Flying to another place even on your own is quite the hassle. Add relocation of a pet on top of that and it becomes more complicated. Pets at a younger age are quite active so it is difficult to get them settled when flying. However, when it comes to senior pets, they are not only stressed about such situations but are prone to health problems as well.
If you have a senior cat, you will know that they have special requirements. They need specific care for what they eat and the environment they are living in. Therefore, it is not surprising that senior or elderly cat owners can become apprehensive when flying with them.
An elderly cat is slow in terms of energy and may have certain health problems. However, with a few precautions, you can relocate them safely whether you are taking a short trip or flying long distance.
In this blog post, we provide you with a few tips before you put your elderly cat on a plane:
Consultation with Your Vet
When you are planning to fly with your elderly cat, your first stop should be the vet. Consult the vet who has always been responsible for the medical care of your pet. A vet will be evaluating the mental and physical condition of the cat. Moreover, pets are required to have certain vaccinations before they travel. It is one of the requirements of major airlines to determine if the pet is fit. Most airlines will recommend that the pet should not travel and stay with a relative or a friend. However, if you can get your vet to declare the cat fit and vaccinated, the airlines will be much more cooperative.
This is an essential part of pet travel. Airlines use crates to keep the pets safe during travel. When it comes to senior cats, they like their freedom and won’t be happy with being confined. Moreover, they may get irritated if confined for long hours. Therefore, you should start training your elderly cat for sitting in a crate. The earlier you start, the more time your cat will have to adjust to the change. Crate training will be quite helpful as it can reduce the travel and separation anxiety for the elderly cat.
How to Crate Train the Cat
Most cats associate crates with traveling to the vet. Therefore, they are already apprehensive of the object. In order to make them used to it, leave the crate as an everyday object in a room or a place the cat frequents. The more the cat sees the crate, the more it will be familiar with it.
To attract the cat towards the crate, you can use toys, blankets and treats. Many cats love to form a cocoon for themselves and relax for hours. You can make a makeshift bed from a blanket inside the crate and leave toys to raise curiosity in the cat. If your cat takes the bait and gets comfortable, reward them with treats.
Don’t try to speed up the process. The cat will definitely take time to adjust. Therefore, be patient and wait for your cat to make progress. Your patience can result in even the most stubborn of cats to respond positively.
Once your cat starts frequenting the crate, it is time to take the training further. Start taking the cat in the crate for short trips in car. At first, keep the car rides shorter and calmer. Gradually, start lengthening the car journeys and take to busy roads so that your cat can become used to more people around during the travel.
You will not be able to feed your cat during the flying. The airlines don’t allow the pets to be taken out of the crates. Therefore, you have to feed them prior to boarding the plane. Consult your vet about how long before the flight the cat needs to be fed. The digestion process can take some time so few hours prior to the flying are required. This will prevent the elderly cat from having any motion sickness. Remember, don’t feed heavily.
Making the Cat Comfortable
No matter how hard you try to get your elderly cat get prepared for the travel, you still can’t eliminate their entire stress. They will be prepared for the situation but will not like the unfamiliarity of it all. Therefore, the more you can do to make them feel comfortable, the better the flying process will be. To make the environment familiar and comfortable, you can put their favorite blankets and toys in the crate they are traveling in. The familiar sight and scent will help them relax.
Lastly, certain paperwork or documents will be required if you are flying with your elderly cat. For this purpose, you can consult your vet and the airline you plan to travel with. They will be able to guide you on the pet import guidelines.
Time is Essential
If you plan to fly with your elderly cat, you must start the planning process as early as possible. You will have to complete many tasks and most of them require time. With enough time, you can get your cat crate trained effectively, have them vaccinated and declared fit for travel and complete the paperwork. In the end, more time means that both you and the elderly cat are prepared for the travel.
While traveling with pets is always difficult, taking care of elderly cats can be a bit more complex. Moreover, different cats can vary in nature. Therefore, you should plan according to what your cat may or may not like. Some people are lucky to have calm and relaxed cats but others are not so lucky. An elderly cat may not have enough energy to throw a tantrum but they can be quite aggressive if they suspect a threat to their safety. Therefore, plan thoroughly and carefully for a flying trip with your elderly feline.