I recently went back to NYC to get my cat. I literally made myself sick with anxiety for years at the thought of one day having to relocate with my cat. I’ve googled “long distance flying with pet cat” and “moving with cat” countless times, and I’m not sure anything really prepared me for what to expect.
I moved from New York to California (at first, by myself, and then I went back to get the furbaby). My cat has feline epilepsy, which she takes medicine for daily. Her seizures can be triggered by stress, and although she hasn’t had an episode in over a year, I still worry. She’s also about 8 years old.
Here is the ins and outs of my kitty’s trip.
Step 1 – Planning ahead
- I flew with my cat as an in-cabin pet. From what I’ve read, this is LOADS safer than checking a pet in. If you have you cat crated and sent by plane, you don’t know what will happen from when your cat leaves your hands to when you land and get your cat back. You can opt to add an in-cabin pet when you book your plane ticket. This cost me $125.
- I purchased a roomier carrier than I already had (I bought the Sherpa deluxe delta carrier). I wanted my cat to be as comfortable as possible during the trip. I made sure that the new carrier fit the size requirements as expressed by the airline.
- For domestic flights, my airline didn’t require any paperwork. I took my kitty the vet a couple of days prior to the trip to get some sedatives for her and also get her checked out before traveling.
Step 2 – The big day
- I didn’t fast my cat. My vet told me it wasn’t necessary. If my cat was going to have an accident, it was going to happen. It didn’t though! She was a trooper, holding it in.
- The total travel time was: 1 hour drive to the airport + 2.5 hours checking in, going through security, and waiting to board the plane + 5.5 hours on the plane + 1 hour getting out of the airport and driving to my apartment. TOTAL: 10 hours in the carrier.
- Checking in was relatively painless… It was going through security that sucked. Despite the airline customer service assuring me that my cat won’t need to be taken out of her carrier, TSA told me that the carrier would need to be scanned separately. They told me I would have to hold my cat, and go through the body scanner with her. I let the TSA people know that I couldn’t do that – my cat has never been in this sort of situation and was probably terrified, and she also hates being held. They took me to a small enclosed plastic room right next to the queue and had me take my cat out there. I highly recommend you insist on having your cat’s carrier scanned this way if there’s any fear that your cat might bolt. Also, my cat while she hates going into the carrier while at home, will gladly scamper in when she’s in an environment she’s unfamiliar with.
- The flight wasn’t too bad either. I sedated my cat as directed by my vet an hour before the flight. My cat was quiet for the entire flight, and car ride home.
Step 3 – Welcoming my cat home
- I made sure to set up the litter box in advance. As soon as I let my cat out of her carrier, I made sure she knew where the box was.
- I also showed her where her food and water bowl were.
- She was a bit out of it from the sedation, but it wasn’t too bad.
Step 4 – Cats are not the most well-adjusted creatures
The first two nights were kind of awful. My cat spent the second night crying and pacing the entire time. She also kept stepping on me and pawing my face, which is what she does when she wants food… But her food bowl was completely full. I got very little sleep.
It’s day three today, and I’m hoping she’ll settle down.
I hope this helps anyone who finds themselves in a similar predicament. I just wanted to let you know that it can be done… It has been done!