How to Travel with Cats on a Long Flight (Avoiding a Cat-tasrophy’)

It’s 12:30 am and I can’t sleep.

The first night of sleep after flying across the ocean is usually a good one, but not tonight. We arrived at LAX at 1:30 yesterday afternoon and after a long wait for luggage, ambled out of the arrivals gate, up the ramp and into the arms of my parents. We left the airport at 3:30 pm and right into choked arteries of LA traffic, slowing us down with its accidents, gawkers, and predicable rush hour hoopla that governs life in La-La land. An otherwise 1 hour trip took us 2 and half hours. Ugh.

Leaving Seoul at 8:40 pm (with no sleep on the flight) meant by the time we were home safe in LA meant we were awake for 20 hours. Add 4 more by the time we went to bed. The first sleep after being so sleep deprived usually feels best with the following nights giving way to waking up early, but gradually later and later: 3 am, 4 am, then 5 am and then you’re on a new time zone. But it’s 12:30 in the morning now, with nothing but late night TV to entertain me in the background while I type. Left wing pundits clucking on Donald Trump’s indiscretions, ‘Superbad’ with Michael Cera and Jonah Hill (which never gets old) and the equally disgusting and fascinating ‘Dr. Pimple Popper’. Ugh.

There is cause for celebration amidst the background talk of impeachment, green beer and lipomas. We successfully brought our cats to LA and to their new home for the next 18 months. We were secretly dreading the trip as we didn’t know how our four legged friends would be on a such a long flight, and thought our surrounding passengers would stage a mutiny if their cat calls proved unbearable, but through a little planning we did it. Here’s how:

  • Buying a soft-sided cat carrier that was airline approved.
  • Booking way in advance to find a carrier that would allow for pets.
  • Taking the cats on longer and longer drives around the neighborhood (and eventually to Costco on a shopping trip) to get them accustomed to their travel carriers.
  • On the morning of travel, giving them a big breakfast and then withdrawing food to minimizing urination and defecation.

Taking them through the airport was a trip. The clerk at the check in desk got it started:

“Are these Korean cats?” He led in with the pleasantries you give passengers in our shoes. It struck me as odd that someone would think that cats as having a nationality. Obviously not a pet owner.

“Yes, we adopted them 3 years ago when they were living on the street.” I smiled back. “We are taking them to their new home.”

“But these are Korean cats?”

“Yes, they meow only in Korean and we worry if they’ll be accepted by American peers.”

When we got to security, we faced our second test, having to take them out of their carriers and carry them through the X-ray machine while sending their carriers through the carry on bag car wash. I thought that the chaos and noise would cause the poor pussies to freak out, bolt, forcing us to chase them through the customs hall with local Koreans taking selfies with us in the background to show their support.

Instead, they were really cool and with the cacophony of over stimulus, were more than eager to retreat back to the relative safety and familiarity of their cubicles and under the seats for a 10 hour flight.

Under seats 46 J and K

My parents were more than kind to welcome them to their new quarters by festooning their new room with a litter box, a food dish and two sleeping beds. For the first evening, we kept them in their rooms, trying to entice them out from under the bed to explore their new home.

Luckily, we have the holidays to spend with them to get them accustomed to their new surroundings before saying a long goodbye. With parents that are vets, I know they’ll be in good hands. I started taking stock of my work tasks over the holiday and thought it might be a good time to develop our youtube page. On a related note, I saw that ‘Dr. Pimple Popper‘ makes 1.4 million dollars a year on her channel. Ugh.

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