Traveling With A Cat

Old Jun 7, 22, 9:09 pm
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Traveling With A Cat

I am slowly making progress on my full time move to Paris which will include bringing my 12 year old kitty. I've already worked through the paperwork requirements with my vet and my concern now is actually traveling with him. He's 12 years old and always been an indoor kitty in a quiet environment. Within the past few weeks he has made 3 trips to the vet in a carrier and has screamed during the entire 1 mile trip which has me concerned about making a trip from the US to Paris with him in the cabin. The vet advised against sedatives and recommended that I get him use to the carrier. I've thought about shipping him as cargo. Any suggestions, tips etc...
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Old Jun 7, 22, 9:20 pm
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Originally Posted by TomMM View Post
I've thought about shipping him as cargo.
While that would save you and the other pax the meowing, can't imagine that would be good for Whiskers. I'd probably opt for sedative/tranqs before shipping as cargo, personally, if it had to resort to that. I don't have much experience travelling with pets as I don't have any of my own, but I once had to drag our monster since my Mom had 2 cats and due to the one in cabin pet per pax rule, I got stuck with one of them. Nothing says FT lyfe like being a teenager at a US CBP preclearance station with a cat and a student visa.
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Old Jun 7, 22, 9:21 pm
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Don’t ship him as cargo. Too much can go wrong. Revisit the sedation conversation with the vet. Even a light dose of Benadryl may help. Test sedate him a few times at a couple different doses at home before you fly so you can see how he responds.

my cats carry on in the car for the first mile or two then settle down. You may want to try longer car rides and see how he does.

spend the money for a direct flight or as direct as possible. Bring towels in your carryon as it’s a long trip and he will likely have an accident on the way. Pack him a suitcase with litter, food, and bowls, etc so you know you’ll have everything you need as soon as you arrive.

I routinely take my cats 12 hours in the car to my second home but have a large cage where they can move around freely and have access to food, water, and litter. They don’t like the trip but they tolerate it.

i flew them from PHL when I moved to CA but they were much younger then. I’m not sure if I’d attempt it again. They’re 11 now.
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Old Jun 7, 22, 9:27 pm
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I've moved with my cats multiple times and shipping as cargo terrifies me. I would never do it. Too many horror stories, completely unfamiliar environment. If you think the cat is scared when you're in the car, imagine when the cat is basically just a piece of luggage. Nope.

Anyway, gabapentin can do wonders. It's not a strong sedative, it's more calming. My cat gets it sometimes just because she gets some attitude. I have found that even though my cat will scream in the car, her plane rides have been very easy. She tends to be a lot less bothered by the plane than the movement of a car. We've moved across country together and though she pitched a fit the entire way to the airport, she was quiet and slept for the flight every time.

I always pack a backpack with all the supplies I might need for her in case she has any accidents. I put a puppy pad in the bottom of her carrier and then a towel over it and if she has any accidents both can just go in the trash. Then I have extras in my backpack. I keep a little bowl for her to drink some water out of and a pouch of food. She's actually never used any of it but I'm always prepared. I actually think cars are just more jarring for them. Anytime I've flown with my cats, someone has always commented they didn't even know there was cat on the plane. I always leave the carrier out for a couple of weeks before the trip and often the cats will just go sleep in it. Make it a familiar place and something that smells like home and it will help a lot.
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Old Jun 7, 22, 10:36 pm
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We recently traveled with our cats across the country. They were under the seats in front of us. The vet gave us gabapentin to give to them, starting the night before, so that they were just calm and easy to handle throughout the whole airport and airplane experience. By the time we got to our hotel that night, we were, all of us, exhausted, but the cats had traveled calmly and safely.

A few tips: Tfhe vet emailed us their fit to fly paperwork. I printed it out and kept it in my handbag, along with hard copies of our boarding passes, etc. The airline never asked to see the cats' paperwork, but I felt much more at ease knowing that I had it handy, and did not have to scroll through my phone looking for the email. My husband took the cats through secondary screening at TSA. Basically, he said they took him to a small room, where he removed each cat from the carrier (one by one) so that the carriers could be screened for explosives, etc. A TSA agent happily played with the cat that my husband was holding while the other agent checked the carrier. It was all done quickly and the agents were very nice about it. I waited outside with the rest of our things (coats, my handbag, etc.). Like Jenn, we made sure to have a familiar toy and a small blanket that smelled like us in each carrier. It helped, I think. We went to the family bathroom to offer them water from bottled water and collapsible bowls we had before the flight. We did the same upon arrival.
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Old Jun 8, 22, 7:43 am
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My 2 cats flew the other way, from Paris to LA.

We gave them tranquilizers at the recommendation of the vet. They flew F on Lufthansa and where very well behaved.

I highly recommend giving your cat something to calm it, even if the vet doesn't recommend it. One of our cats is very sick and fragile and the vet told us to give him something.

Now they are very happy in LA, they enjoy a garden and someone with them all the time. They are thriving.
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Old Jun 8, 22, 7:51 am
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Originally Posted by ysolde View Post
My husband took the cats through secondary screening at TSA. Basically, he said they took him to a small room, where he removed each cat from the carrier (one by one) so that the carriers could be screened for explosives, etc. A TSA agent happily played with the cat that my husband was holding while the other agent checked the carrier. It was all done quickly and the agents were very nice about it. I waited outside with the rest of our things (coats, my handbag, etc.).
I had the same experience. They took me and the carriers into a room. I held each cat and the agents loved them. Cats were not bothered at all. It's quiet in there. I think being in the pet screening room is probably a coveted position in the TSA and they were nice as could be.

Good point about the family bathroom. I made sure to know where they were in case I needed one.

Also, I do put a comfortable harness on my cats any time we go on a long trip. Just in case. I have the end of the leash attached to the carrier. Nothing annoying or restrictive, but it's worth the peace of mind in case anything crazy happens. If the cat were to run, you can much more easily grab a cat with a carrier attached to it. I'm just extra cautious but it has lead to multiple easy moves with the furry friends. I've driven 10 hours and made multiple cross country flights with no issues.
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Old Jun 8, 22, 8:19 am
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Thanks for information. The thought of shipping him as cargo made me sick. I’ll have another conversation with the vet about a sedative.
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Old Jun 8, 22, 8:41 am
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My vet actually hands out gabapentin as part of their Calm Kitty visit pack. It's very safe and mild. If you have a fussy cat, you get a cute little bag with a couple of pills, some catnip, and a Feliway wipe. I get my sassy old cat a little high when she has to go in for a blood draw. She'll get a little tipsy and then come home and sleep so well that she snores.
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Old Jun 8, 22, 9:10 am
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I started this process by taking him to the vet for blood work and to be screened to see if there was any reason he shouldn’t come with me. He was okay once out of the carrier.

A friend suggested that I teach him to walk on a leash so I can take him outside when in Paris which I’ve been doing for a few weeks. He has gotten used to the collar and leash but at this point he walks me.

I am really interested to see how he adjusts to the Paris apartment which is 35 sq meters (about 380 sq ft). He currently resides in a 2200 sq ft house.
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Old Jun 8, 22, 9:51 am
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Not quite as drastic, but I moved my cats from 2200 sq ft down to just over 1,000 in a condo and I made sure to give them window seats and cat trees to go up. I've seen some cool shelves for the wall and trees that are narrow but go all the way up to the ceiling for smaller spaces. One of them has gotten a little chunky from not being able to run as far, but I'm using the laser pointer to get her to run around a lot more now. I'll lead her up on the bed, across the room and in circles to get her going. Also added some butterfly attracting plants on the balcony so they have a lot to look at.
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Old Jun 8, 22, 1:22 pm
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Strongly recommend Gabapentin. It doesn't completely knock out your cat and as I understand it doesn't have the adverse effects your vet is probably worried about (notably reduced breathing). Instead it acts as an anti-anxiety drug, making them less anxious and stressed. Be warned that it can make them a bit loopy, although that shouldn't be an issue if your cat is confined to its carrier.

Also recommend asking for the private screening room at the TSA checkpoint. As others have said, the agents can have you wait there with the cat while they scan the carrier - that way you don't have to worry about the cat getting away. I'd also recommend a harness if possible, might make it a bit easier to keep hold of your kitty while you're going through all that.

If you haven't checked flights, I would start looking now. Nonstop would be ideal, but also note that airline policies on in-cabin pets vary quite a bit. Some are more strict on size/weight than others, some don't allow in premium cabins, etc.

Good luck! We're moving with ours from the US to Stockholm early next year and can't say I'm looking forward to it (cat is pretty chatty and has never flown before either). I'm starting the paperwork now, planning to utilize all the above and just hope it goes well...
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Old Jun 13, 22, 3:02 pm
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Originally Posted by TomMM View Post
He has gotten used to the collar and leash but at this point he walks me.
Yup, that's basically what walking cats on a leash is like. Seems like your cat has mastered it, you just need to catch on

Another vote for keeping a harness w/ tag including contact info on the cat while traveling. Some cats are natural born descendants of Houdini and you don't want to discover your cat's hidden talents in a huge airport.
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