Making the skies feline friendly

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By: Arden Moore

In my role as editor of Catnip, the author of 17 books on cats and dogs and an animal behavior consultant, I travel coast to coast to make presentations about pets. Usually, I fly solo and hire a professional pet sitter to take care of my two cats and my two dogs. They seem – well, the cats, Callie and Murphy – quite content to stay home while I hop form one time zone to the next.

My two dogs, Chipper and Cleo, are always up for any trip – be it a road trip, on a boat or on a plane. They just love sharing the chance to get from here to there with me.

I am about to embark on a national multi-city book tour to promote my latest releases, The Cat Behavior Answer Book and The Dog Behavior Answer Book. The tour is aptly being called, “Arden Moore Unleashed for a Pet-Friendly America.”

One of the “pre-tour” trips called for me to appear in New York City and to discuss cat behavior for a satellite media tour. About 20 big and small television news stations all over the country lined up to ask me about why cats do what they do.

The sponsors of this satellite media tour requested that I bring one of my own cats to New York. Murphy performs a lot of tricks, but unfortunately, she gets motion sickness and tends to make anything-but-pleasant vocals inside a carrier. The natural pick was Callie, my 12-year-old calm calico.

Callie has flown before – but it was seven years ago. So, I took the necessary steps to ensure her flight was as stress-free as possible. I booked a non-stop flight from San Diego and New York City and verified with the airlines that Callie was indeed listed as my travel mate. I recommend you do the same because airlines limit the number of pets who can travel in the cabin. Sometimes, that number per flight is as low as four.

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I also had Callie receive a head-to-tail physical examination by my veterinarian who signed the necessary health certificate that airlines require. I also trained Callie to enjoy being inside a soft-sided, airline-approved carrier by feeding her favorite healthy treat inside it.

Callie’s packing needs included a harness, leash, an ID tag on her collar that listed my cell phone number (she also has a microchipped ID), an absorbent pad (in case of an accident), treats, collapsible water bowl and a small, comfy bed.

What I didn’t anticipate was the new rule at airport security screening areas. We’re all now used to taking off our shoes, pulling out our computer laptops and putting loose change and metal objects in the trays.

In addition, you are ordered to take your cat out of the carrier and hold her as you walk through the security sensor door. I was at a crowded airport full of impatient people wanted to get to their gates. I tried to remain calm as I removed Callie out of her carrier and held her tightly in my arms as we were screened.

Once I put her back in the carrier, I realized how lucky we were. Imagine if she had panicked and wiggled free and ran loose in a large airport?

The lesson I pass on to those of you who find the occasional need to have your cat join you on an airplane is to always fit your cat with a harness before putting her inside the carrier. At the airport, attach the leash to the harness as well. This way, when you are told to remove your cat from the carrier, the chances of escape are minimized.

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As for Callie, her trip to the Big Apple was full of adventure. From the hotel window sill in our 20th floor room, she could watch tourists in Times Square and actually look down as some birds. She flirted with the TV cameras and tolerated being oohed and aahed and petted by feline fans at the studio and inside the hotel.

Now, it’s time for me to pack my suitcase and begin the official launch of the book tour. Callie is happy to remain and enjoy the comforts of home.

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