Pet Tips 'n' Tales

25 Tips - Flying With Furry Friends

Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Here we are, Mary Ellen and Nymbus, winging our way to New York 30,000 feet up in the clouds.  I hastily "signed up" for a crash course, The "Follies and Foibles of Flying With Felines 101"  when the ANDERSON TV talk show phoned to ask me and one of my "swimming cats" to fly to New York to appear with John Fulton of Animal Planet's Must Love Cats. We passed the course with "flying colors". Below is a "cheat-cheat" should you ever happen to take the same course.

Our quiet home was set afire when the ANDERSON day time TV talk show phoned to ask me, along with one of my cats, to fly to New York as featured guests, with only 48 hours to prepare. My swimming cats and I have appeared on nine different TV stations/shows, but the film crews had always come to us. So, flying TO an appearance would be a first! Below are some of the tips I learned to help create a paws-itive flight experience for both you and your pet.
 - Contact the airline for specific pet travel rules/requirements. Making pet reservations in advance is a definite must. Minimum price of a pet ticket is $100, one way. Some airlines do not allow pets in cabins.
- Obtain a veterinarian health certificate/updated rabies vaccine. Keep copies of your pet's certificate in both the carrier and on your person.  
- Prepare your pet for the plane trip ahead of time. For example if your pet dislikes or fears car rides, acclimate them with frequent car rides to stops other than the vet, even just around the block several times, to help them feel "safe".  (Most cats' car rides consist of trips to a vet clinic, so they have learned to fear the car.)

- Insert extra twist ties through your pet's carrier to safeguard against it "popping open". Carry an extra supply with you. (TSA actually broke one off our pet carrier.)

- Place ID tags on carrier: home info, cell phone number, and your pet's name.

- Place a high quality 1" foam piece, cut to fit, in the bottom of the carrier to prevent undue pressure points from forming on your pet's body while confined in a small area.

- Wrap the foam in a "Puppy Pee Pad" (P.P.P.) to absorb inevitable "accidents" during flights/ flight delays/no time to walk pets between airline transfers etc.

- Wrap a small cotton towel over the P.P.P. to keep your pet cool. This double layer is a blessing when they are forced to eliminate in the cage.

- Sprinkle a little catnip under the towel to help keep cats calm.

- Carry a pet-supplied "diaper bag" with extra P.P.P.'s; towels; a microfiber (each in plastic gallon zip bags); several snack bags of pet food--you can open one at a time, and still have extra in case of spills and/or lost luggage); Handiwipes in a zip bag; leash; several snack bags of 4 tablespoons of kitty litter; and your own snacks.

- A microfiber cloth is excellent for cleaning up airsickness and/or "elimination" "accidents": moisten with hot water for fast, easy absorption of "accident residue". Replace the wet cloth in its zip bag after use for future sterilization.

- In the above case, microfiber cloths are work wonders for cleaning up your pet as the cloths are nontoxic, clean efficiently, and do not leave your pet soaking wet during the remainder of the trip.

- By prebagging the P.P.P's individually in gallon-sized bags it is easier to "zip up and toss out" after usage, rewrap the foam with a clean one, and replace the towel with one of the extras in the diaper bag to maximize your pet's comfort.

- Carry Handiwipes and/or hand sanitizer for "handwashing" when soap and water are not available.

- For cats, place a zip bag of cat litter in the center of a  P.P.P laid out on the airport's bathroom floor to use as a "litter box".

- Always hand-carry your own food and your pet's food onto the plane with you. Luggage gets lost, and you may not get an opportunity between stops to purchase food.

- Keep a soft, ID'd T-shirt-type harness on your pet. Attach a leash before opening the carrier to walk through the terminal/carry them through security. Remember cats can run at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour so you don't want them more than a leash distance away!

- Carry a bungee cord to help attach the carrier more securely to a pet stroller; then, wrap the bungee cord around the stroller during the flight.

- Make things easier on yourself by placing the pet carrier onto a pet stroller for wheeling your pet from gate to gate. (In Denver I arrived at one gate and our next gate was 53 gates away!) Transfer the pet from the confining carrier to the stroller for limb-stretching between flights. Leave the stroller at the airplane door, ALWAYS get a claims tag, and retrieve the stroller at the end of your flight.

- Place ID on the stroller: Cell phone number, home address.

- Keep boarding passes and snacks, and extra sani-wipes, pet food, kitty litter etc. in your purse or a fanny pack in case you have to place the diaper bag in the overhead storage. Also, a toy is beneficial to entertain them on the flight.

- Give your pet (yourself, too), homeopathic Rescue Remedy prior to the trip to promote calmness.

- Cocculus Indicus homeopathic remedy is historically used for sea sickness/travel sickness for pets and people.

- During the flight, I placed the pet carrier onto the empty seat beside me and seat-belted it into place to make Nymbus feel more "at-home-resting-on-the-couch" beside me.

- Take-offs and landings simulate the incline of a child's slide, especially for nonseat-belted items, like cats in carriers. To prevent pet facial, eye, etc., injuries,"reverse" the pet carrier so that the tail end will slide backwards, vs. the face.

- Be aware of your pet's specific elimination patterns before traveling. For example, Nymbus always uses his litter box in the car during a car ride, so at 3AM on "flight morning" in order to encourage Nymbus to empty his bladder, my husband got up and drove him around town, which did the trick! This literally takes the pressure off your pet and you and promotes a "comfortable" flight for all.

- Here's to a purr-fect trip for you and your pet! "Bone" Voyage!
Mary Ellen's and Her Swimming  Cats' Bio
Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
My cats have appeared on the front pages of two newspapers, the cover of Awareness Magazine, and in countless other magazines. (They are favorites of Animal/Feline Wellness Magazine). They were also the models for four different Morning Sun sweatshirts. Not many household pets become Celebra-cats!
Featured on Animal Planet's Must Love Cats and the ANDERSON Daytime TV Talk show.
- Chicken Soup for the Soul author- twice! "I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!" and "O Canada".
- Author of Expect Miracles and A Christmas Filled with Miracles.
- Pet Tips 'n' Tales columnist
- Animal/Feline Wellness Magazine contributor.
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AngelScribe, PO Box 1004, Cottage Grove, Oregon 97424  USA
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