Travels With Kitty. Little Cat Sat Beside Me in the Airplane
Have Cat, Will Travel.
Pets are for Keeps
I am here to tell the tale of my Emerald Kitty Kitty’s airplane cabin trip to the mainland of the United States and onward to Canada. Luckily for me, she had a two month layover before the second leg of the trip so she could get her sassy nature in fine shape again.
In my hub, Kitty Leaving on a Jet Plane I opined, whined, and worried over how I would get E.K. Kitty through the security process at the Maui airport en route to Arizona. Turned out, I hadn't worried enough. It was worse than I feared.
The veterinarian on Maui gave me a sedative to administer to Kitty an hour before we were to leave for the airport. The pill was cut in half so it wouldn’t render Kitty immobile, but would calm her substantially. I was very nervous all morning about being able to get the pill into Kitty’s mouth. It was important not to scare Kitty or get her anxious because the sedative would not work then. It would have the opposite effect since its ingredient worked on the hormones that cause the animal to want to sprint to safety.
Somethin's Up. What's Going On?
How Not to Take a Cat On Board the Airplane
When the moment arrived to give Kitty her half-portion sedative I practiced slow, deep breathing before approaching her. But she was already wise to the fact her whole world was turning upside down. She hadn’t been allowed out of the house all morning.
I couldn’t ask my husband for help as he would have obliterated all hope of success with his anxiety, so I had to make do with only two hands. I scruffed Kitty, held her chin, quickly and gently opened her mouth, pushed the pill in and blew at her face. She swallowed it! What a relief. Then I tried to get her into the soft-sided cat carrier. She backed out, scared. I used my most reassuring voice to stop her from getting her hormones flying wildly. I could not imagine going on this trip with Kitty if she wasn’t partially sedated. Determined, I stuffed her in the bag, grabbed my purse and walked out to the car. Within seconds of placing Kitty in the vehicle and closing the door, Kitty had pushed her head through the bottom opening of the zipper. I had supposed the zipper would stay closed. There are zippers on both ends of the cat carrier and one on the left side, so she had three zippers to escape through if I didn’t come up with a quick solution. My husband wouldn’t stop the car as he is one of these people who like to get to an airport hours and hours before a flight. Due to this habit of his, I knew it would be 12 hours before we arrived in Arizona and drove to the residence where I could safely let Kitty out of the carrying bag and introduce her to a new cat litter box. She was going to need to hold fluids and solids within her body for 12 hours. She had dutifully used her catbox before we departed.
Getting a Cat Through Security at the Airport
I held tightly onto the bag as Kitty threw her weight into the bag at every angle. I dug into my purse. I came up with six coated elastics which I frantically tied, double-knotted, onto each adjoining zipper so there was no way Kitty could break out. She was meowing loudly, telling me I had betrayed her beyond belief.
It took a half hour to get to the airport and get the luggage checked in. I carried my 10 pound cat, one-pound cat carrier and eight pound purse as far as I could. I was sweating.
Dear Husband doesn’t like any added attention so he went ahead of me in the security line. When I placed my purse onto the tray, took off my shoes and looked toward the Security Agent, I supposed the agent would be helpful – and perhaps even not make me take my precious cat out of her safe environment. Yes, I’m a dreamer. Sometimes it pays off. But no, the agent hurried over and said, “What have you got here?”
“A cat -- and she’s very frightened.”
“Take her out of the bag so I can check the bag, “ he commanded.
That’s when things got bad. I had supposed if worse came to worst, I would un-tie the elastics and pick up my Kitty. I had placed a collar on her before we left so I’d have something to grab if she tried to escape from my arms. But the elastics would not un-tie. I had double-knotted them and they were secure. Kitty was not as frantic as she would have been if she had not been sedated, but still she was scared and meowing softly for help. Meanwhile, about fifty people had gotten into line and were waiting for me to get this ordeal over with. The security agent said he would get some scissors. He disappeared. Moments went by. Minutes went by. Kitty was trying every move she knew to escape from the cloth bag. The line behind me was growing longer. Frustrated people were trying to look polite.
My Kitty was Not Calm Like This in the Security Line at the Airport
The security agent finally returned with scissors and ripped through one of the elastics. I grabbed Kitty just as she tried to squeeze through and jump for freedom. I held onto her and bore my eyeballs into the agent’s eyes as he did not seem in any hurry to do whatever he thought was so important to do with regard to the empty soft-sided cat carrier. Finally he walked back to the cat carrier, glanced into it and then he threw it lightly to me. Well, Mister, I’m trying to hold onto my cat. And where was my husband? Hello? For better, for worse, where are you? Sweat was pouring off me by this time. And I’d become so hungry from the stress that I could hardly think straight. I got myself and Kitty to the end of the security area and tried to call over the din of noise as my husband gingerly ascended the escalator. I yelled loud and repeatedly until everyone in the area could hear – except apparently – him. Someone nudged him on the escalator and he regained consciousness, ran down the moving stairs and came to my side. (This is the way I remember it. He does not.) It took the skill of both of us to open the raggedy bag and place terrified little Kitty into it. People were everywhere. It was mayhem.
We boarded the plane hours later. Kitty was nicely sedated by then. I had placed a towel over the mesh of the cat carrier so she could not see out of her enclosure. She slept from Maui to Honolulu. We had a two-hour layover in Honolulu. Kitty slept while we ate in a restaurant. She meowed once in a while, but went back to sleep.
The vet had told me the sedative would only work for about six hours. There was no way I was going to open the cat carrier and try to give her another half of sedative once we were on the plane to Phoenix, Arizona. I could lose her on the plane. The sedative did begin to wear off an hour into the flight to Phoenix, but I had her positioned under the seat ahead, a towel over her carrier, and my left foot under the towel so she could see it was me there with her. She meowed softly a few times. My husband mentioned several times he would not sit with me if Kitty defecates. Kitty has very good manners, I am happy to report.
So we made it to the Phoenix airport by midnight and enjoyed a family reunion at the airport. By the time we gathered our luggage and drove all the way to the nether-reaches of Metro Phoenix, Kitty was in great discomfort, but she made it all the way. At her new abode, she caught sight of the new cat box before I got the zippers of her carrier unzipped. She jumped out of her warm enclosure and purringly jumped into the catbox.
What an ordeal. I rested for two months.
Kitty played hide and seek the first week in her new digs. Mostly she hid. Soon she prowled around the house at night. Before long she was hanging out with the resident dogs, Tika, Hansen and Zsa Zsa. She was showing her dominance to the two cats while practicing her stalking of the two birds. Kela Bird taught her Birds Rule.
Flying with Kitty from the U.S. to Canada
When the date arrived for our departure from Arizona to Canada, I felt the familiar butterflies in my stomach. An hour before we were to leave for the airport, I attempted to give a half of the appropriate sedative to Kitty. She knew all morning what was up. She saw me packing suitcases until 3:00 a.m. and she was ready for me. She slithered out of my grasp and eluded all my attempts to catch her. I finally admitted defeat and called my (adult) daughter to come into the bedroom to help me. Dear Daughter is studying to be a vet. She is very animal-savvy. Still, she didn’t really want to ‘pill’ my cat because -- as she put it -- it had taken her almost five years to gain Emerald Kitty Kitty’s trust. Now she was going to blow it in five seconds. (E. K. Kitty is like a Burmese cat in that she is a one-person feline. It is rare for Emerald to trust another person.)
Time was running out. We had an hour’s drive to the airport ahead of us. My daughter got hold of Kitty, ‘pilled’ her and helped us out to the car.
This time everything went very well. I had the elastics, double-tied, on each zipper. I had Kitty’s Health Certificate for entrance into Canada. I felt empowered because I believed I could do this alone. No husband along this time and only a five hour trip ahead. That was fine and good until we had parked the car at the airport and started walking to the ticketing area. I started to worry. Panic is more the word. My daughter would not be allowed into the Security area. I pictured losing my cat in this huge airport and nobody caring. What do you do after you lose your cat at the airport? Do you just go home and think, “Oh well.” Do you camp out and become a homeless person there until your cat shows up? I think probably the latter.
Hyperventilating, Kitty and Me
My daughter told me she wouldn’t leave the airport until she could see I was safely through Security with Kitty in hand. I started to hyperventilate a little after Priscilla left. A very nice young Security person named Janine helped me through Security. She was very concerned about our not losing the cat. She was efficient and helpful. She helped me put Kitty back into the cat carrier after she verified the emptiness of it. I shall forever like the name Janine.
Dear daughter phoned me as I left the security area. She had been watching through a window and knew all was well.
The flight to Saskatchewan had an hour’s layover in Denver. The airport was very cold. There are 93 gates for United Airlines at the Denver airport. I carried my Emerald Kitty Kitty a long ways and then I limped onto the moving walkway. Kitty was still sedated, so I stopped for a hearty sandwich and just made it in time to the gate for final boarding.
On board the flight from Denver, toward Saskatchewan, was noisy, dark and cold.
I asked the plane's steward if I may put my cat on the seat beside me after take-off. The drafts at my feet were so cold: Kitty had to be freezing. The steward replied with a nod that it is standard procedure for items to be allowed on the seat after take off, once the seat belt light is turned off.
Emerald Kitty Kitty and I flew, sitting pretty, into Canadian airspace as the clock turned midnight. The planned six-month visit, just blocks from my parents' home, would hold good times and abounding love. Now was not the time to picture the hardship Kitty had yet to endure when we returned to the United States in six months, once again by plane. We would make it work.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Pamela Dapples