Another twist to an old question...flying with pets!
I need to take my cat to the states in August. Normally no problem with the heat restriction, as she can go as carry on. Well, not that easy....my cat is not, shall we say, socialized. I am terrified of taking her out of the carrier to go through security. We might be OK with that since our vet gave us a special leash and instructions on how to carry her, but the problem is getting her back into the carrier.
Any helpful tips appreciated, but the real reason for the post is to ask about a "safe room" at the airport. Dr. Hess suggested we could take her into a room and let TSA do their thing with her and the carrier, then we could get her back in, in a more relaxed atmosphere. I have asked one TSA person and one airline rep, and they both said no such thing as a safe room. There is a private screening room, but I don't know how contained that is or if that is an option.
She can go pet cargo on Continental out of San Juan, but now that the seaplane takes off at the airport, there isn't a commercial option from STX to SJU, without going through security. Is there?? I guess I'll be calling private companies tomorrow. Anyone want to share a private plane to San Juan, (or FL if not too cost prohibitive) in August?
Have any of you ever traveled with a problem pet? How did you handle it? Everything I read, and our vet, are against tranquilizers.
Trip before last I caused some kind of alarm to go off during my usual pat down (artificial knees) and I had to go into a room for private screening. The door to this room is just beyond the scanners, STX. It looks like a cross between a storage room and a doctors exam room. Pretty small. I think it would be a perfect place to take the cat out, and, more importantly, to get her back in.
I assume TSA would let you hand her to someone while still in the carrier; you go thorugh the machine and then take her into the room so that they can examine the carrier.
Although some vets and owners like to avoid tranquilizers, maybe this time the benefit of using a tranquilizer outweighs the risk.
To get kitty back in the carrier, try covering her eyes with your hand so she doesn't know what you're doing. Remove your hand when she's in.
I would try to make carry-on work. It's the easiest option.
also, a slightly larger crate, not much bigger, but big enough to put the cat in regardless of the pose it freezes in. and cover it with a sheet or towel before you put it in, so it will feel like it is in a dark, safe place and be less likely to bolt out as you withdraw your hand. Good luck. Weat leather gloves if you can. If you get bitten, please seek medical attention ASAP. Neosporin will not cut it. Cat bites and scratches can be deadly if they are deep and untreated.
Years ago, they made us take each of our cats out of their carriers - right there on the line and it was epic! Our normally placid black cat went nuts and had the most horrendous anxiety "squirts" all over the conveyor belt, the x ray machine and the very angry security b*tch that caused the whole mess. She started screaming like a banshee - yanked off her plastic gloves - swore at us and ran off - I think another woman employee started retching and had to run away too..
We got the cat back in the crate -yeuugh - and then we all stood there waiting for her to come back or someone else to come out - 10 minutes later, we all just went on into the lounge - no one came to get us back and we all got on the plane to Puerto Rico and left.
PS I washed the cat in the sink in the waiting room - that went well - NOT!!!!
It really depends on who you talk to, whether they'll allow it or not. When I brought my little guy down, the people at Charlotte had no problem with holding him while I walked through the scanners, then taking him into a private room to take him out of his carrier. When the people at Miami decided I'd been walking around the airport too long (wtf?) and made me go back through security, they gave me all kinds of hassle about it and told me that if I couldn't handle my cat in an airport, I shouldn't have brought him. I would just ask when you get there and see.
Just flew last October from STT to Tampa with my cat. Although small, she becomes like the wild bushcat she truly is when in her crate (I know from my month of trying to get her used to being in the crate, driving her around in the car, vet visit, etc)....she yowled louder than anything I EVER thought could come out of her, and she tried to claw and bite her way out of the carrier. I had read awful stories of drugging your pet (cats/dogs), how bad it is for them, etc, however, when faced with her having to be in the crate for 9 hours, having a layover in FLL,and the potential she had for sounding like a she-Devil, I decided to go for the meds. I am SO happy I did!! I had to take her out of the crate for security in STT (had her in a harness and had a leash on, just in case she tried to bolt), walk with her through the scanner, stuff her back into the bag (I did have a nice gentleman hold the bag open while I put her in) and she didn't make a sound until we were boarding the other plane from FLL to Tampa. By the time we arrived in Tampa, I had another hour with her in the car to get to the final destination. At that point, she was out of her drugged state so I let her out of the bag to roam around the cab of the truck (still had her leash on though so she wouldn't crawl under something). We did the reverse trip not long ago, did the same thing and all is well. I understand your concern, believe me, and know every pet is different, but in my case, the meds were brilliant!! And, she is only about 7.5 pounds, 6 years old, from the bush 🙂
It depends on personality, but using a soft-sided, top-loading carrier bag can make a world of difference in your cat having a good travel experience. It's easier to get a cat into a bag like that. Not sure if you have time to order, but I got mine online. Maybe have a towel available on the other side of the metal detector to wrap her up in, for an easier transfer into the crate? Private screening area may help; can't hurt to ask TSA how they can help you -- they don't want kitty drama, either. Poor girl.
Good luck; I empathize. I fly with my cat somewhat frequently, but he's a peach -- people usually don't even realize I have a cat in my bag. Couldn't imagine flying anywhere with his sister, who is a tiny little dictator and makes Exorcist-style noises when you try to make her do something she doesn't want to. :-X
OK, Juanita here's my recent story. We have two cats. One a mellow loveball and one a Crucian BUSH cat. I elected to go for the meds with wildchild. Unfortunately, the morning we had to leave, the cat went feral on us as we tried to give her the pill. I ended up BLOODY and then she bit her own tongue and was gushing blood. There was NO way I could take that cat through TSA. We had to leave her in STX with my brother. When you pass through the xray area they are going to ask you to remove them as your carrier must be scanned. My wife always said imagine the person that works for TSA that has to go after escaped cats like these in an airport! What a job that would be!! Your vet can prescribe a low dose so it should be safe for the cat. In fact Casey gave us a dose that he said we might not even notice. We did not have to use it for the lovechild.
Here is what Casey suggested as an option for a cat like yours. Put your cat in a secure bag, like a lobster dive bag, then put the cat and bag into your carrier. When you get to the TSA screen area, open your carrier and just carry your cat and bag through with you as the carrier is screened. When you come out the other side, unzip the bag and put her back into the carrier. Probably you can use the safe room at this point. This may be an option for you. I would DEF go the carry on route!
If your cat is going to be a nervous, miserable wreck for the whole trip I would suggest the meds
Just an FYI, since this is always a topic of interest.
It is possible to still fly your pet as baggage with the seaplane, Seaborne Airlines from VI to San Juan. So, you can go in and out of San Juan via Continental, with climate controlled pet facilities. You can only fly through hub locations, however, so that means you usually have to go through Newark, NJ, which is a pain if going to FL, but at least it's an option.
Seaborne does not have a heat restriction, but I would still go for the early morning flight, just for the comfort and safety of the pet.
We're still going to try carry on, but thought this info might help if you have an animal too large to carry.
I know you can only take on so much fluid (3 oz.) with you on the plane, but you may want to pre-soak some (lots of) wipes with Febreeze in a ziplock baggie, in case your cat goes splat.
Edit to add, along those lines, might want to consider withholding food for 12 hours prior to flight.