Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Taking a Cat on a Plane

Jubilee is a high-strung Siamese mix,
 but flying with her turned out to be fairly simple.
Flying With Jubilee
I worried about flying across the country with my high-strung Siamese cat, but the whole trip turned out to be quite uneventful. My friend Wanda drove me to the airport. She also happens to be my vet, and gave Jubilee a sedative just before we left. Jubilee meowed at half her normal volume during the two-hour drive to St. Louis, but by the time we got inside the airport, she was totally zonked. She slept on the plane all the way to Seattle, and began to arouse only after we left the airport.

Security at the airport presented a bit of a challenge. I was asked to take off the harness I had put on her to make sure I could restrain her when I had to take her out of the carrier. Duh. Of course they had to x-ray the harness too! Fortunately, my sedated cat lay motionless in my arms. Then I was told to put the cat back in the carrier, and the security woman wiped down my hands to test if I had anything on them, which also would be on the cat.

I had just read about a 50-something guy who stripped naked when security asked to pat him down. He fought an indecent exposure charge and won, when it was ruled that his action was supported under the First Amendment as free speech. Fine, it's free speech. But give security a break. If there are people in the world who will use children as bombs, then why not a cat? I could tell the kitty was actually a bright spot in the lady's day.

We left the cat at my daughter's house while we moved into our new place. My daughter has a black cat, Eloise, the sweetest cat in the world. When the cats met, Jubilee hissed, Eloise jumped back and ran out of the utility room, where her food and litter are. Jubilee took over Eloise's room for the duration of her visit, and poor Eloise had to eat on the porch.

Oh, yes. Siamese. You either have to love them or hate them.

Jubilee has settled in fairly quickly at her new home. She slept the first night on a couch which probably still smelled of her old home, then joined me on my bed the next night, as she always has before. I'm vigilant about knowing where she is when a door is opened, but she seems pretty content.

  • Work with your vet to try sedation medication in advance, to get the right kind and the right dose.
  • Make sure you have a carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you. Not all that say they do, really do! If you can spring for a little extra money, airlines sell carriers that are specially designed for that purpose.  
  • Let your cat sleep and play in the carrier some considerable time before the flight. Sprinkle catnip inside the carrier to make it appealing. The carrier will become a safe haven. 
  • The charge for carrying a cat varies with airlines, so shop around.
  • When you call the airline to reserve a space for kitty, ask about security issues, exactly what to do and what will happen, so you won't be caught off guard like I was.