Cats love their space. They fancy following a set routine every day- scenting the same smell, seeing the same people, sleeping in the same bed; they are creatures of habit. Hence, an airport full of new people and strange smells might take a toll on the most docile and relaxed of cats.
Getting out on a vacation could be fun. However, the act of traveling? Not exactly so. Now, you’ve got to bring your four-footed bestie into the mix—more stress indeed.
You might be anxious as regards flying with your cat. Will he feel scared? What documentation would you need? Will he stay in the cabin with you? What kind of carrier should I bring along? All of these questions – and many more—are set to be discussed in this article.
Let’s take a ride!
Cabin vs Cargo
When flying a cat, you are faced with two options: Bring your cat carrier—with your cat in it—to the cabin with you, or put him in a pressurized, temperature-controlled compartment, known as a cargo.
Either way, it’s safe to say that your cat would love to fly with you in the same cabin. However, the airline’s policy has the final say on whether this would be possible, or not. For some airlines, pets weighing 20 pounds are fit to stay in the cabin (a quite favorable policy for cat owners, as opposed to dog owners).
Also, airlines have a maximum number of pets that can be allowed to fly in the cabin. This is why it is important you book your flight early. If possible, inform your airline about your choice to bring along your pet.
If you’ve got no choice but to allow your pet to fly in the cargo, try to travel in the same flight as your cat. And, as much as possible, try to avoid plane transfers.
You should also consider the cost of bringing your cat along with you on the plane. Even though you cannot buy an extra seat for your pet, you need to still make reservations for it.
Get the right kind of carrier
While making your airline research, you should take note of the exact dimensions under the airline seat. Since your cat carrier would be placed here throughout the entire flight—as some airlines wouldn’t allow you to bring it out—it needs to be a comfortable one for your pet. Getting a backpack with a window or bubble makes your pet feel a lot more comfortable and safe.
First, you need to take your cat to your vet for a checkup. Your vet would then confirm if your cat is healthy enough to fly with you. Also, a set of vaccination papers might be required by your airline—it is safe to call in to confirm the exact documents that would be needed, so as to plan ahead of time.
Flight day tips
It’s always safe to arrive early with your cat. Check at the counter if your cat will be flying in the cargo- or in the cabin with you. In the case of the former, confirm where the cargo would be dropped, considering that the cargo location might be different from the airport terminal.
Also, try not to feed your cat some hours before your trip so as to prevent motion sickness. Again, you should pack all the needed supplies the day before your flight day—including a photo of your cat and the carrier, in case you two get separated.
If possible, bring along a light blanket that you can drape over the carrier, so as to prevent unnecessary exposure of your cat to unfamiliar noises and sights.
Flying with your cat might be stressful. However, it could be fun if you put in place the necessary preparations and precautions. Upon getting to your destination, your cat might hide for some time. Be patient, and give him space to explore the new surroundings.