1. Don’t do it.
3. The $125 United charges for in-cabin cats is just a number they made up. It doesn’t entitle you to any cat-specific services whatsoever, and it doesn’t correspond to any resource whatsoever that United is spending. You will be treated exactly the same as on any other United flight, except that your piece of luggage is alive. It is just money that they charge you because they can.
4. Make goddamn sure that you have bowls that bolt to the bars of your cargo-cat’s cage. If the bowls are sitting right under the bars and perfectly accessible, nosirreebob, the bars must be ATTACHED to the cages. Failure to comply will result in tearing through the airport on two increasingly aggravated trips to Wal-Mart and PetSmart until you find the bowls you need and pay $37 for them.
5. You will spend unconscionable amounts of money. You will spend so much money you grow numb to it. You will spend so much money that you will wonder in your secret heart why you didn’t grind these cats into sausage long ago. You could’ve sold them on streetcorners. The trouble you are going to is ridiculous. You tell yourself you are doing it out of love. This is true, but it pisses you off nevertheless.
6. Do not include a litterbox in your cargo-cat’s carrier. This would seem like common sense. Don’t do it. They will make you take it out.
7. Make sure that when you are handing your leashed cat to the incompetent Louisianan cargo handler, that the leash is securely affixed to the collar. If you do not, your cat will make a break for freedom, bolt into the darkest recesses of a nearby cabinet, and force you to haul him out bodily, during which he will give you three-inch-long scratches and drag an entire box of cargo bags out of the cabinet with him. The incompetent Louisianan handler will not assist with this, not that you want him to.
8. Of course your cat has tapeworms. Why wouldn’t she? It’s only another $60 shot to vanquish them, one small part of a $307 veterinary bill, which you must pay in order to get the necessary health certificates so that your cats may fly at all. Who even cares? You are numb.
9. Be certain not to be seated next to someone who is deathly allergic to cats. Be certain not to abut someone who literally cannot visit his girlfriend’s parents’ house because they have five cats. “It’s okay,” he says, “as long as I don’t touch anything that’s touched their saliva and then touch my face”. You become distinctly aware that living with cats is to be covered in their hair, saliva, and general effluvium. Fall over yourself with apologies while silently cursing United.
10. You can prepare within an inch of your life and this shit will still happen. Make sure to show at the United cargo labyrinth up two and a half hours before your flight begins, because you are going to need every minute of it. If you can, find a nice security lady who takes pity on you and your clearly terrified animal while she is going through your obviously-ran-afoul-of-security bag and lets you keep your water bottle. It helps to have a cat that can bowl over strangers with cuteness. It helps to have a cat that doesn’t make a sound for the entirety of the travel (Daddy’s little trooper, she was). It helps even more if you never get cats in the first place. Pursue this remedy before all others.