Cat Airplane Travel Mistakes Owners Make

Cat airplane travel can be perfectly safe for your cat, even if you don't use a specific cat airline such as Pet Airways. You can easily avoid several typical cat airplane mistakes that pet owners make. Traveling with your cat requires research and planning, and may require purchasing a new airline approved cat carrier.

Lack of Research

Many cat owners assume that the airline will tell them what they need to know about cat airplane travel. It is best for the cat owner to start his own research as soon as he knows that he'll be traveling with his cat in the near future. You can get excellent information from your vet, other cat owners, and by contacting several different airlines.

Using An Improper Cat Carrier

You will need to buy an airline approved cat carrier. Cat carriers are either made of solid plastic, wire or have flexible, soft sides. You want to make sure the carrier is strong enough to fully protect your cat if heavy luggage falls on the carrier. You also want a carrier that will stay upright during landing and take off, or in the event of luggage running into it. The carrier should be large enough that your cat can comfortably stand and turn all the way around. A cat carrier with an opening at the top as well as the front will make it easier for airline personnel to remove the cat from the carrier in case of an emergency. If you can take your cat on the plane, a soft-sided carrier makes it easy to have the cat in the passenger area of the plane.

Not Familiarizing the Cat with the Carrier

Your cat should feel comfortable in his carrier long before being stuck in it for several hours. Buy the airline approved cat carrier at least two weeks before your trip. Put soft bedding, treats and toys in the carrier to make it appealing to your cat. If you introduce the cat to the carrier several times without closing the door, the cat will feel more comfortable and will go into the carrier more willingly. He will also be less likely to urinate in the carrier out of anger or anxiety.

Exposing the Cat to Temperature Extremes

Cat airline travel can be hazardous to cats if they will be exposed to extreme heat or extreme cold. Find out from the airline if the cargo hold has a regulated temperature. It's important to take a direct flight, if possible, because it might be extremely hot or extremely cold on the ground at the layover location. There are new laws in place to help protect cats from extreme temperatures in luggage or cargo compartments.

Feeding Right Before Cat Airplane Travel

Feed your cat moist food and offer fresh water six hours prior to travel and then restrict access to food. A small amount of water an hour before travel and the early feeding of moist food will keep your pet hydrated. If there's a water dish attached to the side of the kennel, you can put in one or 2 ice cubes which will give the cat some water on the trip without messing up the carrier.

Improper Identification on the Carrier

Cats can be lost just by an airline. If your cat has proper identifying tags with your name, phone number and address, the airline can contact you in an emergency, or if your pet is misplaced. Also make sure that the carrier itself is well marked in permanent ink with your contact information.