Top 5 Tips for Flying With Your Cat
In June 2016 my wife, Giovanna – a social marketing account manager here at Beyond Indigo, and I embarked on an international workcation. Finding a place for our stuff was one thing, but finding the best place for our cat Flynn was another.
We ultimately decided on flying our cat from Texas to California to stay with Giovanna’s grandmother. In doing this, we found that flying with a cat can be a stressful experience for both the owner and pet.
Because we are both wired to blog, we have put together this list of our top five tips to consider when flying with your cat.
Tip 1: Get Your Cat Approved to Fly
In order for our cat to be able to fly on an airline we had to get express permission from a veterinarian, by way of a Pet Health Certificate. You must have two copies of this document – one to present at security and one to keep with the cage. The certification is only good for 10-14 days in most cases, so you must time it with your flight itinerary. You may also be required to bring a rabies tag with your pet, so it’s best to plan ahead for that, too.
The Pet Health Certificate is required by airlines to ensure that the cat is healthy and in the right state to fly, lest anything go wrong on in place where little to no help is available. The vet can also prescribe various drugs that will help the cat cope with the stress of traveling, if they’re needed.
Tip 2: Get an Approved Travel Case
Just as there are explicit parameters about what size of baggage one can carry onto an airplane, there are also size requirements about how large an animal case can be. We had to find the perfect fit for our kitty.
We decided on a soft mesh duffle bag like carrier for Flynn that could comfortably fit under a typical coach airline seat. These bags can be found at most large pet stores, and are often labeled that they will fit on an airplane.
Mesh carriers are usually a requirement for pets if they are staying in the cabin with you. A harder case is required for if your pet is in the cargo area. Most flights will provide you with a hard carrier if you pet needs to go in the cargo hold, but make sure this is the case.
Most airlines will only let one or two pets into the cabin with their owners, at most, and you must reserve a spot for your pet in advance. After booking your own ticket, you’ll need to call the airline directly to reserve your pet’s space on the flight.
Tip 3: Request a Security Room
One of our biggest fears about traveling with our pet was what might happen once we get into the airport. Discussions of exactly what might happen once we are in line for the security checkpoint where often fraught with worry.
The thought of our kitty jumping from our arms as the bag was going through the x-ray is the stuff of nightmares for many. Fortunately, when the time came to go through security they offered us a private room where we could sooth Flynn while they took the case to be scanned by security. This gave us peace of mind knowing that our fluffy man was with us in a peaceful room with no chance of running away in fright.
Make sure your pet’s microchip is up-to-date and that ID tags are current and adorned.
Tip 4: When Flying With Your Cat, Sooth Them With Familiarity
Something that helped greatly during the flight was proving Flynn with familiar items and soothing gestures. We made sure to put one of our shirts into his carrier to provide him with a familiar scent. We also placed one of his favorite toys into his carrier for the same reason. Also, whenever he would mew Giovanna would talk to him with soothing words and caress him by pushing on the mesh.
Tip 5: Let Them Acclimate At Their Own Pace
It was very important for our cat to adjust to the new location. Flynn had been living in our apartment for nearly four years and hadn’t moved around much, so this was a whole new ball game. We opened his carrier in one part of the house with the door closed, and stayed him each step of the way, opening more doors as he scratched to be let into new areas of the home. We did this because we did not want him to be overwhelmed by his new location. He adjusted at his own pace, and by the end of the first day was calmly lifting his tail and presenting his belly to be scratched showing his comfort.
As daunting as the idea may be, flying with your cat isn’t as stressful as it may sound. While it does take some pre-planning and patience, it can often be the best solution for getting your kitty where he needs to go.
If your veterinary practice is interested in blogging as a compliment to their social marketing and SEO endeavors, Beyond Indigo Pets offers DIY and professional veterinary blogging services. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation.