Travelling with a cat.

We needed to take our cat, Sher Khan with us to another city. Sher Khan is terrified of new faces. When we have visitors he runs and hides in wardrobes or under blankets. Most relatives and friends have  seen him  only  in photographs.

How does one travel with such a cat?

My husband had once flown with another cat (named Kitten) who had been mildly sedated. Kitten had  struggled to get out of the basket throughout the two hour flight.  It’s possible that sedation caused discomfort. It had taken her a quite a while to settle in our new home.

Sending Sher Khan with cargo might traumatise him. One vet suggested sedation – which had seemed fine – he would sleep in one city and wake up in another.

Our other vet was totally opposed to sedation. He said animals, specially cats under sedation were at risk of hypothermia and death. He picked Sher Khan by the scruff of his neck and gently pushed him into the cat-basket. He covered the basket with a towel, darkened the room and gave the cat some of his favourite food for reassurance. He suggested we put a familiar sheet or toy and add clothes that have our smell to the basket.

The unbelievable lack of scratching and meowing in the darkened cat-basket was impressive. We decided to take this vet’s advice.

Spice Jet allows pets only as cargo and here they insisted the pet be sedated and left with them at their warehouse (or some place like that) two hours before the flight. Kingfisher does not allow pets at all – not in cargo, not in cabin. Air India and Jet Airways allow small pets to travel in the cabin. [Pets such as dogs, cats, household birds can be carried as accompanied registered baggage, other animals must be booked as freight. Some more information here]. We chose Air India because we have travelled with pets with them  before, and found them wonderfully helpful.

Turned out it was a great choice. The final decision about carrying animals on board rests with the Pilot. In case of any problems, our vet had suggested we quote past examples when we/others have travelled with pets. We did that when they said the cat- basket seemed too big.

We were given the last row with the seat between Tejaswee  and me free to place the basket. I had layered the basket with the sweat shirt I had worn all day. The basket was  then covered  with a dark sheet. Sher Khan sat and even slept peacefully 😆 I put my fingers in through the grill, and talked to him. He was fine. He had familiar and reassuring smells and voices around him. And the darkness to reassure that nobody could see him. Sher Khan the Ostrich  🙂

Thanks to the guidance of a good vet Sher Khan is now happily exploring his new territories 🙂 (with Gabbar Singh the Lab keeping his distance)

Related Posts:

Some badly taken pictures of an ordinary evening in Nov 2007…
This cat.
Off to Pune for ‘Lavasa Women’s Drive’.
Wordless Wednesday!? Why do we love them?
Same old story and misunderstood cats.
Diwali photographs.
In Mumbai it seems life is easier…
What do Mynas have in common with Moral Police 😉
Cats & Mynahs. In my Home.
Some days you do nothing…


38 thoughts on “Travelling with a cat.

  1. I guess Gabbar is feeling really cold in that pic !!!!!!

    Wonderful wonderful to read this !!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀 and so good that you could do it without any sedative !!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀

    So eventually Air India is the best after all eh !!!! 😀 😀 😀

    Me – They were really good Hitchwriter. After all the worrying…. it went smoothly!


  2. Happy New Year!
    As an animal lover I can understand your anxiety. In fact I tried to imagine what will I do if I had to shift my German Shepherds to another city, it made me nervous.


  3. This is nice, IHM! Both of them look comfortable. When we came from Hosur to Madras, our Andy, a pomoranian, sat with the kids at the back seat of our car, throughout! Only when we got down for lunch, he was a bit restless. Then he was OK. He didn’t like the heat here (Hosur is colder than Bangalore) and took sometime to settle down. Sher Khan looks handsome in his sweater!

    I never knew anything about taking pets by flights. Nice Read.

    Happy and Peaceful New Year to you and your family, IHM!


  4. Great! That you had this wonderful vet and that Gabbar Singh made that flight comfortably 🙂 Also that Air India catered to Gabbar Singh and his family so well 🙂

    My cat, however does not take kindly to travelling. We tried bringing her with us, when we visited my parents, but despite carrying her with the clothes she is familiar with, my clothes, and her favourite blanket, she was thoroughly uncomfortable. So now she stays home when we travel. My domestic help stays close by, so she keeps coming around the house and ensures she’s fed and cared for 🙂

    Sher khan looks good in his vest 🙂 🙂


  5. hey ….heres wishing you and the extended family a wonderful new year!!!

    Does this post and the next one mean you have shifted to Delhi??

    Am so excited at that prospect.


  6. cant believe you have a dog named gabbar singh …we too had a boxer by the same name …lol

    and sher khan is awesome !!
    great tips for carrying small pets …I have a fish”rambo” thats with the aquarium people while I am away the shop is just down my lane , its convenient for me ..


  7. You didnt tell us how you got Gabbar Singh to Delhi. And that sweater is cute!!! thank god Sher Khan didnt face any problem 🙂

    Me – My husband (with two drivers) drove with the two dogs… the 1200 or so km on NH8 🙂 I would have loved to have accompanied but then somebody needed to bring Sher Khan too 😦


  8. supremely useful post, IHM!!! seriously!

    we have two cats and getting them anywhere out of the house is a task. we wud be switching houses soon (in the same area) but these two are difficult even take to the vet who lives IN THE NEXT BLOCK!!! so u can imagine….

    we were planning sedation as well… but let’s see… will talk to the vet and see…


  9. this is really useful post IHM… and hope Sher Khan enjoys this place much.. 🙂 🙂

    and a very happy new year to you and your family IHM.. 🙂 🙂 have a fun filled year ahead….


  10. Love the pic of ur dog and cat !!!! Lovely !!! 🙂

    Gud to took ur cat, without sedation and without putting the pet in the cargo – I dont like that idea – it scares the pets.

    And a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR, 2010, to you and your family !!!! 🙂


  11. both of them look cute together even though Gabbar Singh is keeping his distance…very informative post for someone who is always in a dilemma
    about how to travel with pets without causing them any discomfort IHM..LOVED the post coz I had NO idea that AI ppl were so helpful 🙂

    Gabbar Singh’s coat is too cute for words 😀 off to search for a similar one for my baby too 😀

    PS:- your vet is wonderful 🙂 we need more like him 🙂


  12. They look so sweet together – like siblings looking out of the balconey!

    It must have been such a relief for you that the travel was not a traumatic experience for Sher Khan.


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  14. Loved the way the cat is looking out for someone. Cant say though if it was a lizard on the otherside of the wall though. Never can guess a cat !!

    I have grown up with dozens of cats and dogs in Assam. I used to find popular snaps like a cat sleeping on a dog cliche’.

    Cat is honestly great fun. They are the hunters. I hope you know that cat is not a domestic animal by strict definition of domestication. One wild feature of cat is that they wont copulate in front of humans. Secondly, it will attack you if you approach him in a closed room from all sides and he/she is cornered. If it’s a he, then better not go near him.

    My favourite moments with cars:
    – She playing with a ball of wool. you have to keep on dancing it by pulling one end of the thread.
    – She catching a rat and playing with it till it dies. It will let the wounded rat to run and then he will run fast and catch it again. Sometimes, the rat actually manages to run away. Thats the worst, because it would die somewhere and the whole house will be smelling.
    – She (most times) protecting her plate of fish and rice. How many slaps my dog must have got for trying to sneek in. They are so fast that the dog is left with no clue, when the paw came, hit and went. Dogs normally dont near cats therefore. Cats do come, but. She would slowly come and climb onto the sleeping dog and sleep on top of him. The dog poor fellow forgets that he had got a slap a while back.
    – She pulling out the mosquito net and getting into the bed to sleep next to me. They will purr the hell out of me. But slowly I got to used to it. She would most sleep to your back. For some time, I wondered and later discovered that they dont want to be in a position where I can hug him or put my heavy hand (sleeping me) on top of him. They consider it binding and cant accept that.
    – Seeing them jump from the roof. This is my best. I love looking at cats doing their rounds all over the place (roof, windows, ceiling etc) for hunting, copulating, just loitering. They will hardly come and go through the doors. They can jump so high and from so high without making any noice. Whenever they sleep with me, I keep touching their paws and wonder how can they be so silent.

    There are so many childhood memories with our cats and dogs that I tend to think that keeping a pet in Mumbai is so much of a farce. Dogs are still okay. I have a golden retriever and it is almost the same level of fun.

    But Cats are wild and their true nature can only be seen in the wild. Come to Assam someday if you like cats.

    Me- Loved reading about your cat Durlov 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!! I have raised many cats – mostly found them in the rain, or in garbage or once some children found three kittens near a drain… I was not happy about adopting this Sher Khan. When we found him dehydrated and very sick, near a garbage bin, in Bombay, we left him with the SPCA, and they said he was not going to live, by evening my husband and daughter decided they wanted to check on the cat, went back to SPCA and brought him back… Sher Khan can’t eat fish – he has no clue he is supposed to hold it in his hands 🙂 He doesn’t purr either and I miss that – we think he has a dog’s soul 😆 He sleeps on my stomach, back, legs, and he too prefers that we too not hug him to much 🙂 He likes to be where ever I am from kitchen to even the bathroom. He even sits on the top of the washing machine to see me loading clothes 🙂 He also has a good vocabulary… he understands when I ask somebody to get him something and his ears move to listen to the treat being brought to him 🙂

    I would have been very happy if we could have found him another home, but now he is my baby and he thinks I am his mother 🙂 I even have to sit on my bed for sometime everyday when it is his sleeping time, because he keeps crying to sleep when he is tired 🙂 I think cats and dogs like human company 🙂 though both are happy if there is enough space for them to run and play 🙂
    I would love to see cats in Assam… until I have the opportunity to visit there, it would be great if you could please do a photo post on cats 🙂


    • For photo post, I have go back to Assam. I am talking of a time, when I never thought I would come to Mumbai.

      I never imagined that those days wont be routine. I never thought that a cat and a dog eating, sleeping together would be rare moments. So I never clicked any photographs.

      Its quite sad actually. I never imagined that I will have to sit for hours on a mumbai street on seeing a cat trying my soul to call her closer to me just for a touch. Just for the purr. The first time I failed and was completely dejected. That was summer of 2009. I thought I have to try it in winter (in whatever we get in Mumbai).

      Last winter (In mumbai, you can say so. In Delhi you have to say, this winter), as God had kept a note of that summer night, I found a cat next to Jugheads in Powai when I was coming down after a few pegs of Old Monk and a chicken laced dinner. She was a bit frail and by the look of it I immediately knew I was not alone this time. She is also longing for a touch.

      She looked at me. That usual cat look for a stranger. Facing away from you (easy to run), turning her head backwards towards you.

      I sat. She ran. Then she stopped.

      But I kept sitting, basically squatting on the footpath. Tried to blow lot of air on my hands to get the smell of chicken and started this schoo schoo sound that cat appreciates. Slowly she started coming towards me.

      There was this scooter parked by the side of the road, which she used as a defense and then she elongated her neck and looked at me as if we are playing hide and seek. Cats I tell you, they wont just trust you.

      I figured that now is the right time to look into her eyes and extend my hand. I knew I have to keep my hand extended for some time. I thought of the pain… but she didnt take long.

      She comes, smells my fingers and brushes her side of her tummy. And then she goes behind me and brushes against by back and legs. And purrs…

      Whole of my childhood came to my eyes, and I felt really sick. What am I doing in this goddamn place of nobody (or of marathi manoos) when I could have been with my cats, dogs and my parents.

      I tried to brush all my emotions and everything aside blaming the Dalai Lama – the few pegs of Old Monk that I had. I didnt want this moment to become a soul searching moment. Instead I had to play with the cat.

      I played till I couldnt squat anymore. I didnt have a video camera either !!

      Me – Some memories are best recorded in the mind Durlov… and even without any video you have created the scene here!! I know cats do take a long time to trust, and can’t blame them, they are so tiny, and so light, their only defence is precaution and escape 🙂 Thanks for sharing!!!


  15. i want to know about your vet. m in delhi and seems like our vet prefers to give anesthesia to 8 month old Pi (my cat of same breed) in most cases- once 3 days back to back for putting a simple fracture. M very scred of anesthetia effect on little Pi’ he totally get shocks and gritters while coming out of sedation-and takes 20-24 hrs completely to get normal. pls pls pls send me ur vet info- even he/she is in another city i will talk to him.


    • We have moved out of that city (Pune), but if I remember correctly, I think the vet was Dr Hatekar or Dr Jadhav, I found this information on the net:

      Dr Milind Hatekar,
      12/A3-5, Prabhat Road, Lane No. 14
      City: Pune
      Country: INDIA – 411016
      Main phone: +91-20-25463352
      Main Mobile: 9860016110

      2. Mobile Pet Clinic in Pune by Dr Praveenkumar Jadhav, (Mob.: 9822421715), has OT, OPD, Vet Lab, Kennel, Ambulance, apart from 24X7 Home visits. Uses van as well as the motorcycle for visits.


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    • I have no idea, but in my experience no Captain has ever refused, though once Chennai Airport did refuse to let us take our dachshund in our lap. We had to go back, book ourselves (Two adults, two small kids, one dog) into another place to stay for another night, (must have had to postpone our tickets too) get a wooden crate made (this was in July 1995, no readymade crate were available) and then we had to pack a traumatised dog into a crate and hand him over to indifferent airport staff. He was terrified and had vomited in the flight. We were flying to Port Blair, while coming back we were able to bring him in our lap.


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