Air travel with pets: A cat owner’s guide
Are you moving to a new city or country and trying to figure out how to fly with pets? Or perhaps you love taking your cat with you on holiday and you’re looking for a way to make the trip as hassle-free as possible.
Air travel with pets can be stressful and overwhelming for both you and your kitty. But it doesn’t have to be.
Keep reading for a comprehensive guide on how to travel with your cat so that your next plane trip is a breeze.
Make the Flight Booking
It’s very important that you speak to the airline directly to book the ticket for your cat. After making your reservation online, call the airline to book or confirm your cat’s reservation.
Each airline has different pet policies about the number of in-cabin and in-cargo pets allowed. The airline may even have flights that don’t allow pets at all, so it’s important to check this.
It’s best to make the booking a long time in advance and try to avoid any layovers as this would add unnecessary stress to the journey.
When you reserve your seat, keep in mind that a cat carrier cannot be placed in the emergency rows or against a bulkhead.
Pack Some Important Items
There are some items to pack that will make the trip more comfortable and hassle-free for you and your cat. Pack some paper towels and a resealable bag for unexpected poops.
Always have a spare collar and ID tag. Bring along a bag of treats and a collapsible water bowl to keep your feline friend fed and watered during the trip.
Choose a Comfortable Cat Carrier in Advance
The cat carrier that you use to take your kitty to the vet is not suitable for air travel—especially long distances. This is because your cat has created a negative association with the carrier used for the vet. Pets don’t usually have good experiences at the vet.
If you have a second carrier that looks and smells differently, it may help to reduce your cat’s stress.
Ensure that you get a carrier that meets the airline’s requirements and purchase it in advance.
A soft-sided carrier works well for air travel as it fits more snugly under seats.
Do Carrier Training at Home
One of the most important tips for taking your cat on a plane is to get your kitty comfortable with their carrier. In fact, with the right encouragement and training your cat may even learn to enjoy being in his carrier.
You want to create positive associations for your cat and its carrier, which is a lengthy process. Start the ‘training’ several weeks before your trip.
The carrier should always be open and out in your home so that your cat learns that it’s a great everyday place to hang out.
Encourage your cat to spend time in the carrier. You can feed him in the carrier to create a positive association. Perhaps place his favorite toy or blanket inside. Remember, you should reward your kitty every time he spends time in the carrier, so have lots of treats on hand.
Help your cat get used to spending extended periods of time in the carrier by taking them on short car trips around the neighborhood. And then, reward him.
Use Pheromones for Calming
Consider purchasing a synthetic pheromone for when it’s time to fly. You can spray it all around and inside the carrier. These pheromones work to lower stress that is associated with new experiences and environments.
It’s essentially the same pheromone that your cat releases when they rub against objects. Spraying it on the carrier may help him to feel more relaxed and as if he’s in a safe environment.
Prepare for Security Checks
Security checks are usually one of the most stressful parts of air travel with cats. The carrier needs to go through the X-Ray machine without your cat in it. This means that you will need to take your kitty out of the carrier and hold him while the checks are conducted.
Your cat may find this stressful with all the strange smells, noises, and people in the unfamiliar environment.
Only take your cat out of the carrier when you have already put all your stuff through the machine so that your hands are free. Ensure that your cat is wearing a form-fitting harness and leash to prevent a chaotic escape.
How to Prepare Your Cat for a Flight
There are a few things you can do to ensure your kitty has a comfortable flight. If it’s a short flight, withhold breakfast so that your cat doesn’t get nauseous mid-flight.
You should also line the carrier with a potty pad so he can go about his business.
Consider a Pet Transfer Service for Air Travel With Cats
Knowing how to fly with cats, all the regulations, and the red tape can be overwhelming. Consider pet air transport services to reduce some of the stress.
A good service will be able to assist you with booking, concierge services at the airport, getting your documents in order, and vet care services.
Are You Prepared for Air Travel With Pets?
There’s a lot to think about and a lot to prepare when it comes to air travel with pets. But, if you follow these steps and allow your cat enough time to become used to their carrier, it can make the journey a whole lot easier.
Remember to be patient, use lots of positive reinforcement and do what you can to make the trip as comfortable as possible for your feline friend.
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