I spent a lot of time panicking before I left with my cat on our international move. I debated a lot on whether to even take her with us on our move from the USA to Germany. In the end it came down to the fact that I could not part with her. I describe some of the rules and regulations for traveling with pets in my book. However, for this blog, I’d like to offer some personal experience of how cats behave on planes.
First, you’ll have to make a choice based on your cat’s weight and age and decide if the cat will go with you in the cabin or below in cargo. Also, check your airline’s regulations. Some only allow cats in the cabin domestically. Furthermore, book ahead of time as the airlines will only allow a certain number of pets in the cabin per flight.
I chose to bring my very old grumpy cat in the cabin with me. It was a ten-hour flight from Dallas to Frankfurt and then I had to get on a forty-five-minute train to my destination. So I was in a complete panic when I realized she might have to be in a carrier for almost fourteen hours including wait time at airports!
TSA or security in your local airport may be your first hurdle with any animal. A co-worker told me to request a separate room for my cat when security asked me to remove her from the crate. I foolishly ignored this advice. When you remove a frightened cat from it’s carrier in the middle of an airport to show her to security officers let me tell you, all hell can break loose. I have never heard her growl like that before. I am so glad she did not get away, can you imagine the cat running through Dallas International Airport? My next tip would be to find a family restroom or handicapped restroom that might be a single room rather than stalls. I was able to find one and go inside and comfort her for a bit.
I did use a sedative for my cat, this, however, is a personal decision. I did a test run with her in the carrier and the car and she howled non-stop for 30 minutes so I was terrified she would get me kicked off the plane. Talk to your vet about sedatives and try one out beforehand to make sure there are no surprises. I spoke with a number of people whose cat did not need one for short flights.
On the plane, I have to say she was absolutely fine! She didn’t complain once. I even took her into the bathroom and let her out of her carrier but this scared her more. I had read this from other people as well. It seems most cats prefer the security of the carrier once put in.
I did not want my cat to starve or dehydrate so I did allow food and drink but before we left home. When I landed in Frankfort I again found a private bathroom and let her out. I offered her food water and a travel size kitty litter box. She refused all of it and jumped back in the carrier.
So bottom line I’d say cats will be fine and all the worrying was for naught. I felt horribly guilty and hope I never have to do that to her again but we had few choices. Certainly, do your homework before your international move there is a lot involved but rest assured if my grumpy seventeen-year-old cat can make it your pet can as well.
** Anyone have a personal experience with international moves and dogs and want to be a guest blogger? Contact me and we can collaborate.