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A plane ride is more unpleasant for a cat than a car ride. Unknown odors, loud noises, and pressure equalization make flying uncomfortable even for quiet indoor cats. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to avoid traveling with the cat on the plane. Whether you move or stay abroad for a longer period of time, with little training, you can make the flight as comfortable as possible for your cat.
The legal side
If you want to fly with your cat, you need to look into the airline regulations. While some companies do not allow animals into the cabin and only let you carry them in the airplane hold, others accept to carry them into the cabin. However, regulations differ in terms of the weight and size of the shipping cage. In most cases, a textile carrying case is preferred, which is expressly authorized for air transport. As a rule, animals must be registered at the time of booking and often a certain fee must be paid.
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If you are traveling abroad, you must also comply with the requirements for entering the destination country. You can find information about this on the main page of the embassy of the respective country. Depending on the entry requirements, the cat needs a health certificate or certain vaccinations. A European pet passport is also mandatory when traveling to Europe. Don’t forget to carry all the documents on your journey, otherwise, you won’t be able to get your cat on the plane!
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Also, if you want to do something nice for your cat, don’t give them painkillers while traveling by plane. Many airlines even explicitly prohibit them. The reason is that they are several times stronger in the air than on the ground, and their effects are difficult to predict. That’s why more and more airlines are no longer transporting sedated animals, neither in the cargo hold area nor in the cabin.
If you want to calm your cat, you can use pheromone sprays. Dietary supplements containing the amino acid tryptophan should also stimulate the release of serotonin, the happiness hormone, in the brain and thus calm the cat.
In the case of safety checks, animals traveling in the passenger cabin must be removed from the cage. Ask for a separate room, in this case, suggesting that an escaped cat is not helping anyone and that air traffic will be considerably disrupted. Perseverance is often worth it!
During the flight
Preparing for flight is an exceptional situation, sitting on the plane and cabin pressure as the altitude increases are not pleasant for the cat. The reactions of cats are different: some calm down, others meow strongly. There are cats that panic or breathe quickly. No matter what happens, cats must stay in their carrier bag throughout the entire flight. It must be closed according to the regulations in force and must remain in place. There are good reasons for these airline regulations. No one wants your cat to get out of the cage and roam around the plane. Any allergies or phobias of other passengers, as well as the hours of searching for a lost cat, have to be avoided.
Depending on the length of the flight, you’ll want to give your cat a small snack, some water, or calm it down in some other way. A small sip of water or a little paste will motivate your cat to swallow and can help equalize the pressure. Not all cats want to drink liquids while traveling. Despite their thirst, many of them refuse to drink. On very long journeys, animals can be given water directly into the mouth using a disposable syringe without a needle. You can open the zip of the carrying case a little and put your hand inside. Don’t be angry if your cat is retiring or even hissing. Staying on an airplane is a truly exceptional situation!
Because of the air conditioning, it is often cold on the plane. A blanket placed over the carrying cage can protect the cat from air currents. However, not all cats like to travel in the dark. That’s why many carrying cases are equipped with several windows that close with Velcro and can be opened again if needed.
Finally… you’ve landed! But in most cases, the journey does not end when you land at the airport. If you have flown to a foreign country, you must go through customs control. Here, pets are not always of interest. In any case, you should have the cat’s health certificate and pet passport at hand. Without these, it is not possible to enter the country, and often neither is the return trip. You can find more information on the home page of the embassy of each specific country.
After the flight
Arriving at your destination, in a hotel room, or in a new home, the cat will continue to be a little agitated. Let her rest! However, you will probably also need to rest after a trip with a cat on the plane. During the period of accommodation in the new room, be helpful and calm the feline.
Have a safe flight and all the best to you and your cat!