Here are the facts: the majority of Americans own pets, and almost all of these pet owners consider said animal to be a member of a family. Most will own either a dog or a cat, and I’m not really interested in touching off or participating in a debate about which species is better. (Full disclosure: I have owned cats my entire adult life and currently have three — which I absolutely insist is one shy of being a crazy cat lady.)
But despite the obvious superiority of the feline to the canine, I will grant that generally speaking it is much easier to travel with a dog than it is a cat. Most dogs will wag a tail at the prospect of a new adventure, whereas most cats will hide under the bed and hiss at you if you even so much as make a move towards the pet carrier.
On the other hand: I have known cats — among my current group, it’s a giant tuxedo named Henry, pictured here thinking about his next journey — who really does enjoy a change of scenery. Although his most recent trip was a short one, involving a cab ride uptown to hunt a mouse in a friend’s apartment, he’d be totally game for a bigger road trip.
When I had a country house, he would easily make the two and half hour trip back and forth from New York City each weekend. Sure, he occasionally hung from the lining of the car’s roof, but have you ever taken a close look at the cloth that lines the roof of a car? It practically screams “claw me,” no cat could possibly resist sinking a nail in that. (And while you’re up there, it only makes sense to scale it.) I always thought it was pretty funny when Henry did that, and in retrospect, I award bonus points for him f-cking up the interior of my ex-husband’s car.
A plane trip is a different story, even for a cat as amiable as Henry. I am quite sure he wouldn’t like being flown as cargo, and while I’ve never attempted to fly my cats anywhere, I’m quite sure I wouldn’t like it either. I join the 75% of pet owners who say they would not trust an airline to properly handle their cat as checked luggage in the cargo. (This, from a study by Harris Interactive conducted for DogVacay, a “leading online home dog boarding and pet services community.”) Although my leeriness on this subject comes from simply watching how airlines handle other kinds of baggage, those with experience are less than thrilled, apparently. Some 45% of pet owners are either not at all or somewhat satisfied with the pet-friendliness of “airline accommodations.”
Alison J. Stein
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