If you don't want your cat to act up during an flight, you'd better plan ahead. The more comfortable your cat the less likely he is to meow. If things get sour, the best thing to do is to comfort him with a soft voice and light petting.
You should start thinking about keeping your cat quiet on an airplane long before the flight. Perhaps the most important thing is your cat carrier: Without this you're not getting on the plane. Check with your airline ahead of time for measurements. A soft-shell fabric carrier allows you easy access to your cat mid-flight, although you'll have to be more careful with it, and your cat, during transport. Leave the carrier out a few days before the flight and put a toy or two inside it. The day of the flight, put a used article of clothing or something else with your scent on it in the carrier. The familiar smell should help put your cat at ease. You might also bring a towel or blanket to cover the carrier so your cat doesn't panic at the airport or on the plane.
The Vet Visit
A vet visit within 10 days before the flight is good idea for a plane-bound cat for at least two reasons. Foremost, many airlines require a certificate of good health for your cat to be in the cabin in the first place. Second, a vet can offer you medication to help keep him calm. The latter is somewhat controversial: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states it's not recommended because "it could hamper his breathing." Ask your vet what she thinks. Often, when drugs are prescribed, your vet will give you an extra dose or two to try on your cat ahead of time to gauge his reaction ahead of time. Follow all vet and label directions.
Before the Flight
It'd be great if your cat slept through the whole flight. You can try to tire him out ahead of time by playing with toys the morning of the flight. Try a laser; most cats love lasers. It's also important that you don't feed your cat in the hours before a flight. Give him a small meal four to six hours before the flight, then take his food and water away. Also, pack a small food and water dish and a disposable litter box with you so you can offer your cat amenities during layovers. You might also want to pack a towel or something else to clean up accidents your cat has before, during or after the flight due to stress and cabin pressure.
Your cat is supposed to be in a carrier beneath the seat in front of you during takeoff and landing, period. A calm tone of voice may help soothe the savage beast, but otherwise you don't have many options during these transitions. In the air, however, you can gently slide the carrier out and put it on your lap. Pet your cat through the carrier. If he falls asleep, don't disturb him. Offering one or two treats or a finger wet with water can help calm your cat down during the flight, according to PetTravel.com. If your cat starts meowing on the flight, keep calm and tell him to calm down or that he's a good boy.
- Catster: Traveling With Your Cat by Airplane
- Catster: Cat Travel Tips
- Catster: Buying the Right Cat Carrier
- USA Today: How to Travel Long Distances With a Cat
- CatChannel.com: Flying With Your Cat
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Air Travel Tips
- PetTravel.com: Pet Travel -- Keeping Your Pet Calm During Airline In-Cabin Travel
- Ryan McVay/Lifesize/Getty Images
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