Dogs commonly travel by airplane, but how often do you meet a flying cat? Transporting the skittish animals can be tough enough by car, much less by airplane. Yet my Montana friends Alyson and Travis Booher routinely aviate with Piper, their adventure cat.
“Before Piper, two geriatric cats at home limited our travel,” explains Alyson. “So when I got a new kitty, I vowed not to be homebound anymore.” Alyson used to write a “Dear Tabby,” advice column for Missoula’s Animeals food bank and adoption center. One client had trained her kitten to ride everywhere in a harness on her shoulder.
Intrigued, Alyson wondered whether most kittens can be trained to travel. Investigating online, she learned that ‘pet adventure travel’ is trending among young people. Few fly with felines but given countless other “adventure cat” activities she thought, “Let’s try it!” Travis was concerned about being tagged as ‘the crazy cat people,’ so the couple agreed Piper would travel exclusively for function, not attention.
“As with people, flying is not for every pet,” says Alyson. “My cat just happens to be really chill. Probably the key is to train kittens when they are young.” A show-cat owner advised Alyson that if a kitten isn’t bothered by vacuum-cleaner noise, it will be comfortable out and about. Piper passed that test, so she began toting him on errands in a cat backpack. Finally one day, the couple bundled Piper into their Skylane to visit Alyson’s brother in Bozeman. When Piper stretched out relaxed, Alyson freed him from his backpack to cruise the cockpit…
**Read Greg’s entire column, “PIPER, THE FLYING CAT”** Mobile version here.
Photo: “Piper relaxes aloft over the Cascade Mountains.” (Alyson Booher photo) SEE MORE PHOTOS!
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
©2018 Gregory N. Brown
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!