During temperature extremes or during travel times with high risk of flight delays, it is safest to leave cats at home.
As the nation's air travel system struggles to recover after recent storms affected much of the country, The Humane Society of the United States is urging pet owners to keep their pets on the ground for the next several days.
"News reports indicate that some flights have been delayed for eight hours or even longer," said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. "Animals housed in cages in the cargo holds for hours in freezing temperatures are at serious risk for hypothermia. The best thing to do is to leave pets at home if there is any risk of flight delays." During the hot month, there is an equal risk for heat stroke due to high temperatures.
Airlines allow passengers to bring cats into the passenger cabin if the cat is kept in a carrier small enough to fit under seats. Larger pets are shipped in transport crates in a plane's cargo hold. The temperature in cargo holds varies widely depending on the weather conditions.
The HSUS advises air travelers to leave pets at home in the care of a pet sitter or to delay travel until delays are less likely.
"Anytime someone places their cat in the care of an airline baggage handler they are taking a risk," said Pacelle. "That risk increases significantly during extreme temperatures."