The part of moving that I was most stressed about was flying with my two cats. Just taking them to the vet in our car is an ordeal. I then read all these horror stories online of checked animals in cargo dying due to the different temperatures or getting lost, that I decided to carry on both my cats and put them under our seats. United charged $125 per cat though, which I think is bull since that under the seat space is already technically mine, no? I was even more miffed to find that we weren't allowed to pre-board, yet parents with babies that got to fly free could. Paying that much extra should be considered at least biz class boarding or something. Boo United!
On top of the cost, we then learned that you have to take your cats out of their carriers and carry them through the metal detector! I'm not sure if you ever held a scared cat when someone makes a loud noise, but it's not pretty. It's like holding Jello with claws. In prep for this we bought little kitty harnesses and leashes for double insurance. However, they were so freaked out that they cooperated when we walked them through. While we waited for their bags to clear the belt though, my older cat Patches started to freak out. She was the one we suspected would be the most difficult as she's scared of her own shadow. Raphael put her on the ground though and held her there until we could put her back in her carrier, which did the trick. My 1-year-old cat Bandit though was too busy looking around to care, in fact, it was hard getting her back into her little cell again. All in all, this went pretty well and I was now wondering why I'd been so nervous these last few weeks.
On the flight they only meowed a few times and no one seemed to notice. I started feeling like a smug and proud parent. Granted, Bandit kept flipping her carrier over and was kicking around under our feet, but I figured that was to be expected.
Then, two hours left into our flight, I felt fur rub against my ankles. I of course jumped to action and let out a little squeal when I saw my cat looking up at me outside of her bag. I quickly scooped her up onto my lap just before she darted. However, she was not liking it. It was a struggle holding on to her. I tried wrapping her in the airplane blanket, but she kept trying to bolt.
After examining her carrier, we were horrified to see that she had ripped right through it. We had trimmed her nails the night before, so suspect she bit the area and had been gnawing at the mesh for awhile. We spent over $50 on the stupid Sherpa Backpack Pet Dog/Cat Kitten Airline Carrier, so I was immediately pissed at the company for causing this situation. How can you call it an airline carrier if it can be torn asunder by an 8 pound cat, who is normally a very gentle cat. She's never even bit or scratched me. Now, however, she was like a possessed kitty.
We didn't want the flight attendants to discover our little escapee as we weren't sure what they would do. We feared they'd have animal control waiting for us at the gates or that they'd want to land somewhere else or something. When they walked by with drinks, we put our blankets over Bandit and pretended to sleep.
Although there was room in Patches' bag, we didn't want to put Bandit in there with her in case she ripped that one too and then we'd have two cats loose on the plane. It was the longest two hours of our lives as we tried to conceal and control her. We were also busy scheming about how we were going to get her off the plane without her running a muck in the airport. Luckily, we had brought two pillows on board with us, so we wrapped the carrier in the pillow cases and forced Bandit back into the bag during landing and prayed that she wouldn't tear apart the pillow cases too, and then where would we be? The pillow case held though even as we nervously waited for our luggage and during our drive to our new home. Phew!
So, if you're ever flying with your pet, I'd like to give you these words of wisdom. Use sedatives... for both you and your cats. Or better yet, avoid flying all together!