Taking a Pet to South Korea — Part 2: The Flight

November 20, 2015 1 Comments
Make sure to put your pet in an airline-approved carrier!

You’ve arrived at the airport with your pet and paperwork in hand. You’ve made sure that your pet is under the weight limit and you have an airline-approved carrier. It’s time for the flight. If you’re going through this process to take your animal abroad, I’m assuming it’s also going to be a long flight to get there. The idea of flying with a pet can be daunting, and it’s a little difficult, but it pays off in the end.

I got to the airport a few hours before my flight and lugged my cat around while I searched for currency exchange stations and snacks to bring on the plane. He is a heavy cat at 12 pounds (overweight for my airline — I’m thankful the employee at the check-in counter was so nervous about checking a cat in that she didn’t pay attention), so I was tired of carrying him around after 30 minutes. He was also tired of bumping against my leg. But after settling down and waiting for boarding, he quieted down and was content to just look around. The flight itself was another story.

Airlines will always ask the people around you if they mind sitting next to a cat. The seat next to me was full when I checked online, but I guess that person didn’t like cats and decided to move. So, I sat in an aisle seat and another passenger had the window seat. However, this person was allergic to cats and had to be moved. Fortunately another person liked cats and we were able to figure it out quickly. I was lucky to only have one other person in my row.

I lined his carrier with pee pads, put a collapsible water dish inside his carrier, and put him underneath the seat in front of me. He did not pee or drink water at any time during the 14 hour flight. His nose got incredibly dry and discolored, and he was breathing hard the whole time. I couldn’t sleep because I was worried about him and that he would start meowing and disturbing the other passengers around me. Fortunately he didn’t meow for the first 11 hours, but unfortunately he did start crying during the last 3 hours when I finally felt comfortable enough to go to sleep. During those 3 hours, I took him to the bathroom and let him out the carrier to roam around on the sink and stretch his legs multiple times. I also alternated between putting him on my lap or under the seat, trying to figure out which position he liked more. Neither position really placated him and the crying most continued for the rest of the flight. I’m chalking all this behavior up to nervousness and dehydration, but why he didn’t drink his water is beyond me.

Some ways you can prevent the dehydration from happening is to inject your pet with subcutaneous fluid. Your vet will show you how to do it, and you should administer it right before you arrive at the airport or board the plane. The vet can also give you some medication to give to your pet to ease its anxiety. You should start the pet on these meds a few days before to see how he or she will react. I did try these out, but I think my cat is so high strung that they didn’t really do anything for him.

Although my story seems like the flight was stressful, I think it’s one of the more successful ones. If you know how to make your pet comfortable and at ease, it should be a breeze.

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