Tranquilizing cats for long flights

47 posts in this topic

Posted

Hi everyone!

 

I did a search before posting this question and couldn’t find a similar topic. If one exists, please feel free to merge.

 

I am writing because we are (99.9% likely) moving back to the States this fall. The thing about the move that is causing me the most anxiety at the moment is how to transport our cats. I want to do this in the most humane, sensitive way possible.

 

I would really like to bring the kitties in the cabin with us, but want to do this respectfully and not bother the passengers around us. (We will be with a toddler, so the odds are already stacked against us anyway!) My 2-year-old cat has been on short car trips with us before and does not do well - howls and whines horribly and paces in his carrier the whole time. The kitten (6 months old) hasn’t been in a car yet, so I don’t know how she will react. Regardless, it seems like giving them some sort of tranquilizer will be necessary. I want them to be as comfortable as possible, as well as make sure the other people on the flight are not bothered by us.

 

However when I Googled tranquilizing cats for flights, there were some very negative opinions about it out there. I don’t want to do anything that might hurt my kitties, but obviously need to make this a smooth (as possible) travel day, too. Since we are moving to the western United States, this will entail 3 flights total - a 9.5 hour flight over the ocean and then 2 more flights once we are Stateside (about 4 hours and 2 hours each) – plus layovers in between. It will be a very long day.

 

So, I would like to know if any of you have experience traveling internationally with your cats – and if so, how you dealt with it. Do any of you have experiences (positive or negative) tranquilizing cats? Any side effects or big dangers I should watch out for? Is it possible to dose them more than once since we will be traveling over such a long period of time? Were there any other things you did to make the flights go more smoothly? Also, what did you do about the litter situation?

 

We also have the option of stopping after the 9.5 hour flight, spending a few days with my parents to decompress, and then continuing on. I’m not sure if this rest would do us good or if it would be better to just push on all at once. Any thoughts on this?

 

Also, my mom, my toddler, and I will be traveling together first while my husband wraps up things at the house and then he will join us a few weeks later. The possibility exists of my mom and I just taking one of the cats with us when we go first and then having my husband bring the other cat with him when he comes later. On one hand, this would make it easier on us. But I hate the idea of splitting up the kitties. They are great friends and I think would be anxious without the other one.

 

Anyway, I would love to hear people’s thoughts, opinions, and/or experiences on all of this. I’m sure some of you have been through this before or have heard of people who have. Any input on this will be greatly welcomed.

 

Thanks in advance, TT!

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Posted

I know I am committing a TT crime by bumping this thread. Sorry! Hopefully including this cute picture of the kitties in question will help redeem my sin. ;-)

 

Does anyone have opinions/advice on tranquilizing cats for travel and/or hints for flying with them internationally?

 

Thanks in advance!

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Posted

You should visit your vet and have a talk with him. Maybe there might be a herbal thing that relaxes them. When we drive the 5 hours to the inlaws with my two cats, we give them some kind of liquid sedative. It doesnt knock them out completely, and they still make a massive racket with their yowling. but at least they arent 5 hours constant noise making. You could also put something that smells like you in their box with them. I know that for dogs you can get a pheremone spray type thing that calms and destresses the dogs, maybe there is something like that for cats that would be safer to use over a long length of time while travelling the 15 hours or so that your gonna be travelling

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Posted

I know for dogs sedatives are not recommended when flying because it can affect their ability to regulate their body temperature (since they don't sweat, and must pant to cool themselves). My vet would not prescribe anything when I shipped my dog over here, and told me his recommendation was that I should not give her anything. Especiallly since it would be an 8 hour flight where checking on her would not be an option.

 

I believe cats cool themselves by the same method as dogs (sorry, didn't check this so not sure) ?

 

Anyways, talk to your vet and see what they say.

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Posted

The last time I faced this question was five years back, flying with Continental (now United), and their policy was quite clear: The cat must not be sedated. I say this not to state a general principle or scientific opinion, but to point out that the choice may not even be yours to make. You should check with your airline first.

 

Our cat came out with a urinary tract infection from holding it in. Unfortunate, but quite easy to deal with.

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Posted

Thanks to everyone for your help and input!

 

Fraufruit, that link was great! I'm not sure how I missed it. It had a lot of helpful info.

 

The reason I wanted to hear TT's opinion(s) on this is because I've already got conflicting information from various sources - and I trust your collective experience more than yahoo. answers or whatever else comes up when I Google. ;-) I know a lot of you have firsthand experience with this and are a well-traveled, well-informed bunch. (Plus, a lot of you are "cat people", too!)

 

I have talked to one vet already, but she was super casual about giving me sedatives. She is an old friend of mine and even said that she would mail them to me so I didn't have to jump through any hoops. She didn't seem to consider the risks a big deal - but I know enough from reading a bit online that they exist. (Although who knows how exaggerated they may be?) My local vet is a lovely woman and I do plan to talk to her about this, but I'm not sure I 100% trust her opinion either. She is a sweetheart, but truly a space cadet and a bit of a slacker. I'm not sure she would be the best resource for this kind of "unusual" (to her) question. (She is a part-time, local neighborhood type of vet.) I used to go to an excellent, more serious vet, but their office is an hour away through city traffic and would be tough to manage with my toddler and now the second cat.

 

These are both good vets and good people, but I think "international air travel with pets" falls out of the average range of experience for most people. We ex-pats are a different sort of bunch!

 

I will definitely check with my airline, as well. (Well, I'm not sure which one I will use yet, but when I do.)

 

If they are allowed, I would just love to find something that will take take the edge off but not make them zombies. And definitely do a test run at home first.

 

If anyone else has any thoughts or links to resources, I'd love to hear it, too. I am soaking up all your knowledge!

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Posted

The stuff I used on my cats was something like 15 ml for a large tom cat, and 10 for my small female. It took the edge off their stress. Tho I did carry my tom in a blanket on my lap most of the time because he was too big to lie comfortably in his box. Sam (my small female) was grumpy and more just scratched at her box door than anything else. This tranqualiser lasted the whole journey (5 hours) and then when they got to the inlaws/home. they drunkenly walked around and were back to normal after about 2 hours. Maybe you could ask about something like that for the last part of your journey. Our vet told us to just give them more as needed, so I think it isnt that dangerous. Im sorry tho, I dont rememeber the name of it.

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Posted

I will ask my vet if she knows what that could be - and try a test run at home first to make sure it doesn't make them too "druggy". Thanks so much for your input!

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Posted

I agree with Lisa. My parents' vet recommended transporting them in cargo for the very reason of noise and light. The airline (I don't remember anymore which one) forbids tranquilizing any pets it transports. For transporting with cargo, you must have a cage that fits their specifications. It must be big enough that they can stand and a place for a litter box and a water bowl.

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Posted

I brought my american cat with me here, she is still here and annoying as fuck...

 

I was going to bring her in the cabin with me. She meowed the whole car ride to the airport with my mom. I said fucked this, told them at the counter I changed my mind and wanted to put her in the cargo hold. Tempature regulated all is good. Saved my sanity and the other passengers.

 

Though when I picked her up in Hamburg she was quiet, the whole 2.5 hours to Rostock quiet. It was great...Don't ask me how humane that was, all I know is that I didn't go insane hearing meow every 5 seconds.

 

Public Service announcemnt: My cat is 9 years old and has been her the whole 6 years. STill the same old cat no trauma...and she still gets on my nerves...mental note...no more cats

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Posted

I had two cats who were great travellers, more like dogs. This is unusual. I have heard from many vets that giving cats tranquilizers can be dangerous. I did it once with my two with a vet who suggested using them and it had a paradoxical effect and they got totally hyped up. This was only time i had problems with them. They usually flew under my seat, however even though i adored these two cats so so much, it is better for them and for you to have them fly cargo. The fear of them dying due to cargo losing its air supply is so so rare and of course i also worried about this but still better as the chances are as rare as being hit by lightning. Reason i say this is can be more stressful in cabin. Once my seat assignment was next to some woman who was allergic to cats and this was so awful as plane was full and ...well...use your imagination.

 

I have a really horrible problem with my cat. I rescued him and he had been severely emotionally abused as a young kitten and had been brought back to shelter four times after those people had adopted him but he was such a problem cat that they cound not stand it.

 

I almost tossed him out the things this cat did like pissing on my hair when i slept and just destroying my home. But finally he is a good and well behaved cat and trusts ME...and only ME...i dont care put him in a carrier. It would take many people to get him in and he would freak like you have no idea. My vet is just one flight of stairs above me and i thought this was great and i picked him up which he is fine with and opened my door to the INSIDE of my small buidling no one around no noise no nothing but this he freaked the moment i walked one step out the door. This is how scared he is and somehow me and the vet got him up to her office for his shots but after that we let him go out on his own (he loves going outside and is smart and always comes home and it is safe here for him to go out). But as i said i dont know what i would do if for some reason i had to relocate much farther than greater Munich as he would SUFFER emotionally so much. And cant take him to any shelter for two reasons one is that NO ONE would have the patience to endure a couple months of total destruction so he would never be re homed. Second since he gets so much love from me and he trusts me for me to abandon him would be too cruel. It of course is nuts to feel i must remain here for the rest of HIS life as he could easily live another 15 years. I have been thinking of attempting to train him gradually to be ok in a carrier and to allow me to carry him out side. and this is the only solution as otherwise I would need to have my vet kill him. I really do not think i would handle that well. He is a beautiful cat. Those people who torture animals should be tortured the same way.

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Posted

I have carried my cat many times on flights. She used to simply hate it, I adopted her as an adult and she had been in the shelter for quite a while and she had odd behavior at times.

With age she seems to be actually doing better. She still don't like being taken out of her carrier at security (long story with X-Ray please refrain from howling in revolt), but by now she simply follows me on the leach a sits down quietly while I put the carrier back together.

During the flight I normally put the door away from the cabin so she sees very little (I take her in the cabin, even if she serenades me normally the noise of the plane should cover it).

 

I also use 'feliway' which is supposed to help.

 

I can not sedate her as neither her kidneys nor her liver could handle it but she travels ok, we have gone through unplanned overnight stay and eventful connecting flights and the biggest problem has been that I had to give her a bath in the Frankfurt bathroom sink :)

 

One thing I'll say: Take some food for 48h with you, get you cat used to the carrier leave it open with a confortable blanket for a few days get him in and out.

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Posted

Curious as to why you had to give her a bath?

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Posted

Unfortunate shit+vomit+pee incident due to trying to get my connecting flight even though the wheels of my carriers suddenly decided to stop working.

There is now a sign in the Frankfurt Bathroom saying that the sink is only meant to wash hand. ^^

 

Yes you can feel sorry for her this was unpleasant. She eventually forgave me.

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Posted

 

I would really like to bring the kitties in the cabin with us, but want to do this respectfully and not bother the passengers around us.

 

One thing you might not have though of is the possibility that some of your fellow passengers might be allergic to cats.

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Posted

Yes, Chuck, I am worried about that, too. (If my fellow passengers are allergic.) I have covers for both of their cases though and they will stay under the seat the whole time, so I hope their dander will be contained.

 

When I first wrote this question, it was a hypothetical - but things have progressed and now it's really happening. I still can't believe it. (I've been in Europe for almost 10 years now.) We leave next Monday (Dec. 2), are planning to stop for the night in Chicago after the first leg of the trip (10 hour flight) and then continue on (2 more flights) the next day. It will be me, my mom and my toddler traveling together - my husband joining us later.

 

Both my local vet and a friend of mine from home who is a vet, too, are strongly encouraging me to give the cats a sedative called acepromazine. They said it is very gentle and will make it a better flight for them, but want me to do a test run at home first with the kitties having an empty stomach. I still haven't gotten around to it since I have been so busy preparing for the move … and also because my feelings on sedating them are still so mixed.

 

I know the feelings here on the subject have been mostly in the "don't do it" category, but I am very conflicted because I have these two vets I know and trust strongly telling me to do it. I am going to give it a lot of thought this week - and promise to update the thread later on and let you know how it panned out. I'm sure other people who may read this one day may be wondering the same things I am about all of this.

 

By the way, the feliway spray is a great idea, too. Thanks, quietlaugh! I used it when I moved with the older cat and it seemed to help. Good idea.

 

Thanks again for everyone's thoughts and contributions!

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Posted

 

Unfortunate shit+vomit+pee incident due to trying to get my connecting flight even though the wheels of my carriers suddenly decided to stop working.

There is now a sign in the Frankfurt Bathroom saying that the sink is only meant to wash hand. ^^

 

Yes you can feel sorry for her this was unpleasant. She eventually forgave me.

 

"No washing your pussy in the sink. It is only for hands."

 

Yeah, I can understand that, the flight is stressful and a lot of cats vomit when stressed.

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