lost let alone terrified to death!) or stow them under the seat. But what about litter? I assume all you can do is leave them sitting in it until the plane lands? Doesn't the smell become an issue for other passengers?

These are questions I haven't found answers to yet. We'll be seeing the vet of course before then, but I thought I'd collect as many opinions as I can from others who may have experience in these areas.

post #2 of 3
Hey there--
Mister Oliver and I flew to FL from albany, NY--about a 3 hour flight--so not quite as long as yours is going to be, but here's what I did, and worked pretty well for us:
1) Absolutely positively DO NOT check the kitty--cats and dogs can die under there--it gets very cold under there--and even if no harm comes to kitty physically, who knows what it does to them mentally

2) Make sure you let the airline know WAY ahead of time--when you make your reservations--that you will be flying with a cat. I flew USAir--it cost $100 extra each way--which I had to pay upon checking in at the desk--and they have a policy where they can only have so many animals on board--so you need to get to the airport extra early to make sure you and kitty don't get "bumped". Many airlines nowadays (Southwest, I know for sure) aren't letting anyone check OR carry on animals (fallout from 9-11) so it wouldn't hurt to stary researching flights and airline policies NOW--also make sure the carrier you get is approved by the airline--I have a Samsonite softside carrier that I use for plane trips.

3) Go to the vet at least a week before the flight to get equipped with sedation meds. They'll give you full instructions on how to give them, but the procedure I followed was: Give the kitty 1/2 the pill 30 mins before you get to the airport--if by the time you get there kitty is still perky, give em some more. My Oliver is a big boy, so when all was said and done he ended up getting a pill and a half each way. You also need to take up food and water about 12 hours before the flight to make sure you don't get any little "gifts" in the carrier. I also lined my carrier with a disposable liner you can get at petsmart (usually in the dog section, as are the softsided carriers). Once they're thoroughly medicated, they should seem groggy and a little "drunk"--but they won't be upset or screaming their fool heads off.
Last but not least, make sure you have kitty wear their collar w/ a tag on it the day of flight, even if they don't normally. Also bring a small leash with you that you can attach to kitty's collar. When you go through security you'll have to take kitty out of the carrier, put the carrier through the conveyor belt and carry kitty through the metal detector with you--that was Oliver's least favorite part--but if you try to act un-stressed, and like it's just another normal day, they'll calm down. If you get frantic, they will too.

congrats on grad school and good luck with the move! If you have any other questions feel free to PM me.
post #3 of 3
I'm considering working abroad and to be with someone in particular...

And I'm weighing the options of taking the "kids" with me. Mainly because there are not many here who can actually spend the level of care they need. They are rather particular on who takes care of them.

I have seen older cats deal with this rather well as they've been travelling all their lives, but what about a 16 hour flight from North America to Japan?
Can a cat be sedated for that long?

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