Law School, Life, Tips & Tricks

How I Flew My Cat Across the Country to Law School!


Before moving to Tucson, AZ for law school I spent 3 months working in San Jose, California at the NASA Ames base. Basically I had to load all of my belonging into my car, drive across the country for my NASA job, then 3 months later pack it all up again and drive 12 hours from San Jose to Tucson. Space in my Crosstrek was very limited and sadly I had to leave my cat Peep with my parents during my time in San Jose. Luckily a family friend was gracious enough to help me move my things from California to Arizona leaving me enough room in my car to pick Peep up from North Carolina when my parents surprised me with a flight home near the end of the summer!  Long story short I just flew my cat from North Carolina to California (we will be driving to Tucson soon!!) on two, extremely last minute flights and it WASN’T a disaster!

20170220_191342Why Southwest Is AWESOME

My parents surprised me with a flight home after realizing how homesick I had become during my time in California. We realized that I could bring Peep back with me while I was home ergo the plans were extremely last minute.

Southwest DOES NOT require your pet (pending certain age standards) to see a vet within 10 days of your flight like many other airlines!

I was able to reserve Peep’s “spot” on the plane over the phone, less than 24 hours before the flight!

The collapsible carrier they sell is actually very well made, and a the perfect size for my 13.5lb tabby!

I took my Peep to the airport in his large travel carrier, bought the Southwest carrier on site and Peep was happy as a clam!

No sponsorship!  Though I do have their airline rewards credit card and I LOVE it!

In My Bag

Ziploc of Peep’s favorite hard cat food

Greenies Dental Treats

Ziploc of fresh cat litter + Collapsible litter box

Small water dish + bottle of water

Extra disposable puppy pee pads

Short leash (Peep stayed in his harness the entire day)

Children’s Benadryl + 5mL syringe


You can find detailed specifications for pet carriers on your airline’s website.

The Southwest carrier was extremely sturdy, with just enough room for Peep to comfortably stand and turn around!

I lined his carrier with disposable puppy pads to make for easy clean up just in case.

I also gave Peep a shirt from my parent’s house to give him some familiar smells.


On the day of the flight I restricted Peep’s access to food to help prevent upset stomach during the flight.

I fed him morsels of food and water throughout the day as treats to keep him calm.

Through Security

You WILL have to take you pet (cat or dog) out of the carrier and carry them through the metal detector.

Peep is an extremely calm cat so this didn’t necessarily bother him, even when the TSA agent was checking my hands with the explosive residue wand.

On The Flight

While boarding I made sure to ask the people in my row if they had cat allergies or fears, and I found a lovely mother/daughter pair that were just fantastic

Peep stayed in his carrier (per TSA regulation) during the entire flight and his carrier was under the seat in front of me.

Peep Curled up During our 5 Hour Flight

He was AMAZING. He really only became distressed during takeoff and touch down but quickly calmed.

Other Tips

  • ALWAYS call the airline the day before your flight to double check the reservation and make sure you are totally prepared.
  • I did dose Peep with 1mL (12.5mg/5mL) children’s Benadryl (as advised by his vet) for the two-hour car ride to the airport but did not see the need to administer more during the flight. ALWAYS consult your vet for medical advice.
  • Most airports have designated Pet Relief Areas accessible to cats and dogs!

Please please feel free to contact me if you have ANY questions about flying with your kitties!

Tess Rogers

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