Q: We’re moving from the Las Vegas area to the Chicago area. What’s the best way to move our 12-year-old cat? I’m worried she may be too large to fit under the seat on an airplane. Or should she endure a three-day care ride? I’m in a quandary. J.N. Henderson, NV
A: “I think the shorter the ordeal the better, and therefore going by plane would likely be ideal,” says feline veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, of Chico, CA. “Airlines do charge a fee, of course (to carry a cat on board), and have specific size limitations for carriers. Hopefully, the cat would fit.”
Colleran, a past President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners, says if you have a very nervous cat, talk with your veterinarian ASAP about pharmaceutical intervention for the trip. That way, you can try out the drug of choice well before departure to make sure your cat responds as you hope. Certainly, a spraying the carrier with Feliway before the trip or using Feliway wipes is a no-brainer. Feliway is a copy of a naturally occurring pheromone which can help nervous kitties.
On another topic, if your cat is overweight (which sounds like it might be the case), see your veterinarian about a sensible weight-loss program.
If you travel by car, your cat should be in a carrier (not loose in the car). Make stops along the way to allow your kitty to stretch. Colleran suggests using a disposable cardboard litter box, available inexpensively wherever pet products are sold.
Colleran suggests putting a leash and harness on the cat to make sure she doesn’t run away should she somehow get out of the carrier, or if she does her business outdoors, she’s on a harness and leash which a person is holding on to. Even if you fly, a harness and leash are a good idea to minimize risk of a scared cat running off. When you’re screened by TSA staff, ask to be in a private room with closed door. You have the right to make this request.
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