Flying with a cat - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-10-2015, 12:08 PM Thread Starter
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Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Washington
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Flying with a cat

I hope this is the right place to post this question

I'm flying with a cat tomorrow and am super nervous. It's the first time for both of us. He is extremely chill and I've never ever seen him stressed, so I'm not too worried about his behavior. I'm much more concerned about the flight attendants and airline.

The dimensions given on the website for pet carriers is crazy small (height wise). My carrier is a good 2" taller, so I went ahead and bought the 'official' one at the airport a couple of weeks ago and have been taking him out to get used to it. The problem I have is that there is zero support on the sides, so the top is basically resting on his head, regardless of what position he's in. He does have room to stand up/rearrange himself, but that darn top is on him all the time and it's driving me nuts.

Last night, I took his normal carrier to the airport and asked the agent at the ticket counter if she thought it would fit. I told her the dimensions listed online were smaller than the carrier, but she was very firm in stating that it will definitely fit and not to worry.

I'm worried that we'll get to the plane (with the old carrier) and they'll say it's too big and not let me fly. I really don't think it'll fit all the way under the seat, but it'll definitely rest at my feet with no problems.

Does anyone know - are they really strict about actually putting the animal under the seat in front of you? I've brought carry on items before and just had them at my feet, not necessarily under the seat.

I'm sorry that I'm rambling....I really can't wait for this flight to be over. Any experience or guidance you can share would be greatly appreciated.

(I should add that I've already prepped him for traveling - he's been sitting at my feet at knitting night for a couple hours at a time in his carrier and is very comfortable being out in public. I also have Feliway and treats for the ascent. I know he'll probably be more stressed than normal, but given his baseline level of 'chill', I am confident that it won't be bad.)
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-10-2015, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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One follow up you think it's mean to him if I do use the smaller carrier? He can definitely move around with ease, it's just that the top is always resting on him. I get claustrophobic looking at him, but he's never seemed to complain about it. I don't want him to be miserable for 2 hours
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-10-2015, 02:50 PM
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Is there any way you can cut a cardboard box to those dimensions and put it in the carrier with him? That way the top wouldn't be resting on him. Either way, two hours is nothing, he'll be fine. He sounds like a very laidback kitty.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-10-2015, 10:58 PM
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I've used one of those soft sided airplane carriers several times to fly with various cats. My kitties have not minded the floppiness of the carrier. If you really want to use the old one, can you fold up the new one and bring it with you, just in case they tell you at the gate that your other one is too big?

Also, the airlines I've flown on with my cats (I think it's been United and Delta) have allowed me to keep my cats on my lap or on the floor the whole time. Most full grown kitties aren't going to fit under the seat, regardless of carrier size! This is probably a little dependent on airlines, of course, but I've only once had a flight attendant ask me to put my cat underneath the seat. I don't think she realized it was a cat in a carrier, but once I told her "This is my cat. Do you have passengers put their infants under the seat?" she let me keep him on my lap. Every other flight has not had any issues with the carrier being on my lap or on the floor where my feet go.

I've found that it's helpful to tell the flight attendant that I have a cat while I'm boarding, so they know what to expect when they come around for their seat check. This also lets them check with nearby passengers for allergies, etcetera, and reseat them if needed.

All of my guys cried during take off and landing- the noise and pressure changes can be disconcerting, especially since they don't understand what's going on, so be prepared for that.

Also, it's been a while since I've done the flying-with-cats thing, but I've always had to take my cats out of the carrier to go through security. If the policy is still the same (probably is!) you'll have to take him out and carry him through the detectors while the carrier goes on the belt with your other belongings. This really terrified one of my kittens when I flew with her, but one of my other male cats absolutely loved all the attention from the TSA agents.
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-11-2015, 09:39 PM
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My friend used a soft carrier when she brought her mother's cat (after her mother died) from St Petersburg, Russia to NYC. We had a stop over somewhere in Europe, by now I've forgotten where, so it was two flights, one of which was fairly long. I was sitting next to her on the same flight. The cat, Marfa, didn't mind except she (the cat) figured out how to open a zipper mid-flight and went out for a bit of fun or maybe to inspect the plane - I mentioned the story on a similar thread - but was caught almost immediately by a nice man across the aisle who gave Marfa back to us. We had to be super vigilant after that.

My friend did got her on her lap every now and then; occasionally, the flight attendant would ask to put her in the carrier, which she did only to get the cat out later. I don't remember the airline by now, either Finnair via Helsinki or Lufthansa via some German city or KLM -- this was years ago. I guess it depends on the airline and attendants.

Marfa was fairly small - a purebred Persian - and the carrier fit fine under the seat. She was a very docile cat, both because of her breed and age - she was a senior cat.

Two hours is really nothing. One thing - as we went through security before our flight to the US, they wanted the carrier to go through the X-ray machine and my friend refused. So they took my friend and the carrier to the back room and examined the carrier there while I watched other belongings. I think in the US you also have an option to ask for private screening which may work better depending on the cat.
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