What do you do when a cat poops on the airplane after you almost die in a plane crash?

June 6, 2008 | By | 45 Replies More

Last night, I was flying from St. Louis to Minneapolis to participate in the 2008 National Conference for Media Reform.  I was flying in a small jet (the kind that holds about 60 passengers).

As we approached the Minneapolis airport, we started going through storm clouds.  Undeterred, the pilot started bringing the plane down for a landing.  The runway was in sight.  That’s when some huge storm clouds became apparent.  Not only that, lightning surrounded the airplane-it looked like the lightning was only a couple yards outside the window.  It was right after noticing the lightning that the plane went into a sustained stall.  It was not the kind of controlled stall that planes enter just prior to touching down.  Rather, this was the kind of stall where the nose of the plane goes way up (maybe 50° from horizontal) and the plane starts losing altitude, sliding backwards.

To make things worse, the plane started blowing sideways in the vicious wind.  This condition lasted for about 10 seconds. The feeling of being blown around like a leaf was really disconcerting.  No one on the plane reacted other than being extremely quiet. Nonetheless, I really truly thought that this was going to be the end for me.

Luckily (you knew the story would end well, since I’m writing this post), the pilot regained control of the plane, leveling out and fighting his way through five minutes of wicked winds.  There were lots of bumps and jolts, and many of the passengers were doublechecking and triple checking their seatbelts.

During the excitement, I could’ve sworn that I heard a cat.  As it turned out, the man sitting in front of me had a big black suitcase under his seat that was actually a carrier for a cat.  During the severe turbulence, the cat not only made lots of noise, it apparently shat all over itself, causing a thick stench of cat poop to spread throughout the seating area. The other passengers (including me) had to endure that smell (which was so bad that it was nauseating) while the pilot made a 20-minute detour around the storm in order to try to land the plane a second time.

Worse yet, I am highly allergic to cats.  My exposure triggered asthma, for which I needed to use an inhaler last night.

There’s no real point to this post, other than my need to rant.  I had no idea that passengers could bring cats in the passenger compartment of airplanes.  This especially surprises me, given the fact that numerous people (I’ve heard that it’s 10% of the population) are allergic to cats.

After the plane was safely on the ground (the passengers applauded when the plane safely touched down), I asked the flight attendant whether it was appropriate to have a cat in the passenger compartment of an airplane.  She stated that it is done all the time, and that the passenger needs only to pay an extra $100 in order to bring a pet in the passenger compartment of the plane.

I would suggest one modification to the $100 rule.  The next time a cat shits during a flight, the passenger bringing the cat should pay $100 to each passenger within 10 feet of the cat.


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Category: Health, Whimsy

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (45)

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  1. Olivia says:

    to original poster — have you ever had a cat??

  2. My word, the reaction. What do you do with your cat if you're traveling?

    Kennel it.

    We kennel our dog, even though she travels well.

    People seem to think nothing of inflicting their hobbies on strangers and making them suffer. Cats, kids, what have you. People with whiny children who won't leave movies theaters (heaven forbid they attempt to control their children) or who think bringing their animals to everything as if it were a part of the family…

    I love my dog, she is part of the family, but she is not part of A family as far as Other People are concerned. A little consideration for strangers would go a long way.

    The person who says out loud what the problem is with this gets slammed while those who inflict their inconsiderate cluelessness on others are sympathized with when something like this happens.


    By the way, cat allergies are prompted less by fur than by cat saliva and dander, which both can be airborn. In the close confines of a plane, this can be a problem.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Love of cats seems all-consuming for many. Consider the centuries worth of video of cats (yes, and dogs) one can find on YouTube. I'm not anti-pet, mind you. My family has a dog we love very much, but she's only a dog. I keep it in perspective.

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    This post about cats is currently featured on MSNBC: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40238292/ns/health-al

    Health writer JoNel Aleccia indicates that you cannot possibly escape cats on airlines:

    Whether it's residue from cats actually on board, or detritus carried by pet-loving passengers, the most common feline allergen was detected in 100 percent of aircraft seats tested — and in high enough amounts to trigger serious reactions in sensitive people, according to a report by Swiss scientists . . .

    Of the top 10 major airlines that haul the most passengers, only two keep cats out of the cabin.

  4. LaVeda says:

    ignorant to believe all these people must just be taking their cat on a day trip. Im getting out of the military soon and moving back home-I have every intention of bringing my cat with me on the plane. quit being a baby-all major airlines allow it for a reason.

  5. Preity says:

    you probably think its easy for people to leave their pets (who are like family) behind.

    What about people who dont have any family support to take care of their pets when away?? I suppose thats why there are pet boardings.. i am totally for that !

    But what if you have to move countries ? I currently live in Australia & my circumstances are such that I have to move to Japan. I am not going to abandon my cats (& trust me I have heard of some people doing that… how an they have the heart to!)

    Have some compassion ! Dont just think of yourself.. think of others situation too.

    As for your cat allergies… im surprised as an 'allergic' sufferer you havent done enough research as to where the allergies actually come from & HOW they develop…

    Incase you do not know it is all in the mind…. the mind then has physical affects on your body ofcourse.. & this alters all the allergic tests.. which arent accurate at all !

    I have never had any allergies in my life until a few years ago where i suffered from non stop allergies 24/7 & 365 days a year.. infact i can only reember 2 or 3 days int he entire year when i was allergy FREE !! docs did all tests & were surprised to see that all my alergy tests were negative ! I was prescribed those hay fever tablets antihistamines… which worked but i refused to be dependant on them.

    2.5 years later I am completely free from allergies… all on my own & infact now have 2 kittens & am still allergy free

    My point every passenger sitting there on the airplane… with pets or without pets.. have a life of their own… they have a reality & they have a reason for doing what theyre doing…

    your tantrum sounds like being in a traffic & thinking 'where are all these people going !!??'

    stupid thought isnt it? well so is yours

    confront it & deal with it

    dont be such a coward

  6. Francis says:

    These cat lovers are nuts. Put your damn animals in cargo. This moron Kim mentioning babies crying, yes they are people flying in the passenger section of a plane, exceptions should be made for babies. They do not know how to relieve the pressure in their ears sometimes, not like Rufus barking his face off or Cuddles meowing because their dopey owners spoil them on every whim and peep out of them. Do you listen to yourself? The only people who think they're privileged and being caterred to are the A-holes who expect an animal to have the same rights as a human.

    Wake up and be considerate, you are probably the same person that would walk over a person dying of an asthma attack to save a kitten from falling into a puddle. I cant believe the ignorance of these people. I thought this was a funny Rant until all these offended cat fools chimed in and I cant believe what they are saying.

  7. jon says:

    Francis, I can only hope that person having the asthma attack is you.

  8. KM says:

    I came across this post because I'm trying to find a way to safely transport my cat when I move across the country. I would much rather get a cabin on a train and take him that way, but I can't find a train that allows pets. Driving isn't an option because not only does our family only have the one car, I'll be travelling by myself.

    I do understand the frustration, I do. As someone who is allergic to everything except pets, I constantly suffer because of the choices others make. I believe if there was a better option, many pet owners would happily take it. I also highly doubt that the travelling pets are just along for a ride because I don't know a single pet owner that thinks travelling with a pet is easy.

  9. Emma Theriault says:

    I will be moving to a different province in August. The original plan was to drive for 3 days, but this is no longer possible.

    I will have to bring my cat on the plane. I've looked into it and my airline will not let you put your cat/animal in cargo from may to august, as the heat would be too much.

    So I have no choice but the bring my cat on the plane. I'll happily move seats if my neighbour is allergic, but keep in mind people who suffer from food allergies travel on flights that happily serve passengers things that could kill them.

    I'm not going on a week long vacation and bringing my cat. I'm moving for good and this is my only option. Don't be so quick to assume.

    You said it yourself, you didn't know that there was a cat on the plane until turbulence hit. If it hadn't, you probably never would have known.

  10. zouper says:

    Francis, I would save a kitten before a human, especially a baby!!! You are the prime example for my reasoning. Animals would never spew such garbage out of their mouths, which is why their lives are more worthy than yours!

    • Erich Vieth says:

      I'm reading some of George Carlin's written works. I just read his section where he stated that he too would save a cat or dog before saving a human being. I am absolutely convinced that there are cat owners who would save a pet rather than a human if they could only save one.

  11. Ully says:

    Don’t you think you’re being just a little over-dramatic here?
    You are claiming to be an attourney so your egoism comes as no shock..

    Making someone pay a fine to every passanger is just absurd.

    Asthma? Don’t make me laugh – If you had a chronic disease, you would have to use your inhaler at least twice a day..

    As for your allergic reaction..ever heard of Claritine 10mg? Not very wise NOT carrying one around with you, since you know of your allergy..
    You should ask the crew next time; usually they have it in their on-board med kit.

    Blame the airlines for not offering adequate means of transportation!

    P.s. The main reason I became a AAL is IGNORANT people like you.

  12. Jessica says:

    I read your post, and I’m sorry you have an allergy to cats, but I feel that if you are flying, and chose the particular airline yourself, booked the tickets etc. it is your responsibility to do your research and just look around the website of the company your flying with, I don’t see why people dont actually take an interest in companies they use. Anyway, back to my point. If it is clearly in the airline rules then the cat owner is in no wrong at All taking the cat with them on board. No wrong at all, it is you who chose to fly with this airline.
    They would never let an animal on board without the correct paperwork etc. so I’m sorry my friend, but it is absurd saying that they make the flight terrible for everyone else. As ever heard of a screaming baby? Much worse..
    I agree with a hove, not being a hater, but this is over dramatic about the cat, you just escapes near death, you should be so glad you can smell the cat poop and that your not dead! If anything you should be dramatising about the near-plane crash!

  13. frannie says:

    Perhaps the whiners should head south of the border and take a bus where chickens and goats are allowed to ride. Commercial flights have always allowed pets that i know of. Quite whining.

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