It looks like I may have to take my cat on the plane with me when I go home for Christmas, and I'm a little concerned about him. Whenever I take him in the car, he makes miserable noises for HOURS before settling down. The flight will be very short (1 hr), but we will have to travel to the airport, be there at least an hour in advance, take the flight and then drive another 40 minutes to my parents' place. I've booked a late night flight which should be less full, but I really would like to minimize the misery for myself and those sitting around us.
If I can't find someone to look after him while I'm gone, he will have to come with me, and will have to come on board rather than in cargo (it's too cold, and cargo is 2x the cost). He has been on a plane once before on a much longer flight, but went cargo (I actually didn't travel with him--he was essentially FedExed from one country to another), and he is completely comfortable being in his cage (he sleeps in it when he is at home!). The issue is when you start moving the cage around.
Some vets suggest sedating pets for air travel, while others strongly recommend against it. Friends suggested I try giving the cat a small amount of gravol BEFORE I go home to see how he reacts. I get what they're saying, but the idea of unnecessarily medicating him skeeves me out.
Has anyone had experience with this? I'm hoping I can find someone to look after him, making it a moot point, but right now, it looks like he's getting on a plane in 3 weeks. (to those who suggest another mode of travel, unfortunately, it's not an option right now. I don't have a car to drive, and he cannot come with me if I take the train or bus)
Founder of the "I met a COTHer in a foreign country" clique!
I personally have no issues with sedating an animal for travel if it's necessary and makes life easier for everyone, especially the animal. If he's that stressed about traveling, it might be a good idea. Not sure that Gravol (that's the same thing as Dramamine, right?) would be my first choice, but it does work for some. I would recommend talking to your veterinarian about possible sedatives rather than taking the advice of friends...cats are extremely sensitive to some medications and I would hate to see your kitty have issues due to adverse drug effects. Hopefully you can find someone to look after him and it will be a moot point!
I saw this thread's subject and all I can think of, it's the sequel to "Snakes on a plane".
I'd make sure my vet knew his drug's and I'd test it out before the trip. My cat on Romp? almost suffocated herself because she couldn't lift her head up away from the blanket. All that said she'll probably be fine under your seat.
I took my cat on a plane ride with me when I moved to FL earlier this year. He's done lots of longer car rides before and was ok, but I definitely was nervous as well.
I chose alprazolam (xanax) as the sedative to try for him based on my knowledge of sedatives. ASK YOUR VET! This is not the sedative for every cat. I tested it first a few days before to get a good dose for him. It worked beautifully; however, he was very vocal still. Luckily over the airplane noise no one could really hear him.
Definitely ask your vet for sedative recommendations. You don't want it to be a horrible experience for your cat, so sedating them and putting them into a more relaxed state of mind is in their best interest. It will make the trip immensely easier for you as well. Also make sure you get a carrier that will fit under the seat. I chose a Sherpa carrier.
What everyone else said re: sedatives. My pet shipper has told me no way due to the risk of suffocation, but if your cat is with you and you can check regularly, there may be a calming alternative that would keep him quiet without sedating him quite so much.
You've probably already done this, but just in case: make sure kitteh is booked with the airline on your flight!
According to the Mayan calendar, the world will not end this week. Please plan your life accordingly.
I would definitely lightly sedate a cat for a long trip in a carrier based on our horrifying experience. During an emergency evacuation my cat became extremely stressed (and took the word "evacuation" literally, to our great dismay) so I was lucky enough to have a vet prescribe a sedative. I don't have the bottle anymore but I think it was ace (it was yellow). I gave her half the recommended dose and she basically just got drunk -- still functional but just slow and calm. She drooled a bit and was uncoordinated but the screaming, pooping and clawing to get out stopped, and the only side effect was that she seemed less anxious than usual the next few days as well.
My former vet prescribed Valium for my kitty years ago during a stressful time. It comes in very small-dose pills and worked well.
However, an alternative to Rx drugs that I'd consider is Rescue Remedy, an herbal mix of Bach flower essences. You can buy it at most vitamin stores or online. Here's more info about it: http://www.rescueremedy.com/
I give this to my horses to settle them a bit every year during the 4th of July "war zone" fireworks several of my neighbors are very fond of doing. I give each horse about 10-15 drops, and all they want to do is hang out, quietly munching hay as all heck breaks loose in the skies above.
The biggest reason not to sedate is because you take away the cat's body's ability to deal with the pressure and climate changes. I would never ever sedate a cat (or other animal) for a flight unless it was really the ONLY choice for getting through it safely.
My cats, even those who were terrors in the car, have all been fine on the plane. I think the environment is SO alien that they figure they're better off being quiet and hoping no one notices them! My current boy used to get motion sickness when he was younger, and the vet recommended giving him a quarter of a Dramamine for that (because cat puking and having diarrhea everywhere all across the country was NOT an option!). This never seemed to have any appreciative sedative effect, though it did stop the motion sickness (thank goodness!). He's since outgrown the issue, and flies and drives med-free now.
Be aware that you will have to take your cat out of the carrier and remove all collars, tags, harnesses, etc and walk through the metal detector with him. (I don't know how it works at airports with the see-you-naked machines, as I haven't flown with a pet in the past year - probably you have to go through the metal detector with the cat and then get the pat down.). So if having him "loose" (so to speak) in a stressful environment is likely to cause trouble, you may want to figure out a Plan C. (I've never had an issue with it, but I do find it the most stressful part of the whole operation!)
Also, make sure you are prepared - in your carry on! - for unexpected delays/reroutes. You do NOT want to be sitting in Fargo, ND at night in the dead of winter, with no access to your checked luggage, thinking, "How am I going to find cat supplies HERE?!" Ask me how I know... (Luckily I had everything but a litter box, and a VERY nice hotel shuttle driver!) And, while I'm guessing you are on a direct flight (given the length) and so thinking you don't need to worry about layovers, understand that the aforementioned flight was never meant to end up in Fargo...
Last edited by Kementari; Nov. 26, 2010 at 06:36 PM.