Flying to East coast from Hawaii

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Purred: Thu Feb 23, '12 7:49pm PST 
The time has finally come for us to move off this cramped little island. Of course that means a long grueling flight to arrive on the east coast, and on this flight is poor little Sipr.
Sipr does not do well with traveling. On car trips, she is constantly banging and digging against the sides of her carrier to get out, yowling the entire time. She starts what I would consider 'hyperventilating'/panting. It worries me. This is a long flight. Thankfully I'll be able to take her as a carry on so I can monitor her, but I need to calm her down.
Anybody have experience with an anxious feline flyer, have any tips for me?

Al Hirt

A Jazzy New- Orleans Kitty
Purred: Fri Feb 24, '12 6:53am PST 
Check with your vet, they could recommend something to calm the cat down. And after reading all the horror stories of cats escaping from carriers, PLEASE be sure the door to the carrier has a small lock on it, and even some of those bungee cords wrapped around it so there is no chance of the cat getting loose in an airport or plane. Or, have you made arrangements to have the cat travel in the cabin with you.

Good luck...........

The New Orleans Kitites


Silly girl
Purred: Fri Feb 24, '12 4:33pm PST 
As a vet once said to me, just because a cat doesn't like riding in a car doesn't mean they will react the same way on a plane. I had a Siamese who was like that in the car -- she would yeowl and bang and chew on the door of the carrier for hours. But she was perfectly fine on the plane, in the cabin -- not a peep out of her. The vet didn't want me to tranquilize her on the plane and she was right!

So I'd say determine if it's the car ride or the carrier that Sipr hates. If it's the car ride, I wouldn't worry so much about taking her on a plane.

If it's the carrier she hates, then you may need something to calm her because she'll have to be in it for such a long period. I'd be very cautious with tranquilizers. Talk to the vet about trying a small dose ahead of time to see how Sipr does, then increasing it until you find the right dose for her. You don't want to wait until the day of the trip and then discover she has a bad reaction to it or that it does nothing to calm her.

You could also try Feliway, Bach's Rescue Remedy, a calming collar or something like that, to see if that would calm her without using drugs.

Make sure the carrier is airline-approved and fits under the seat. I like soft carriers that squish to fit under the seat for take-off and landing, but can be pulled out and expanded for most of the flight and allows them a little more room. Some people fear cats might be able to scratch or chew through the mesh fabric on a soft carrier, though, so you need to consider if she might go to that extreme.

It's a good idea to get the carrier you'll use ahead of time and get Sipr used to it. Try to make it a place she likes and wants to spend time in. Leave it out all the time so she doesn't fear it, and doesn't associate it with "going in the car" or "going to the vet". Give her treats in the carrier, add a soft blanket, make it a little refuge for her.

Get a harness ahead of time -- the "H" type, not the figure-8 type -- and get her used to having that on. I'd leave the harness on her for the entire trip, in case you have to take her out of the carrier for any reason. You'll also need a leash to attach to the harness when you go through security. You'll have to take Sipr out of her carrier and hold her as you walk through the scanner at security, while her carrier and your things go through x-ray. If she should try to jump out of your arms, she can't get away as long as you're holding onto the leash.

That's going to be a long flight or flights! I'd put a soft pad in the bottom of the carrier to make her comfortable. Then put 1 or 2 puppy pads on top of that for the flight, in case she needs to pee during that time. You will need to withhold food for a few hours before the flight, so I'd be a little concerned about her being without food and water for such a long time. I'd ask the vet about it. You might want to carry some cat food with you. If a flight is delayed for a long period, you'd have something to feed her. We almost got delayed overnight and had no cat food with us. Luckily we got onto another flight.

The last time I flew with cats was Jan. 2010 so I'm not familiar with the full body scanners, if you encounter those. Otherwise, I could give you a few more details about getting safely through security with a cat, if you want them.