Cats on a Plane

At 3:30 am on June 1 I woke up to my alarm, starting a journey that will last 8 days by feeding my 13 year old white & blue grey, British shorthair / domestic shorthair mix Dexter 1 1/2 alprazolam. A half hour later I fed Pierre our 10 year old black domestic shorthair a 1/2 a pill. The last of our possessions packed into 4 overstuffed duffles and two carry on backpacks full of identification, batteries and various electronics. My stomach turned with anxiety, my entire body tingling with anticipation, nerves firing at random and all at once, asking myself if we were really ready for this I had to say yes, we had tried to think of everything, prepare in every way possible for this moment.

At 5am our friend Marcos arrived and within 10 minutes the last of our garbage had been tossed into the dumpster outside and our bags were loaded into the back of Marcos’s car. It was time to say goodbye to Las Vegas with a few punches into the keypad on the door, and two intoxicated cats snug in their sleepypods.

The ride to the airport was mostly uneventful, a few yelps from the fur babies, but for the most part we chattered like Marcos was just dropping us off to the airport for vacation, like we would see each other for dinner or on set in just a week or two. The reality that it will be months, if not a year before we are all in the same place together has yet to really sink in. Once we arrived at the airport I was so preoccupied with the kitties I almost forgot to say goodbye to Marcos and give him a hug. As I turned around with a sleepypod in each hand, each step brought me closer to the reality that things are about to change in a big way. I put the cats on the ground while Mr Danger loaded a luggage cart, and I hugged Marcos, soaking in his aura, basking in our friendship, feeling grateful for having such an awesome person in my life. I picked up the creatures to get our place in line while the guys finished loading the cart and saying their own ‘see ya later”.

No matter how hard it might be to say ‘see you soon’ when you don’t know how soon it will really be, it’s still not goodbye and that’s what matters most. Walking away I knew I was walking towards the next big chapter of my life, and that luckily Marcos will still be a part of that. I was ready to leave Las Vegas. But what were the cats thinking? We as the humans making these plans had months to prepare for the move, to mull over the idea of leaving, and be present for all these small transitions and preparation, but what about them? Could they tell what all those vet trips were for?

Regardless of how they really feel, or what they could sense, the cats did great during the long wait to check in, Dexter mostly sniffed around and Pierre was being a mostly quiet spaz, clearly we need to reconsider his dosing. The two were surprisingly chill when we had to take them out of the carriers to go through the X-ray machine and other passengers and TSA complimented our well behaved kitties and some were awestruck by seeing cats in harnesses and leashes being walked /carried through X-ray machines in the airport.

1 tram ride and a short wait at the gate later, we boarded the plane, luckily we had priority boarding so we were one of the first on the plane. The kitties were placed under the seats in front of us and we placed light blankets over the front, sprayed with feliway, in hopes that it would calm them, limit their stimulus and put them to sleep. It kinda worked. Within 30 minutes of being in the air (with the seatbelt sign still on) Dexter had a little tinkle accident which I smelled immediately and I had to get to the bathroom before everyone on the plane could smell it! I sprinted to the bathroom like an awkward new mother wafting the cat piss down the isle. Thank goodness for the puppy training pads in their carriers for sopping up most of the mess, and double thanks to sleepy pods for making multi part carriers. I had dexter wandering the small bathroom floor all woozy while I unzipped the top of the carrier, removed the soiled puppy pads, then unzipped fur lining to bag up like a dirty diaper because of course he didn’t just go on the pads after wadding them up under him! I used the baby wipes from my bag to clean him up the best I could and I swear when it was done my hands smelled worse than Dexter or his carrier, even after washing them several times! The rest of the flight was mostly uneventful, luckily there was an infant in the seat in front of us that made more noise than both the cats combined, the only problem was that the baby definitely agitated the poor kitties!

Surprisingly Pierre was our loudest,and most fidgety traveler, he was fussy and vocal and bumped around in his carrier like he just wanted to escape. While, other than his little accident, Dexter slept through most of the flight and most of the yowling and hissing of his brother. This is the opposite of every other travel experience these two have had where Dexter is usually our wailing, hot mess. Throughout the flight MrDanger and I took turns sleeping while the other listened for any signs that the kitties needed attention. Once we landed we hauled ass to the baggage claim where our driver was waiting and helped get me and the cats into his car and the air conditioning then go back to assist Mr Danger with the bags. Pierre and Dexter were happy campers once the Dome Tops were unzipped and they could pop their heads out and check out the scenery during the drive! Dexter spent most of the ride laying on my lap / stomach while I attempted to get some shut eye, while MrDanger rode with Pierre in his carrier on his lap.

About 9 hours from leaving Las Vegas we arrived at my parents house in NY. I felt like we had finished a marathon, I was exhausted, proud, and definitely feeling accomplished. Quite literally a year of recurring nightmares revolving around traveling with Dexter and Pierre had me dreading that first flight, the longest of our 3 flights/ travel days required to move to our new home in the Caribbean. I know we aren’t there yet and we’ve got a long way to go before we arrive at our ‘final destination’ but I am still proud of this small accomplishment, one flight down, lessons learned, and a game plan is forming for the next flight 5 days from now.

I cannot thank the vets at VCA Hualapai enough for all their help and attention to detail in handling my seriously confusing travel schedule and crazy kitties leading up to this trip, without them I don’t know what I would have done! American Airlines was super accommodating and helpful when it came to all my questions and all the kitties needs. Some airlines flat out refused to let us travel with the cats on board even if we paid for full fare tickets! Personally I could never put my cats under the plane with cargo, too many reasons to go off on a tangent for but thank you American for treating our cats like the ‘babies’ they are (to us). Not to mention the flight attendants that assisted me with the various errands I sent them on while I was trapped in the bathroom with Dexter sorting him out.

 

Traveling with cats is not easy and can be super stressful, if you have any questions about the specifics, logistics etc of traveling with cats, please feel free to respond with your questions, concerns etc and I would be happy to answer / address them!

I will be blogging as much as I can throughout the trip / transition to Caribbean life on this blog so stay tuned for more !

xxx

Kayla

PS

The SleepyPod medium mobile pet bed although not technically within the measurement guidelines for onboard pets it is soft and compressible in certain directions and fit very well under the seat and my larger cat Dexter had plenty of room to move around get up and change positions etc not to mention they use them as beds when they aren’t traveling so they have plenty of time to acclimate instead of associating the carrier with just the vet or travel. ! The kitties love them! If you have a smaller breed they do make other carriers that fit all under seat guidelines but unfortunately is a little too snug for Dexter. Of course check with your airline before flying with pets of any kind to make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork, the correct carrier for the kind of flight  in cabin vs cargo have very different rules, and of course make advanced arrangements for your pets to travel with you – you’d hate to find out they need to stay behind when you are at the airport!

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