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Flying with a Cat

FrazFraz Registered User regular
edited June 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi folks, I recently moved to the Bay Area from Miami, FL.

I left my cat with my Mom and I want to fly her over.

I have a couple of questions:

She's not a very big cat, probably less than 10 lbs, and I'm wondering if would be better to fly her in the cabin. I've see what the max size of a carry-on kennel can be (23" long x 13" wide x 9" high on AA) but I'm worried she won't be able to move around in one of those soft kennels that are probably meant for tiny dogs.

Or should I check her? It is a five hour flight, but I'm worried it will be worse that flying her in the cabin.

Anyway, any advice from people who have been through this would be appreciated.

Fraz on

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    VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    See what your airlines offer. Not all allow you to check pets and not all allow you to carry on.

    VisionOfClarity on
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    capnricocapnrico Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I flew cross country with two cats (on JetBlue fyi), and one of them is pretty fat. We put them in small hard plastic carriers that fit under the seat. They weren't happy about it, but they were fine. My sister has chihuahuas and she's put them under the seat in a soft carrier as well.

    capnrico on
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    jclastjclast Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I flew my 2 from San Jose to Colorado Springs on United around 3 years ago. They both cost $80 (I think) and had to fit under the seat in front of me and my wife.

    What you should do:
    Go to the vet who will prescribe you some tranquilizers. S/he should give you two dose so that you can try it out at home (some cats have an opposite reaction and get really hyper on tranqs). If they react well you'll drug them the day of the flight, put them in a carrier (your airline will tell you the maximum dimensions for a carrier - you should then be able to buy one from PetSmart, PetCo, etc.), and go to the airport. You'll have to take the cat out of teh carrier and carry it through security while the carrier goes through the metal detector.

    After that just wait at the gate and get on the plane. Your test dose will also show you how long it will take for the tranq to wear off of your cat.

    jclast on
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    VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I know I looked into flying with my cat a couple months ago and it would have been $60 each way.

    VisionOfClarity on
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    capnricocapnrico Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I flew cross country with two cats (on JetBlue fyi), and one of them is pretty fat. We put them in small hard plastic carriers that fit under the seat. They weren't happy about it, but they were fine. My sister has chihuahuas and she's put them under the seat in a soft carrier as well.

    capnrico on
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    Aurora BorealisAurora Borealis runs and runs and runs away BrooklynRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I second jclast- I did the same thing except I bought valerian root at my local pet health-food store instead of tranquilizers. Did the same thing though. She got all high and mellow and slept the entire 6 hour flight. And this was jetblue, so she was in a carrier under the seat. My cat was around 12 pounds. The carrier was a wee bit small, but they squish good, cats do.

    Aurora Borealis on
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    exoplasmexoplasm Gainfully Employed Near Blizzard HQRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I took my cat in a soft carrier under the seat twice. The first time I used sedatives (crushed pills in food). Cat was crying the whole flight. Poor thing.

    Second time I didn't bother with sedatives and the cat was quiet after about 1/4 into the flight time. At some point after take off the person next to me said "Do you hear a cat?" :lol:

    By far the worst part is going to be the airport security. You HAVE to take your cat out of the carrier to go through the checkpoint. My cat is afraid of EVERYTHING and EVERYONE so she clung onto me for dear life, almost couldn't get her back in the carrier. Don't lose your cat!

    exoplasm on
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    Susan DelgadoSusan Delgado Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    About tranquilizing a pet going on an airplane... A) Check with your vet. B) Check with your airline.

    Tranquilizers and sedatives can have adverse or unpredictable effects on animals at high altitude. Also, some airlines require that you provide written consent from the Vet for the animal to be tranquilized. The airlines will not administer medication to your animal. Make sure your pet has been fed, watered, exercised, and has had a chance to relieve itself prior to your flight.

    Susan Delgado on
    Go then, there are other worlds than these.
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    Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    exoplasm wrote: »
    Don't lose your cat!
    Ha, I was flying back from Japan once, and I woke up to see an orange tabby slinking down the aisle. I thought to myself, 'ah, how cute, it must belong to the airplane crew.' Then my mind cleared a bit and I realized that airplane crew wouldn't have a cat... Then I realized it must've escaped from somewhere, and boy wouldn't it be awful if it started freaking out and jammed itself into a hissing clawing ball in some dark corner.

    I called out to it, and it turned and ran right to me, obviously thinking, 'oh joy! someone recognizes me! must be owner!' It wasn't too happy when I picked it up and it realized it _didn't_ know me, and then the stewardess ran up and started telling me I couldn't take my cat out during the flight. I just held on tight and called out, 'Is anyone missing a cat?'

    The woman it belonged had decided the cat should get a chance to come out of its carrier and stretch, and predictably, it'd bolted.

    Gabriel_Pitt on
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    AmytheLibrarianAmytheLibrarian Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I flew with my cat across Canada from Ontario to BC last year over Christmas. That was during the crazy country-wide snowstorm/holiday rush debacle that had the airlines pretty much crippled for a week or two.

    Because of the Christmas season pets weren't allowed to be checked - aircraft need the room for people's extra luggage - so I brought her as carry-on. Flying Westjet, it cost $50 to bring her into the cabin.

    The soft carrier my partner and I had originally bought for the trip turned out to be too big to fit under the seat so we downgraded to a slightly smaller one. This turned out to be a good thing as the cat seemed to be much more comfortable in a little space where she could curl up and feel safe. During the flight I also draped my jacket over the carrier so it was dark and she couldn't see much. That also seemed to keep her calm.

    We also bought some herbal cat relaxant from a pet store before we left. A couple of drops on her favourite treat every so often kept her nice and relaxed. Not drugged up or sleepy, just relaxed. I can't remember the specific brand, but if you have a good pet store in your neighbourhood it's worth asking someone who works there about it.

    Anyhow, over a trip that turned from a 5-hour flight into a 25-hour crazy-time where we took off or landed 10 times, the cat was fine. No bathroom accidents or anything, though she did hit the litter box asap once we got to where we were going.

    AmytheLibrarian on
    Librarians are the shhh!
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    AmytheLibrarianAmytheLibrarian Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    exoplasm wrote: »
    By far the worst part is going to be the airport security. You HAVE to take your cat out of the carrier to go through the checkpoint. My cat is afraid of EVERYTHING and EVERYONE so she clung onto me for dear life, almost couldn't get her back in the carrier. Don't lose your cat!

    Also this. I actually had our cat in a harness (which we had taken the time to get her used to beforehand) just for going through security. A leash was kept handy to clip onto the harness too. Cat was petrified and just clung onto me while I made sure to keep some fingers wound through the harness. She was glad to get back into her carrier after!

    The security guard who wanded me told me a horror story about a woman getting shredded by her cat - blood and skin everywhere. Sounded pretty gruesome.

    AmytheLibrarian on
    Librarians are the shhh!
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Man, I'm incredibly allergic to cats. Do they let other people know that there will be a cat on board when they do that?

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
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    Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    It could be worse. When my aunt flew with her belgian shepherd (a search and rescue dog) he flew with her in the cabin. A couple times someone in the seat next to the dog complained about having allergies, so they'd just put my aunt in 1st class. One time the flight was full, and the allergy guy threw such a fit that they kicked him off the flight, and the standby passenger who took his place was a: very grateful about being able to get on that flight after all, and b: very amused that her seatmate was a large, black dog.

    Gabriel_Pitt on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Man, what shitty service from the airline. Because the guy expects to not break out in a rash or hyperventilate when using their service, they throw him off the flight?

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
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    urahonkyurahonky Resident FF7R hater Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Man, what shitty service from the airline. Because the guy expects to not break out in a rash or hyperventilate when using their service, they throw him off the flight?

    Gabriel_Pitt said threw a fit, not "politely ask to be moved away from the dog". There's a huge difference. :P

    urahonky on
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    Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Search and rescue dog > you.

    Gabriel_Pitt on
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    DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Search and rescue dog > you.

    If it was "threw a fit" rather than "insisted that he really couldn't sit next to a dog" then alright. I also respect the search and rescue dog. Let's not forget that airlines can be huge douche bags, though, and that a person has a reasonable expectation to not have to cuddle up with an animal that makes them stop breathing.

    I mean, didn't airlines start banning peanuts due to food allergy concerns about "peanut dust" circulating?

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
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    mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Never sedate your cat if you are flying em. they can overheat really easily and you know, die.

    mts on
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    jclastjclast Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    mts wrote: »
    Never sedate your cat if you are flying em. they can overheat really easily and you know, die.

    Where did you hear that? My vet recommended the exact opposite.

    jclast on
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    Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Search and rescue dog > you.

    If it was "threw a fit" rather than "insisted that he really couldn't sit next to a dog" then alright. I also respect the search and rescue dog. Let's not forget that airlines can be huge douche bags, though, and that a person has a reasonable expectation to not have to cuddle up with an animal that makes them stop breathing.

    I mean, didn't airlines start banning peanuts due to food allergy concerns about "peanut dust" circulating?
    The filtration systems on modern airplanes do an excellent job of scrubbing what gets recirculated clean. So really, if there's a cat, and someone allergic to cats, put them on opposite ends of the plane and there should be no issue at all.

    As for the dude getting kicked off the flight, while I can sympathize that it would be a little upsetting to be told something your allergic to is on the plane and there's nothing you can do about it, as retold to me, his penultimate line was something like, 'That dog will not be on the same plane as me.'

    The whole peanut thing was essentially there is the slimmest possibility that at some point, some person with the exceedingly rare allergy that makes them deathly allergic to even a single particle of peanut dust might ride, and it costs them nothing to serve pretzels instead.

    Gabriel_Pitt on
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    mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    jclast wrote: »
    Where did you hear that? My vet recommended the exact opposite.
    actually my vet said that i think. i was in a hurry but it has to do with a dangerous drop in heart rate from the sedatives and reduced air etc from being in a confined place with poor air circ to begin with

    mts on
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