Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The perfect carrier







So went our conversation as we headed back to the apartment after our final vet's visit before the flight at the weekend.

Tallis was in her spanking new red pet carrier. Since her old one was disintegrating and smelling strongly of cat pee, I had decided to upgrade her before we attempted the 13 hour flight to Tokyo. Extensive googling had revealed two highly recommended possibilities: a bag made by the manufacturer 'Sherpa' and one by 'Sleepypod'. The second of these two was about twice the price of the first but a few inches longer, with fold-up ends that enabled it to slide properly under the plane seat during take-off and landing. Both had good reviews, so it really came down to exactly how guilty I was feeling about taking my cat on this trip.

I'd put in an order for the 'Sleepypod' the week before.

However, it transpired that the whole of Canada was having some giant guilt complex concerning their feline friends and every shop and their supplier was on backorder. Deciding this was secretly a message from my bank manager, I asked a friend to drive me to the out-of-town Petsmart and purchased the Sherpa carrier.

This was the second journey we had tried with the carrier. On the plus side, the bag was sturdy, well ventilated and and a cheerful colour. On the downside, my considerable care and attention to this matter was being utterly unappreciated.

The sparkly clean interior of the carrier was already coated in cat pee. So was I since, as I mentioned above, the carrier was beautifully ventilated.

On our first visit to the vet's that week, I had purchased a pheromone spray designed to calm cats down by reminding them of their mother. Judging by its success this trip, I wondered whether we might be reaching the heart of Tallis' problem with other cats.

I let her out once we reached the apartment and set about scrubbing the carrier down. I was about to apply the same treatment to myself when my phone rang to let me know that my friend and that day's department speaker had arrived. I sniffed at my shirt. Well, I've never been one for suffering alone. I headed out down the stairs.


  1. You and you cat converse just like my son and his cat. Sometimes I swear they actually understand each other.

    First I was trying to understand how the cat would be under your plane seat but then I figured that the cat would be in a different carrier for the trip and the empty one would go under your seat?

    1. Nope, Tallis is my carry-on item so both she and the carrier go under my seat :)

      It depends on the airline whether they let cats in the cabin, but most of the time you can bring a small pet in with you, providing they fit in an airline-approved carrier (like the one above).

  2. You can carry your cat with you? She doesn't have to go into the cargo hold? What about quarantine?! I'm confused! (Maybe I'm thinking like an African again: our animals are inevitably put into very long quarantine because we have such exotic diseases!) {I mean the animals.} [Well, OK, us people too.]

    Welcome back! Ready for the new academic year? :)

    1. Yes, you are right (or you were until very recently) and it's not just Africa! Quarantine used to be necessary for entering all countries that didn't have rabies, which included both Japan and the UK. However, now you can microchip animals, you can guarantee that the vet's certificates with vaccination records belong to the animal you have before you.

      The process is still long, but it's all done in advance of your travel. So, I had to make sure Tallis had up-to-date rabies vaccinations (that was easy, she was already fine) and then get an official blood test done at a national test centre to prove the vaccination level in her system was above the minimum. Then, we had to wait 6 months, fill in a truck of paper work but were then good to go!

    2. .... and I'm sort of ready for the new academic year! I start teaching for the first time in April (up until now, I've been pure research) so I'm a little nervous :)

    3. ..... you know, it would have been more practical to *think* about my response and then produce a single coherent reply. Possibly, I should have eaten first for maximum efficiency in my response!

      But! Yes, Tallis was able to come in the cabin with me, not in the hold. At least as far as Tokyo, though she then had to go in the hold from Tokyo to Sapporo. It all comes down to airline (and sometime country) regulations.

    4. So, ummm, what does the owner do if the cat goes berserk, as some cats tend to do in confined spaces? Mind you, small children are allowed to cause pandemonium on planes, so why not cats?

      It's your first teaching experience? The best advice I can give you: rest assured that the students are more nervous than you are, whatever act they put on, especially undergraduates. Go get 'em! ^^

    5. Oh it was a risk! We had flown up from Florida to Canada though, so I thought there was a high chance Tallis would be OK. Once you do the going-up bit, flying is basically very dull.

      But the kid line was basically the thought I was taking. One baby on the plane, and no one would be likely to complain about my cat! As it happened, there was an entire school group on-board so the sound effects they supplied to turbulence overruled any objections coming from under my seat.

      Thank you! That is good to remember!!