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Best soft-sided carrier for air travel

MissPurryJess
August 3rd, 2006, 11:41 PM
Hi all!

I'm moving with my two cats this fall to Maryland (I live in CA). These kitties are my BABIES. Like, my children. And I refuse to be separated from them or let them be "shipped" or even ride in the underbelly of the plane. So they're traveling with my husband and myself. We've done the research on planes, which ones allow pets, the number of pets, etc. We'll reserve their spots under our seats along with ours, and pay the fee for their ride, etc. Since they have to come out of the carrier in the airport to go through security (luckily we live in Santa Barbara and the SB airport is tiny and very calm), we've bought them each a harness, and we practice at home with them wearing the harnesses and receiving treats for good behavior. They're such good babies!!! :angel: My vet has suggested a light sedative for them, and we'll be doing a "run-through" with the sedative at the vet's office and then at home to make sure they react well.

Now the last hurdle! I need the PERFECT carriers for them. We're going to fly on American Airlines (and their affiliate American Eagle), and their rules are as follows:

The maximum size for cabin pet carriers is 23" long x 13" wide x 9" high. A pet kennel counts as either a passenger's one carry-on bag or personal item.
Soft-sided pet carriers are accepted as long as they are constructed of water-repellent, padded nylon with mesh ventilation on two or more sides.


Any recommendations for perfect pet carriers? I was thinking Sherpa Pet carriers (but I'm not sure which ones), but I've heard some complaints about the quality of the mesh and the zippers. I want the babies to be perfectly comfortable and dry (I was thinking of bringing extra Puppy Pads to line the insides with), and safe, above all. They weigh about 8 pounds each, and I'll need two.

I'd love to hear your suggestions and recommendations! Thanks in advance!

badger
August 4th, 2006, 02:53 AM
In recommending a sedative, your vet is in the minority. Most now caution against it, since it intereferes with the animal's ability to regulate its own body temperature.
I sedated two cats who were flying cargo Montreal to Vancouver. Missed my flight (long story) and spent 24 hours with two stumbling, completely disoriented, unhappy animals. Never again.
Your cats will be with you in the cabin, which is already a huge reassurance for them.
I would use Rescue Remedy, beginning a good week before you leave.

MissPurryJess
August 4th, 2006, 11:54 AM
In recommending a sedative, your vet is in the minority. Most now caution against it, since it intereferes with the animal's ability to regulate its own body temperature.
I sedated two cats who were flying cargo Montreal to Vancouver. Missed my flight (long story) and spent 24 hours with two stumbling, completely disoriented, unhappy animals. Never again.
Your cats will be with you in the cabin, which is already a huge reassurance for them.
I would use Rescue Remedy, beginning a good week before you leave.

What is Rescue Remedy? Do you think this can be used in place of a sedative?

I think the main reason my vet wants to sedate the babies is because they've never flown before, and Daisy can get VERY vocal if she's apart from her brother. I have heard of nightmares with sedating, so we're doing a run-through here, and if I'm not comfortable with the results, I'll skip it for the flight. Would you mind sharing your story with me? I trust my vet, but I am a bit apprehensive with sedating because of the horror stories I've heard. :sad:

Do you think it makes a difference in how much sedative they're given? She wanted to do a 1/4 dosage or something along those lines, just to get them calm.

I'd really love more input on this.

LavenderRott
August 4th, 2006, 12:13 PM
I would not be comfortable using a soft sided carrier on an aircraft.

MissPurryJess
August 4th, 2006, 12:41 PM
Lavender -- Do you know of any hard-sided carriers that fit underneath the seat? I haven't come across any, and most of the airline websites talk about soft-sided carriers.

LavenderRott
August 4th, 2006, 12:51 PM
I know that I have seen some, but I can't remember where.

MissPurryJess
August 4th, 2006, 12:59 PM
Lavender -- Why wouldn't you be comfortable using a soft-sided carrier?

LavenderRott
August 4th, 2006, 02:06 PM
Because I am a worryer. Solid sides just seem a bit safer should something happen.

Puppyluv
August 4th, 2006, 02:10 PM
I would deffinately not sedate, and am suprised the vet wouyld reccomend it. If your boy is ver vocal and you have to give him something, at least leave your girl untampered with. A test run in the vet's office will not compare to the flight situation at all, and I would really look into it more before you sedate.

MissPurryJess
August 4th, 2006, 02:44 PM
Thank you for the input on sedation, guys. I appreciate the advice.

I did some reading on Rescue Remedy...is this proven safe? Is this a viable alternative to sedation?

I love these little guys more than life itself...so I want to make sure this goes as smoothly for them as possible.

Do you think that taking them out of their carriers in the airport will be a problem if they're not "relaxed" from either the sedative or something like Rescue Remedy? I'm worried they'll freak out and scratch and wiggle and hurt themselves. I'll have harnesses on them so I have something to grab onto, but I'm just so nervous about going through security.

jessi76
August 4th, 2006, 03:20 PM
I've never flown w/ animals, so I'm not the best for advice while in flight. but Rescue Remedy is all natural and it is proven safe. it is NOT a sedative though. It has natural extracts that "soothe" emotions. (fear, trauma, anxiety, etc...) It is an excellent suggestion though.

I would make them as comfortable as you can, and just make the best of it. I would put some worn items in the carriers w/ them. A worn t-shirt, a worn sweatshirt, a favorite blanket, etc... things that smell like YOU to reassure them.

wishing you & your cats a safe and happy trip!

Lissa
August 5th, 2006, 11:22 PM
I prefer soft-sided crates to metal or plastic BUT my cat figured out how to unzip the soft-sided crates almost immediately. So I have to agree that a plastic crate would probably be safer.

Or perhaps you can look into wicker ones? I am not sure if they would be smaller.

A cat breeder I knew, used these when flying show kittens (kept it under his seat)... But I am not sure if bigger adult cats would fit!
http://www.shoptony.com/petco/petmate-cabin-22047.html

With regards to sedation, I am not sure what I would do either. It's a personal choice - you know your pets and their comfort zone!

Good luck!:fingerscr

MissPurryJess
August 7th, 2006, 02:43 AM
Lissa -- Thanks for that link! I will definitely look into those.

I've heard that about the zippers on soft-sided carriers, that smart kitties can figure out how to open them. Some have said that using twist ties to keep the zippers shut works well for that, but I have to admit that the idea scares me!

As far as sedation, I'm going to meet with my vet again and have a long talk about it, and also purchase some Rescue Remedy to try on myself as well as the kitties to see how they react to that.

GAH! What we go through for these little guys. :crazy:

jessi -- Good idea about putting something that smells like me in their crates. I try to do that when I board them, and they seem to like it. I have one of my old towels in their carrier now and they love it.:love: