Mihail Donchev travelled from Helsinki to Sofia with a transfer in Munich, a total of two two-hour flights and a transfer time of about 2.5 hours at Munich Airport. He was fine, of course, but his cat was meowing the whole way. Thankfully, the engine drowned out the noise.
"She just meowed a lot then went to sleep."
“I was worried she might have been way too nervous, but she just meowed a lot then went to sleep,” shares Donchev, a digital and social media specialist. “There was hair everywhere. When cats are nervous, they shed their fur a lot.”
Donchev was concerned about whether his cat, Manya, a 4-year-old European shorthair, would be comfortable throughout the journey. He says it can be quite a challenge to travel with felines, and upon the advice of a local veterinarian, he gave Manya a mild sedative to calm her down.
Overall, he says the experience was quite positive. “The cat didn’t need to be tended to that much and it was a relief that she didn't pee in her cage. The meowing was just a bit distracting. When you travel with a pet in the cabin, you can't just board the plane and fall asleep. You have to check if he or she is okay from time to time,” says Donchev. “I was flying with my pregnant wife and I was more worried about her, to be honest.”
Planning to fly with your cat soon? According to Mihail Donchev, here are some things to consider.
1. Make sure that your cat has been vaccinated properly
When you take your pet to the veterinarian for a check-up before your flight, ask about other medication or documentation that may be required apart from a pet passport. If you’re unsure about the movement of animals across international borders, it would be best to check with the regulatory agency in your country of destination and/or your carrier.
2. Give your pet lots of time to rest before the trip
Prepare diapers for the cage just in case. Make sure you give it enough food and water if you have a layover. If it's a direct flight, don't overfeed your cat but keep it hydrated.
3. Bear in mind: The cat is a paying customer, too
When travelling with pets, you don’t purchase a ticket per se. Airlines charge a fee for checking a pet in on a flight, either in cabin or in hold. Even if you cat gets a bit loud during the flight – and even if fellow passengers complain – you do have your rights as well.