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Moving with Pets

As some of you may know, we're moving from Los Angeles to Chicago in mid May.  We were originally planning on driving out, but we're now considering selling both of our cars since it doesn't seem like we will need them in Chicago and it is crazy expensive to park there.  However, the idea of flying from LA to Chicago with two cats scares me.  Does anyone have any experience flying with a cat?  We've made two local moves since adopting them, and they've both cried the entire length of the car ride so I can't imagine how they will react to a four hour plane flight.  Any advice will be appreciated.

PS I may have to post and run but will follow the thread!

Re: Moving with Pets

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    Make sure when you book your tickets that they will allow the cats on the plane, and that they have space. I know it sounds kind of stupid but a lot of planes will only allow a specific number of animals on the plane (sometimes only 1) so keep asking until they give you an answer.

    Also call them with the specific model number and height requirements for carriers (and use a hard carrier). Even better if you can bring it to the airport for confirmation before the flight. I had a large number of panicked customers coming into PetSmart because the crate they thought was airline approved was an inch too short or some other small thing.

    You can also talk to your vet about cat sedatives, although I don't know how long they last or if they would be wise on airplanes.
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    We shipped to cats from Austin, back to their birth father in Richmond, last year. We had to drop them off at the freight terminal. They had to have a certain size cage, food, and water. They cried the whole way to the airport, and I cried (even though they are not my fave animals in the world) because they were so sad sounding. They don't allow them to be sedated.

    Their BF said they adjusted pretty well after a few days. THey had been left at FI's apartment by his best friend when she moved 3 years earlier, but I'm allergic and he hates cleaning the litter and hair, so we sent them to her ex-boyfriend as soon as we bought a house.

    So shipping them through the freight system might be better than hearing them cry the whole time on the plane.
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    I can't believe it's so much more expensive to park in Chicago than it is in LA.  But I'd also never be caught anywhere in the US without a car. lol :D  Okay here (though not ideal) but I'd do it in Sweden because the system is SO much better than in the US.
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    edited March 2010
    Oh, parking in LA isn't expensive. Most people have driveways or parking areas (we have a big, tandem spot for 2 cars - there are 9 spots total in the back of our property). Parking is only expensive if you go out to the trendy areas and pay to leave your car in a lot. And then, just in Hollywood. Downtown, too, but that's really easily accesible by subway so I never drive downtown. But you don't have to pay for monthly parking just to park your car near your house. Usually.

    Kati, FI's sister had to move her 2 cats from CA to Boston a few years ago. She took them to the vet the day before so he could do blood work and give her sedativee, which she gave them in the morning. FFIL booked the flight and rather than a direct flight he gave them one with a layover in Charlotte. Which was stressful (FI was flying with FSIL) but the cats were okay.

    Now, if we move to NC or Boston, we might have to drive. I would seriously consider flying the cats out first or after driving there myself because 4 days+ in a car with cats is not my idea of a good time...
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    Yeah we've always had parking included with our rent here.  In Chicago it is an extra $250 a month, so between that, insurance, and car payments we'd save $1000 or so a month by not having cars.  Mery, that is good to know, we'll have to talk to the airline and our vet to get all the info.  I've also found a few pet moving services online which look promising, we'll just have to see how expensive they are.  I suppose we could also look into renting a car and driving out with the cats, but like you said three days in the car with the cats does not sound so fun.
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    I flew with my sister's cat once.  I gave him a few drops of baby benadryl and he slept through the whole thing.  I think I flew on AA, and they let me carry him on, but it was instead of a carry on bag.  I wasn't comfortable with him being checked.  The people at the security check were morons, though.  They wanted me to put him through the metal detector.  They refused to swipe the cage, so I had to take him out and carry him through the walk way and put the cage through with our stuff.  I was so scared he was going to freak out and try to run away.  

    One thing that really annoyed me was people.  Everywhere I went, people were talking to him and putting their fingers in the cage and stuff.  He's a mellow cat and he was sedated, but still, that's going to freak him out.  If I ever had to do it again, I would get one of those fabric carriers that looks like a duffel bag and doesn't have the metal things.  
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    CellesCelles member
    Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited March 2010
    I think there's a feline behavioralist on the board; maybe she'll chime in?  :)

    I'm not a professional, but I did volunteer for several years for a local rescue that had me ferrying cats between our shelter in downtown Phoenix and several Petsmart adoption centers.  In my experience, every cat is different: some will go quietly into their carriers, but wail for the entire duration of a trip.  Others fight tooth and nail going in, but quiet down as soon as a vehicle is in motion.

    For me, the absolute WORST was a red tabby named Peanut Butter who always, always soiled his carrier.  (Somewhere out there is a little black Ford Escort -- sitting in a scrap heap and STILL REEKING because of that damn cat!)

    One thing I would really recommend doing is acclimating the cats to their carriers gradually, over the course of several weeks or months.  Start with putting them in the carriers at home, for a few minutes at a time.  You could even try feeding them  there, with the doors open, so they get used to going freely in and out before you start locking them in for short periods of time.  Work your way up from a few minutes to a half hour to an hour or more, and eventually to taking short drives, such as around the block.  The cats willl get used to it, eventually, and you'll get a better idea of what to expect on a plane ride and if something like sedation (which some vets recommend, but I don't know enough about to comment on) is necessary.
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    One thing I would really recommend doing is acclimating the cats to their carriers gradually, over the course of several weeks or months.  Start with putting them in the carriers at home, for a few minutes at a time.  You could even try feeding them  there, with the doors open, so they get used to going freely in and out before you start locking them in for short periods of time.  Work your way up from a few minutes to a half hour to an hour or more, and eventually to taking short drives, such as around the block.  The cats willl get used to it, eventually, and you'll get a better idea of what to expect on a plane ride and if something like sedation (which some vets recommend, but I don't know enough about to comment on) is necessary.

    This is a really good idea.  They rarely ever get in their carriers, so getting them used to them would make them less scared.  What is your opinion on one carrier versus two for the two cats?  I know they are a little less scared when they are together, but is it better for them to be in their own carriers?
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    Also make sure the carrier is big enough. If they can move a little they are going to be much more comfortable and quieter.

    You may have to check with the airline about 2 cats in 1 carrier. I believe some won't allow that because of the chance of injury or escape (if someone opens the cage and one darts out)
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    I've flown with my cats twice (SF to DC and DC to Vegas) and had little difficulty.  We paid the extra fee to carry them on board in soft carriers that fit under the seats ahead of us.  The vet had told us to keep some Dramamine on hand in case the cats got nervous and use the childrens dosage.  They actually slept the whole time and were very well behaved.

    As long as they're used to being in a carrier, you probably won't have any issues.  Double check with your vet and make sure their shots are up to date, I remember having to show the immunization records at the airline check-in.
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    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_moving-pets?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:d7e04499-bd7d-4c97-b3a3-20abfbfdc034Post:94c0361d-4b5f-4ffb-a188-651e517c70b4">Re: Moving with Pets</a>:
    [QUOTE]What is your opinion on one carrier versus two for the two cats?  I know they are a little less scared when they are together, but is it better for them to be in their own carriers?
    Posted by Kati0105[/QUOTE]

    The airline might require that they be separated.  It's probably a good idea to separate them anyway, especially if you decide not to sedate them.  My cats get along fairly well... but if they're stressed, it's not all that unusual for them to take swipes at each other.  I'd be nervous about a fight breaking out and not being able to separate them. 

    I flew United Airlines with my little Brussels Griffon as a carry on, and the airline was very specific about not being able to take her out for any reason once the plane was in the air.  She was a puppy at a time and had a very smelly accident in her crate.  Fortunately, it was while the plane was still boarding so I was able to take her back up to the terminal and clean up.  I imagine that would have been a very unpleasant flight for my fellow passengers otherwise!
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    ggmaeggmae member
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    I have never flown with a pet, but my Henry cried throughout the entire drive from TN to CT. I wanted to kick his butt - so annoying! I hope you can figure out a plan that works!
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    I just flew with my cat about 500 miles plus a one hour drive on each end. He normally cries in the car and I was very worried. Once through security (they made me take him out and carry him in my arms through the metal detectors) he was just fine. Not a peep on the plane or in the car home. I flew delta and they do require you to notify them ahead of time because there is limited space in cabin and it's $100.
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    I flew with two 8 week old rat terriers. Because of the size (less than a pound each) and age of the puppies, they let me keep them in one cage, but I would separate the two cats because the airline approved carriers are smaller than what I normally crate my dogs in.

    I also think there is a pet weight limit, but I doubt you would have to worry about that with cats.

    You do have to remove the cats through airport security, and carry them through the metal detectors if they are being carried on, so if you think they would freak out and try to escape in the airport, then I would check them.

    Good luck. I think it was about $100 to carry the dogs, but I only had to pay for one dog because of size. On the flight I was on, you could have one animal per person with a maximum of 2 animals per flight.
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    danieliza1127danieliza1127 member
    5 Love Its First Comment Combo Breaker
    edited March 2010
    I didn't read all of the responses, so sorry if I'm repeating. 

    When we moved from FL to IN, we talked to the vet and got sedatives for our cat.  It worked out really well for us.  He slept most of the 20 hour drive.  Sometimes he would wake up and cry, but if I talked to him he would just go back to sleep.

    ETA: My best friend lived in Chicago for 5 years without a car.  Public transportation there is awesome and easy to use.  She also had a bike and used that a lot too.
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