Should Cats Stay in the Cabin or Cargo of Planes? My Preference for Olga


Hi, I’m Christopher! Read my introduction to learn more about me and my silly Russian Blue cat, Olga.

Flying the friendly skies is undoubtedly a cat’s preferred form of travel since they love high elevations, can see migrating flocks of birds in the distance if their owner lifts them up to the window, and can analyze several new scents coming from the happy passengers. Cats feel like they’re at home on airlines, like people.

Although my sarcasm for air travel knows no bounds, I still think it’s the safest way to travel, whether you have a cat tagging along or not. However, the idea of confining Olga to a noisy, frigid environment like the cargo area bothers me. It’s scary for anyone with a pet if they can imagine how it would feel and sound to endure the tight space for several hours.

How long did it take you to find me hiding here?

Olga in the Cabin

If I have to fly with Olga, she’ll join me in the cabin. She’s small enough to fit in an airline-approved carrier, and although every passenger aboard without headphones would despise me, I think I could handle the trip without going insane. The cargo area isn’t as dangerous as everyone assumes, but since I’m lucky enough to have a small cat, the cabin is the ideal choice.

Cargo Area Safety

I’ve read articles about cats and dogs dying in the cargo area and examined the statistics. Considering that 188,233 animals were transported by air in 2022, and only seven died, the cargo area seems safe. There was only one injury and one lost pet, but if you look closer, you’ll see that some airlines are safer than others.

If I had an overweight cat or large dog that had to travel in the cargo area, I wouldn’t put them on a Hawaiian Airlines or American Airlines flight. Because more incidents involving pets occur with those carriers, I probably wouldn’t fly with Olga in their cabins, either. Unfortunately, you have fewer options if you have a brachycephalic cat, like a Persian.

Did you say dinner will be late today? I need a new owner.
Did you say dinner will be late today? I need a new owner.

Brachycephalic Animals

Some airlines don’t allow you to travel with flat-faced cats or dogs, and others only allow you to keep them in the cabin. They have more trouble breathing in the cargo area, and they’re more likely to suffer injuries or death. If you have to travel around the world with an Exotic Shorthair or French Bulldog, your safest route is probably by sea.

It’s hard for me to imagine a long trip on the water with Olga, and although some felines are fond of marine life, she would be miserable because it would take her longer to get home. In an airline cabin, she would cry constantly and probably scream loudest when the food cart is wheeled her way. Her meows, like those when traveling to the vet, would not be sporadic but would keep time like a metronome.

The passengers beside me would request another seat and glare at me with hate in their eyes, but I would smile and say, “At least she’s not as annoying as a passenger who doesn’t know how to cover their mouth when they cough or handle their alcohol!”

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