Oscar is a cat of the world. He has his own Instagram account, @Oskibabi , along with high-tech toys like a remote-controlled centipede.
by David Compa
Oscar is a cat of the world. He has his own Instagram account, @Oskibabi , along with high-tech toys like a remote-controlled centipede. But there's one aspect of modern life Oscar doesn't like: flying. Rather than leave Oscar home in New York while I spent 10 days in Phoenix, I decided to take him with me. It's not that unusual. Over 500,000 animals a year fly on U.S. airlines as cargo, and it's common now to see dogs in the cabin, too. But Oscar appeared to be terrified. On two nonstop flights, he curled up in a ball for hours on end, damp to the touch. (Cats mainly sweat through their paws, but veterinarian Brian Collins explained to me that sweat could be profuse enough to wind up on his fur. Or maybe it was my sweat.) The experience was, however, the closest we'll probably ever come to having celebrity status, at least in terms of the positive attention we got from airport and airline workers. Their unexpected sweetness tempered the stress of traveling with a pet. I've never encountered such friendly agents. Flight attendants didn't snap at me to put my seat in the right position before departure. Instead, they cooed at me — or, rather, at the gray-brown tabby in my lap. It still wasn't fun for either of us, as I described in a podcast for the AP Travel series "Get Outta Here." And it cost me hundreds of dollars. BEFORE THE FLIGHT Airlines have different pet policies. American had me reserve a spot for Oscar in the cabin after I booked, then pay the extra fee at the airport. JetBlue charged the pet fee when I booked my ticket. Airlines limit how many pets can be in the cabin, so it's best to reserve a place fast. Taking Oscar cost an additional $225. I also had to pay almost $50 more to check my luggage, because Oscar counted as my carry-on item. I didn't need any paperwork from the vet, because Oscar wasn't traveling internationally or as cargo in the plane's hold. Check before you go, as policies differ by airline. You need an airline-compliant carrier that fits under the seat, which is easy to find. More investments: pee pads ($10), a collapsible water bowl (about $10), a harness and leash ($27). I also brought his favorite toys and treats along. It was