Cats really are part of the family. This often means bringing them along whenever going out of town. Bringing your cat along on an airplane is not without its obstacles. However, just a bit of planning can ensure that you both enjoy your trip.
6 Tips for flying with a cat
Use the Right Carrier
You will obviously need a carrier aka crate to transport your cat. If you plan to bring your cat along with you in the cabin, then make sure you contact your specific airline to ask about the carrier requirements. Most require that it be spacious enough for your cat to stand up comfortably. However, it can’t be too big to fit beneath the seats.
It’s not a good idea to wait until the last minute to pick up a carrier either. You’ll want to give your cat enough time to get acclimated to it. Buy it a few weeks before the trip and leave it somewhere where your cat will use it. Also, pick up a few pet pads to place in the bottom to keep things tidy should an accident or two happen. Make sure to put your contact information on the outside of it should a worse case scenario arises and you get separated from your cat.
Cargo or Cabin
When booking your trip, you’ll obviously need to determine if your cat will ride in the cabin or cargo bay. Many airlines will permit you to carry your cat with you in the cabin if the carrier can fit beneath the seat. This will be considered as your carry-on though, so you’ll have to check all of your other luggage.
The other option is to have your cat ride in the cargo bay. It’s a generally safe environment. You’ll definitely need to check with the airline if going this route since there are restrictions involved such as the type of cat carrier you can use.
Be aware that even if airlines allow cats along, there may be certain restrictions. For examples, kittens that are too young or too small may be disallowed. Some breeds like Persians and Burmese have a higher risk of suffering respiratory problems at such high altitudes also.
Hydration is Vital
It’s important to keep your cat well-hydrated throughout the trip. Make sure to provide them with plenty of water before boarding the plane. They should also have water available to drink throughout the trip. Instead of a typical water bowl, you could attach a dripper bottle to the side of the carrier.
Flying during the summer makes things even more vital. The plane could be sitting on the tarmac for a while before it actually takes off. This will increase the temperature your cat is exposed to. Try to book tickets during a time when temperatures won’t be so high if you’re traveling during the summer months.
Arrive to the Airport Early
Even when not traveling with a feline companion, it’s a good idea to arrive to the airport early. You’ll definitely want to do so when you bring your cat alone. If they’ll be flying in the cabin, you’ll be all set whenever you check in at the counter. You may have to take your cat to another drop off point if they’ll be traveling as cargo though.
Be Prepared for Security Screening
Security screening in airports has only increased in recent years. This can potentially be the most troublesome point of the trip. Your cat will need to be removed from its comfy environment so that it can travel through machines. This noisy, unfamiliar environment can easily cause your cat to become quite anxious.
Trying to hold an anxious cat can be quite an ordeal. You don’t want to fall victim to the claws. One option is to wrap your cat in a sturdy towel or blanket to not only provide a bit of warmth and security, but to protect yourself also.
Visit the Vet
Make sure that you take a trip to the vet before your trip to ensure there are no health issues preventing your cat from flying. Your cats vaccination shots may have to be up-to-date also. You may need to be issued a certificate that states this information. Make sure you check into the time-frame in which you have to obtain this certificate. It could be anywhere from up to 30 days before the trip or as little as just a couple of days before it.
These are just a few tips on air travel with your cat. It’s never a good idea to try to bring them along at the last minute. Instead, give yourself plenty of time to understand all of the requirements involved and get everything necessary to make the trip successful.