Advice for Flying with your Cat

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November 11, 2009
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When you fly with your cat, make sure to do a lot of preparation before you head off, so everything goes smoothly.

One month before your anticipated travel departure, you should call your travel agent or airline and reserve a space. Also double-check on your airline’s pet carrier and pet policies, because you don’t want anything to surprise you at the last minute! Test out your cat carrier. Make sure your cat has enough room in it, and be sure that it can breathe easily. Before you take off on a plane, you should do short car trips with your cat in its carrier, so it gets used to the motions.

If necessary, you should go to your vet and get all necessary documentation. Health certificates and vaccination records could be necessary, depending on where you are traveling and what the airline policy is. If you feel it is necessary, pick up some sedatives. Some cats will be fine in this situation, but others will freak out, and you don’t want your cat making everyone’s ride miserable (crying babies are bad enough!) Have the health certificate within easy access, not buried away in a suitcase.

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You should purchase a cat collar, and put on an ID tag. You can buy a leash and harness if you feel that is necessary. For security purposes, you should list your name, phone number, address of home and the phone number and address of the city you are going to. Take a photo of your cat and keep it within reach, in case anything happens.

You should feed your cat about six hours before you go to the airport. You should bring aboard a bottle of water, some dry food (wet food smells really bad and you don’t want to annoy anyone) and liners for the cat carrier. Before you go to the airport, you should put on the cat’s collar, and harness and leash, if necessary, before you put it into its cage.

When you arrive at the airport, check in at the main counter, and then go to security. You can remove your cat from the carrier when you walk through the metal detector. Never put the cat through an X ray machine.

During the flight, try to keep the cat in a relaxed temper. Try to pet it through the openings of its cage. When you land, wait until everyone exits before you get up and go.

If you must travel with your cat as cargo, you should call in advance to see if there are any special requirements for this method. Watch your cat getting loaded and unloaded. Planes are less crowded in the middle of the week, as opposed to weekends, so this is the best time to travel. Don’t make plans to do this during very hot or very cold weather. Let a flight attendant know your cat is traveling as cargo.

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