View Full Version : Re: Will my cats recover from the trauma of a long flight (again)?

No More Retail
November 22nd 05, 02:19 PM
Gary if you have time before you leave take the pet carriers place them in
a main area door open let the cats get used to them for a day or two put
some catnip in them put treats in them then once they start going in them
put their food in them the cats will get used to them again. I leave mine
out all he time my cats play in and out of them all the time.

2nd do you have a reliable vet if so you may want to test how your cats
respond to sedation if they were that traumatized before I don't like to do
this put it is an option

3rd make sure the airline you are going to be traveling since you are over
seas coming here to the USA that the airplane has climate controlled cargo

"Gary Lo" > wrote in message
> Hi,
> Some background: My wife and I used to live in the U.S. but a few years
> ago we had to (unexpectedly) move back to our home country. Of course we
> brought our two cats with. (They're like my wife's children so we HAD to
> bring them.) Unfortunately the only way to take them on an overseas
> flight is in cargo (we used Lufthansa). They were very traumatized after
> the long (20h+) flight, but they were fine soon afterwards. However they
> are now clearly scared of the pet carriers!
> Now I got an opportunity to work at a great company in the U.S. again, but
> our main concern is taking the cats back on the long flight. (Leaving
> them behind isn't an option).
> Of course they'll be traumatized again, but could such trauma have a long
> term (psychological?) effect on them? Or do cats recover OK after trauma?
> I want to do the best for my cats, but it would be very sad if I have to
> decline the best job offer of my life because of cats!
> Thanks for any opinions.
> Gary.

November 22nd 05, 05:36 PM

Have you considered taking them in the cabin? There is a really good
website with all kinds of tips for travelling with cats:


I think Lufthansa allows it. I am not sure about maximum number of cats
per cabin, but in the worst case you could fly separately...

Anyway, I would buy new carrier and try to get them used to it. Putting
catnip and giving them treats when they go inside the new carries might
help them accept the new carriers.

good luck.

November 22nd 05, 07:56 PM
Suddenly, without warning, exclaimed
(22-Nov-05 5:36 PM):
> Hi,
> Have you considered taking them in the cabin? There is a really good
> website with all kinds of tips for travelling with cats:
> http://www.ramblincat.com
> I think Lufthansa allows it. I am not sure about maximum number of cats
> per cabin, but in the worst case you could fly separately...
> Anyway, I would buy new carrier and try to get them used to it. Putting
> catnip and giving them treats when they go inside the new carries might
> help them accept the new carriers.
> good luck.

Site seems to be down.


November 22nd 05, 08:19 PM
Unfortunately, there is something weird about this site. I can seeit
though most of the computers I use. But, in my computer at home I
cannot see it. I do not know why. I think it has something to do with
the firewall, but I couldn't figure it out.

November 22nd 05, 09:13 PM
He can try this website to link to the different airlines' rules:


I was able to get the ramblincat site. Here is what it said for cargo:

Traveling as Cargo

Almost all of the stories and suggestions on this site are based on our
personal experience of traveling with our cat, RC. We travel when and
where we want at our own discretion, therefore we never transport RC via
cargo. Unfortunately, others don't always have that same flexibilty.
We've been asked again and again for ideas about transporting pets below
deck, so we've tried to come up with ways to keep your kitty, or pup, safe.

Someone posted a story about a family who moved 4-5 cats from Canada to
California. They lost 1 of their cats who was traveling in a small
carrier when the carrier was nearly crushed in transit and the cat
escaped. Another of their cat's carrier (another small container) had
the door popped open from something too heavy having been put on top of
it -- fortunately, that kitty was too terrified to leave his carrier.
The only cat that traveled in cargo whose carrier wasn't damaged was the
one in a large dog carrier.

This led to the idea of using 2 carriers to transport 1 small pet. The
first carrier is a normal size (i.e., big enough that the cat can lay
down comfortably, but small enough that if the carrier is tossed
roughly, he won't be slammed across the cage). The 2nd carrier is the
size for a large dog. Put your furry one in the small carrier, after
lining it, and then put the small carrier into the large one. Strap the
small carrier down so it won't slide when moved.

Here are the advantages to this arrangement:

* The larger carrier is less likely to be stacked which is a
frequent challenge with small cat sized carriers in cargo.
* If the cargo is packed tightly -- the norm so the cargo doesn't
shift during transport -- then your cat will still have air flowing
around the inner carrier.
* Your cat can't get a paw or tail trapped by other cargo.
* The baggage handlers are much less likely to "toss" the carrier
as it's size will require more careful handling.

Of course, there are disadvantages:

* The cost of transport will be much higher because you pay by
weight and you have to buy 2 carriers.
* If the travel time is extensive, then it will be more difficult
for the airline staff to get into the inner carrier to feed/water your
cat. Personally, unless the trip is over 16-18 hours, I wouldn't be too
concerned. Cats are capable of doing without water and food for much
longer periods than humans. RC often won't eat or drink for that period
of time when we're traveling, even though we offer him both, frequently.

Of course, you should always include food and a water dish with
instructions for the crew. Also, consider putting an ice cube in the
carrier or add a gerbil style water feeder (although the ones we tried
always leaked, but it would be better than nothing) to insure that your
kitty has access to water if it's a long trip.

One person has tried our suggestion of using inner and outer
carriers, and she reported success!

Please, please, please, don't sedate your pet. This is going to
be a stressful experience ... for everyone in the family probably ...
but cats can't regulate their body temperature when they're sedated.
Also, more pet deaths in the air are caused by sedatives than any other
cause. After you arrive at your destination, try to devote extra time
with your pet to help him understand this was an unusual event and
everything's now back to normal. One fellow traveler reported that it
took her cat about a month to fully recover from a bad cargo trip, but
with extra TLC (tender, loving care), he was his old self.

Be sure to read the suggestions about flying with a cat All the
advice won't apply, but lining his carrier, withholding food, etc.,
should apply.


If you can get a cat in the cabin, that would be your perfect answer.
I'd be nervous about a pet in cargo too, so I hope you're able to find
an international carrier that would let them ride with you.

Good luck!



> Hi,
> Have you considered taking them in the cabin? There is a really good
> website with all kinds of tips for travelling with cats:
> http://www.ramblincat.com
> I think Lufthansa allows it. I am not sure about maximum number of cats
> per cabin, but in the worst case you could fly separately...
> Anyway, I would buy new carrier and try to get them used to it. Putting
> catnip and giving them treats when they go inside the new carries might
> help them accept the new carriers.
> good luck.

November 22nd 05, 09:40 PM
Well, I am happy someone was able to get into the site. I am being able
to enter. Folows some more information taken from the site:


What airlines accept pets?

We keep a list of airlines and their policies about traveling with
pets. Be sure to make your reservation as early as possible as most
airlines restrict the number of furry travelers per flight.

The airlines frequently change their web sites and although we try to
keep the information up-to-date, you may find a bad link to a specific
airline's policy. If that happens, search their site for "pet" or
"animal" and you'll probably find the details you want.


Should I use tranquilizers on my cat?

Most experts agree that it's difficult to predict the effects of
tranquilizers when a cat is flying in an airplane. According to an
article in the 15 September 1995 issue of the Journal of American
Veterinary Medical Association, "Oversedation is the most frequent
cause of animal deaths during airline transport and accounts for almost
half of all deaths."

We have never used tranquilizers on RC, regardless of the mode of
transport. When we first started traveling with RC in a car, he wasn't
too keen on the idea and often meowed and cried. I'd prefer to listen
to him than to leave him helpless. If he was knocked out, he couldn't
alert us to his needs.

I understand there are new tranquilizers that don't knock out your cat
totally. If you really feel like you need to use sedatives, you might
ask your vet about these. Also, consider holding off on using them
until you're sure you'll need them on board. RC hates airports (and
often is vocal about his displeasure), but he is as good as gold once
we board. You might want to read our comments about the differences
between behaviour in cars and planes.


Should I feed my cat before the flight?

If you're shipping your cat in the cargo hold, most airlines require
you to withhold food for 4 hours before the flight. If it's an extended
flight, then you'll need to include a container of food with
instructions for feeding. If your cat isn't an experienced traveler, he
won't be too concerned with food anyway.

Remember that cats can go for extended periods of time without food,
but not water. We've never shipped RC as cargo, but we did try using a
gerbil's drip bottle for water one time. By the time we reached our
destination (about 2 hours), we had one drenched and unhappy cat. We
tried a couple of other designs with similar results. Karen, a visitor
to this site, suggested that you put ice in the water feeder. That way
your kitty will have access to water in small quantities without
becoming sodden himself. Sounds like a great suggestion.

If you're taking your cat on board or in the car (bus, train, or boat),
then you should still withhold food for several hours before departure.
We're not too precise about this, but remember if the transport gets
bumpy, it's likely that you're going to have to clean up after an upset
little one.

If it's an extended trip, we feed RC in his carrier and offer him water
every few hours.


How do I carry a litter box on the plane?

You should bring a disposable litter box and enough litter (we usually
carry 2-3 lbs for a 10 hour trip, 5-6 lbs for longer trips) in your
carry on luggage. If your flight is long, or you detect that your cat
seems to need "to go", then take your furry one, disposable litter box,
and litter to the restroom and set things up. If this is your cat's
first flight, don't expect him to relax enough to use the box. If
you've Prepared for "Accidents", you'll be able to handle the

Personally, I don't really like the commercial disposable litter boxes
(the sides are too low for RC's preference). We first came up with
another solution because we couldn't find any commercial boxes. Even
when we're departing from the USA, we're more likely to Build a
Disposable Litter Box when we travel than use the ones on the market.


Do I have to take my cat out of his carrier when I pass through airport

In the USA, yes. In other countries, especially Latin America, you can
probably just show them that you have a cat and they'll let you carry
him through the metal detector.

See Flying High Across the Borders for tips on handling taking your cat
through the security check point.

If you do get to leave your cat in the carrier, hold the carrier in
your hand in front of you so it passes through the metal detectors by
itself, as much as possible. The detector only allows a certain amount
of metal. You don't want the carrier to be added to whatever jewelry,
etc. that you have on your person. It's frustrating to figure out what
else you can take off (barrettes, watches, belt buckles) so the alarm
will stop beeping!


What is the best type of carrier for air travel?

A soft-sided carrier works best if you're taking your furry guy in the
cabin with you. This eliminates the concern that the carrier isn't the
right size for the aircraft you're traveling on. See Soft vs. Hard
Carrier for our experiences with different types of carriers.

Of course, if you're shipping your cat as cargo, you'll need a sturdy
plastic carrier that is approved by the airline. If your cat is
traveling within the US borders, then the carrier must have air holes
on 3 sides. If you're shipping your little guy internationally, then
you'll need air holes on 4 sides of the carrier.

Regardless what type carrier you use or whether you bring it aboard or
not, you might want to look at Preparing for "Accidents" to keep your
cat as dry as possible.


What paperwork do I need to take my cat between states in the US?

If you're flying with your feline companion, then you'll need a "US
Interstate and International Certificate of Health Examination for
Small Animals" that is issued less than 10 days before your departure
by your vet. You should also carry documentation that your cat had
his/her Rabies shot more than 30 days ago and less than last 12 months.

Just to be on the safe side, we also carry documentation showing that
our cat got his annual shots for FVRCP, and Feline Leukemia. The more
paperwork you throw at anyone who asks, the less hassle you seem to
get. :)


What paperwork do I need to take my cat to another country?

Regardless where we've traveled with our cat, we've always needed a
recent health certificate and a document that shows he has had a Rabies
shot more than 30 days ago and less than last 12 months. Many other
countries don't recognize the newer 5 year certificates so have your
cat revaccinated if a 5 year vaccine was used more than 12 months ago.

There are some countries that require verification that the Rabies shot
was administered at least 30 days ago and not more than 6 months ago.
Check with the destination country's consulate for details.

If you are traveling from the USA to any other country, you'll need an
"US Interstate and International Certificate of Health Examination for
Small Animals". You may even need 2 certificates because most airlines
require one be issued less than 10 days before departure and some
countries require health certificates be certified by the USDA and
their Consulates which will probably take more than 10 days.

Your vet should be able to supply the international health certificate.
Contact the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service department (there should be an office in your
state's capital) to find out the requirements for the destination
country. You may need to get a special seal (cost $16.50 as of early
2000) for this Certificate of Health from the USDA, but the Inspection
office should have details. Here is an 800 number that might be able to
provide details or give you the local office number: 1-800-545-USDA.

Our cat also gets annual shots for FVRCP, and Feline Leukemia (not
required, just our preference). I always bring the vet's paperwork
showing these shots were administered within the last year. It seems
the world over that most bureaucrats think the more paperwork you have,
the better.

If you're traveling from outside the USA, be sure to check with the
local authorities to see if there is a requirement to get an export
license. We've only run into this requirement when we flew out of Costa
Rica and Thailand, but I always check to be sure.

If you're traveling to the USA, I strongly recommend that you have a
current health certificate and documentation showing your cat got his
Rabies shot in the last 12 months. I've never seen "current" defined by
the US authorities, but we get RC's certificate within less than 10
days of heading to the States and it's worked every time. The health
certificate isn't technically a requirement, but the authorities can be
inconsistent in what they expect so it's better to have one than not.


Will my cat be quarantined if I travel to...?

There are few countries around the world that require quarantining
domestic animals. I have a list of destinations and their requirements
to import cats. If the destination's name has a jump point, then click
on the jump point to get the official information from the government's
office or other authority.

If your destination isn't included and you get the details from another
source, please send me e-mail so I can update the list.

You can read one woman's experience when her cat was quarantined in
Australia's facility for 30 days in 1999. There's a lot of prep work
when your cat has to be quarantined, but it's worth it.


What paperwork does my cat need to enter/re-enter the USA?

According to the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Service department, there is no quarantine when you
bring a domestic cat into the States regardless if your cat has been to
the USA before or not. The Customs division of the US Treasury confirms
this information as long as the cat is free of evidence of diseases
communicable to humans.

We strongly recommend that you have a current health certificate and
documentation showing that your cat got his Rabies vaccinations in the
last 12 months. I've never seen "current" defined by the US
authorities, but we get RC's certificate within less than 10 days of
heading to the States and it's worked every time.

Should I keep my cat in his carrier when we travel by car?

Of course, it's much safer for you, your cat, and other motorists, if
you do. Whenever there is only the driver and RC, RC stays in his
carrier which is seat belted in place.

In reality, we've allowed RC to roam free when there are 2 adults in
the car on long trips. Whoever is not driving assumes responsibility
that RC won't bother the driver. Fortunately, RC has decided the
backseat is his domain and only ventures up front when the car is
stopped for an extended period. We understand this is a risk and I'm
not recommending it; I'm simply letting you know what we do.

We have decided for our own car, we're going to get an auto barrier
that separates the front seat from the back. These are most commonly
used for large dogs (they look like the barriers that you see in police
cars), but we can see no reason why they won't work for cats, too. If
we block the openings under the driver's and passenger's seats, it will
prevent RC from being able to disturb the driver. He can still wander,
use the litter box at his convenience, and watch out the back window at
night, without endangering us or others. It will still put RC at risk
if we're ever in an accident, but at least he won't be the cause of

How long can I drive each day?

I'm not sure there has ever been a typical travel day for us. Our
travel times vary from 2-3 hours in a day, up to 15-16 hours. It seems
8-10 hours is the most comfortable for RC.

If we are on an extended drive (measured in weeks at a time), then we
try to take a day off every 3-4 days. RC seems to need these days of
rest. When we try to push on day after day, RC becomes too stressed.


Should I stop periodically to let my cat stretch his legs?

I wouldn't recommend that you take your cat out of the car, unless he's
in his carrier. I've never seen a harness that can hold a cat and he's
likely to find the unfamiliar territory too scary to relax and enjoy

If your cat is traveling in his carrier and you feel that he is getting
restless, you might stop in a quiet place, without zooming cars and
noisy people. Close all doors and windows, turn on the a/c if it's
summertime, and let your little guy wander around the car.

You should be sure that you've blocked the openings so he can't get
under the seats -- otherwise, you're going to spend a good bit of time
trying to encourage your little one out from this tight fit. Climbing
into the back seat without opening the doors, getting on the floorboard
on hands and knees, and trying to gently tug a determined cat ... well,
you get the idea. It makes you wish you were a contortionist, and, as
I'm sure you realize by now, I've had experience perfecting my
technique. :)

Remember that cats spend most of their days sleeping so I'd only let
your cat out of his carrier if he really wants out. There's a high
probablity that he'll be glad when you arrive at the hotel and he'll
just sleep until you do.


Should I keep food, water, and litter in his carrier?

I wouldn't recommend putting any of the 3 items in your cat's carrier
while the car is in motion. First, your cat is unlikely to eat, drink,
or use the litter box unless he's an experienced traveler. Water is
likely to slosh around and leave you with a wet, unhappy kitty. We even
tried attaching a water bottle, but we couldn't find one that didn't
leak after the first hour of travel, again soaking RC. Cats evolved in
the desert so they can go for several hours without water; just make
sure they have plenty when you get to the hotel.

You'd have to get a very large carrier or have your cat sit/lay in the
litter all of the time to accommodate a litter box inside your cat's
carrier. The major disadvantage of a large carrier is that if the
vehicle goes around a curve too quickly, your cat can't brace himself
and can be tossed to the opposite side of the carrier at speed. You use
a seat belt to prevent this from happening to yourself; get a carrier
that's just big enough to let your cat lay down comfortably and he'll
be able to brace himself from unexpected turns.

When you decide to take a break from driving, find a quiet place to
park, away from other motorists. Close all the windows and doors, and
see if your cat would like water, food, or access to the litter box.
Don't worry when he turns up his nose at all 3. He can probably wait
until you reach the hotel where he's more likely to take advantage of
these conveniences with more enthusiasm. If you prepare for accidents,
then both you and your furry one should make it through a long day of


What else can I do to make a long drive more comfortable for my cat?

We don't tend to listen to the radio, CDs, or tapes when we're
traveling. But, I noticed another woman, Beth, who travels with her
cats suggest that you keep the radio, etc. tuned to the quieter sounds.
If this is your cat's first long car trip, he's likely to find it
stressful. The less noise he has to contend with the better.

Also, be sure to keep his carrier out of the direct sun. Even if the
temperature of the inside of the car is comfortable, direct sunlight
can really up your cat's body temperature.


How do I manage multiple cats in the car?

A fellow visitor, Beth, sent me an e-mail message detailing how she
manages transporting up to 3 cats in the car by herself. She was kind
enough to give me permission to publish her tips, so click here to
learn from an expert.


What other web sites have information about traveling with a pet?

There are a lot of sites about traveling with dogs, but fewer that
focus on cats. Here are a few sites that we've found have useful
information. Let us know if you find any others.