Flying with a cat - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-19-2009, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 4
Flying with a cat

Hi everyone,

I just joined this forum specifically to ask if anyone has any advice about taking a cat on an international flight.
I have been teaching English for about a year in Korea, and I decided to adopt a cat about 10 months ago. I felt like it was the right thing to do because life is terrible for cats in this country, and I had been wanting a kitty companion for a while.
However, my contract is up in November, and I will be returning to the U.S. I have been planning all along to take her home with me, and even signed a contract with the shelter saying those were my intentions. As the time draws nigh, though, I am getting pretty nervous about how she will cope with such a traumatic upheaval.
I will be flying directly from Seoul to San Francisco, which is about a 10-hour flight. I know that cats can be carried either in the cabin or in the cargo area depending on the airline and the flight, but 10 hours cooped up in a crate?!?!
I'm hoping someone on this forum has been through this process before and can reassure me or at least give me some information about how it works. Please!
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-19-2009, 01:14 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Monroe, GA
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Re: Flying with a cat

Our member Sungeun flew from Japan to Michigan just a few months ago and her flights were longer and involved layovers and changing planes. She and her cat Prince came through just fine.
Be sure to purchase an AIRLINE APPROVED carrier, either hard-sided for luggage area or a soft case for in the cabin. Also be certain to have all veterinary needs and certificates met before your flight, both for requirements of the flight and for entering the US.

10hrs is *nothing* to be cooped up, they sleep most of their days anyways...but I would not expect your cat to feel comfortable enough to sleep while traveling. It will be stressful to him, the degree will depend on how sensitive and reactive your kitty is.

Best of luck and welcome home!

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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-19-2009, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 263
Re: Flying with a cat

hey!!! i flew from tokyo to arizona last year with my cat. azores was in such distress i think she peed or emitted some type of fear smell cause her carrier smelled like a skunk anyways.

heres what i did. i googled all the airlines that fly in and out of tokyo. i believe i took american airlines. when i chose a carrier i googled their website and looked up their pet policy. some carriers charge the cat as a small child (wtf is that about?!?!?) they normally ask that you let them know before hand if you plan on carrying a pet on the plane. they also tell you what size the carrier should be.

i bought a soft carrier that was slightly wider than what the carrier asked but fit the rest of the measurements.

so what i did is i went to my fav place to get tickets like orbitz or whatever and found flight information. then i called the airline and told them my situation. "hi im flying to az from tokyo and have a cat that i want to bring in cabin. are all the slots taken to take a cat in cabin (normally they only allow 2 pets in cabin)? if not how much is it and are you ok with a soft carrier with these measurements???" if everything is cool they will "book" you a "seat" (silly isnt?) and gives you a confirmation number. tattoo that number on your body!!!! ill tell you why in a minute. i believe i also called orbitz or whatever to make sure everybody was on the same page. i think they placed a note that there was a pet flying. i made sure that i got email confirmations from carrier, company and god lol and i printed it out, in copies just in case.

because i was in the military at the time i got with my vet and told them the same day my intentions. they set me up to have azores shots up to date. because i was moving to the base hotel for a few days they had a place for azores to stay overnight cause hotel doesnt accept pets. azores was sooooo scared, i think she thought i was giving her up! i had to pay for her stay and i made sure that the shots were up to date within a week. let the vet know your flying international because the airport will require paper work from you and the vet will give it to you as well as some advice, if their good vets.

now because we didnt live near the airport (we were outside of tokyo) we had to order a taxi and of course i asked if the cat can come aboard. so i reserved that.

make sure you have your tickets, your kittys info, confirm numbers all that in a neat folder with sleeves so nothing falls out.
when we got to the airport the hubbie had to take azores to the quarantine area. they verified her shots were up to date and that everything was good to go with the paperwork, it took about 15-30 min so definitely get there super frigging early, im talking like 3 hours early (i dont remember if we paid for it, but keep some cash on you just in case).

next we checked in at the counter, this is were that confirmation tatto comes in. they didnt associate azores "seat" with our tickets, so i wipped out the confirmation numbers and emails. at first they wanted me to pay but i told them i already paid for it, and showed them the printed out confirm page and confirm number. the guy had some problems with english but he was really good, he realized he spelled something wrong and everything popped up.

so heres the slightly scary part (at least for me). azores had a spike looking collar and when it went through the xray machine it cause some hold up (i thought i was going to get arrested for haboring a terroist cat with her spiked yet cute pink collar), lol, once they realized it was a cat collar they let me go.

naturally your cat doesnt go through the xray machine, but his/her collar will and her carrier. they normally want you to hold your cat while you walk through the scanner so wear little jewelry and pretty much keep things in your purse so you can just plop that down in the bin. i hope your cat doesnt get so scared she/he pees himself. azores was shedding like there was no tomorrow. so i had to pull her out of her carrier and walk through once i had her back in the carrier the biggest of the stressors ceased. when i boarded the plane she meowed softly but once the engines went she stopped. on occasion she would cry and we would place her on our laps and pet her. some people dont realize that when your on the plane your not supposed to take your cat out at all. so if you can just stick your hand in carrier and comfort your cat that way. because we had a soft carrier we could hug the carrier and that made her feel better.

the cat doesnt have to go into quarantine back in the states unless you go to hawaii.

if you think your cat is gonna freak out ask the vet about calming stuff. they suggested giving azores benadryl. i dont know how to administer it via pill so i bought pill crushes and mixed it with water and sucked it in a dropper, but azores was so scared that when we tried to give it to her she choked on it. so see if you can drop by the vets office the day you fly out and have them give your kitty some "relaxers" (they may also have some soft carriers). i hope you have a lot of time before you fly out because if you cant find a soft carrier out in town it will take a while for it to ship. i had to order one but i did so way before i was set to fly out.

im at work but when i get home ill check the company name of the carrier i have and post it here. my cat is fairly small and is around 7-8lbs, 9lbs when she has too many treats, and shes narrow. but when i had jade she was like 10-12lbs and very wide and was comfy. azores had no problems rotating in the carrier and can almost stand up in it (sort of like us bending our knees slightly). jade was wider so it was a little hard for her to move around. she had short legs so she had no problem standing up.

they will spend most of their time scared sh!tless and maybe sleep. my cat refused to eat anything. another thing. some places will say bring food and water. dont think so. they wouldnt accept it and we had to throw away the food and water. just like how they dont want you to have bottled water on you. i would however pack treats and food in your luggage. if your flying home to family have them pick u up a litter box and some cat food. or you can order all that online and have it shipped to their house so its all set up for you when you get there!

i hope this help, if you have any more questions let me know!
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-20-2009, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 4
Re: Flying with a cat

thank you thank you thank you!!!
you have no idea how much better i feel about this now!
ChairmanMeow is offline  
post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-18-2009, 04:24 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 49
Re: Flying with a cat

Thank you Chairman meow this was very helpful (another forum member kindly put this link on for me.... thanks Jadea jade!) I am weighing up whether to take my puss from Spain to UK by plane (2 hours 30mins) or boat 24 hours plus 9 hour journey to the port by car.
Trouble is he has to go in the hold and is not allowed on board with me.
Your experience was most helpful. Why didnt your puss go through the xray machine? Do you think they would remove my cat from his carrier to xray it? Or do you think he would go through in the carrier as he is a rescued feral and although a sweetie with me and my husband would freak if someone else handled him as he was treated badly as a kitten when he lived in his feral community.
Thanks for sharin your experiences
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-20-2009, 04:48 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 6
Re: Flying with a cat

I have read some places that x-rays might be harmful for pets. X-rays for baggage checks aren't regulated for human (or kitty) use, and they aren't operated by nurses or vet techs. It hasn't been tested or anything (that I've found )but there's a possibility it could be harmful, especially to a small animal or cat. If you have to remove a cat from the carrier and you're not sure if they'll freak out maybe you could try using one of those cat sacks? I'd get one with no metal, and just sack the cat before you start the gauntlet (quarantine, security checks etc.).

But as for a 10 hour trip, that's really no big deal. Toe-fu was fine sitting in his carrier for 8 hours while I drove to my apartment, although he wanted to be in my lap and play. I didn't feed him for 8 hours before the beginning of the trip (we started early in the morning so just no food in the middle of the night) and he got his water cut off a few hours before it was time to leave so he wouldn't have bathroom accidents (don't like letting pets out to wander in the car, they're just as in danger during a car crash as a people, if not more. So the litter-box behind the seat thing doesn't work and his box wouldn't fit in his carrier without taking all his sitting room away) He was perfectly fine, gave him a toy and he played and gave him a little bit of water and a few treats about half through the trip. Fed him and gave him a box immediately when I got to my destination, and he didn't even sulk or get vindictive with me.

If I HAD to fly I'd take a favorite toy and a wubby (some kinda blanket or towel that smells like home) and try to find some kinda collapse-able litter pan (didn't have time for my trip, it was kinda like "Ok I'm going home now" "Oh yah here's a kitten" ".... geeeeee thanks!" <-- unplanned mother). I'd take a quart size baggy of litter, A snack baggy of dry cat food and I believe now that TSA allows small containers of liquids so long as its a clear container. The only reason I'd take all this stuff is because it seems like Murphy is running the entire air transportation business, and I'd hate to be stuck in an airport or on the tarmac for more hours than planned with a kitty and not enough supplies, it's a bit like flying with a baby in fact. (heeeey diaper bag, good thing to carry all this junk with)

I wish Amtrak would allow pets or make some kinda kennel car. I much prefer trains.
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