Flying with Cats

travelling with cats by plane

Are you considering a trip across the country with your feline family member? Going out of the states? Well if you need a quick overview of what it takes to travel with your cat by airplane, then you’re in the right place.

A voyage by air can be harrowing for cats, but a few simple tips can help make the transition as serene as possible, given the circumstances.


1. Commercial Pet Transporter Companies

cats travelling photo
Photo by Vele74

Got a little cash? Though it does cost a little more, there are professional and reliable services that can do everything for you when it comes to felines and air travel.

Depending on where you live in the world, professional Pet Transporters will book your flight, pick up your cat at your door, transfer them to a rented Cargo Crate and load them onto the plane.

They will then deliver your cat to the front door of wherever you are going.


This option can also include overnight Pet Hotel stays before, during and after, flights. It’s sleek, professional – a little impersonal and pricey – but the best option if you have stop over plans, or small children to tend to, as well.

Having found a good transport service for your cat, you can rest easy knowing your cat is in capable hands.

  • You can make special arrangements to be the one to take them to the airport, or pick them up from the destination airport if you choose.
  • The plans are flexible and they are happy to work with you. Be sure to remember to supply a familiar piece of clothing or their blanket for their journey.


2. DIY Airline Cat Cargo Containers

If you decide to transport your cat yourself, you will need to get an Airline approved cargo container, which can be rented from most airlines, or bought outright from participating Pet shops.

You are then free to discuss with the airline the three modes of ticket available : Cabin, Checked Baggage, or Cargo Class.

Domestic Airline requirements are pretty much standard throughout the world, but check your airline’s website. To learn more about travelling with pets click here.


The Containers are larger to ensure that your cat can fully stand up, turn around and lie down, easily.

Depending on the airline, certain Snub nosed breeds of cat, may require a crate one size larger than other cats to fly, to ensure ease of breathing.

Commercial crates are also made of stronger materials with the ability to be bolted together around the middle seam, for safety.


Once “packed” for the journey, your crated friend must be dropped off at the airport – generally at a different place to where you have to check in – so make sure you get the address and details when you are booking, and don’t leave your check-in till the last minute.

Airlines often email you a checklist to help you follow through.


3. Veterinarian Certificates and Vaccinations

  • Domestic Flights: Most airlines will insist on a certificate of health, with some also requiring that your Cat’s vaccinations are all up to date with the last booster-shot 2 weeks before travel.
  • International Flights: Again health certificates and vaccinations are required. Strict Quarantine restrictions are in force in countries, like Australia.

So if you are immigrating to a new home, you must check with the Quarantine and Immigration authorities in the country of your destination.

Most offer an information pack or website, on all the necessary protocols of the country you are travelling to.


4. Flight Comfort and Minimizing Stress

pet containers photo
Photo by qmnonic

Let’s face it, it is going to be traumatic event in your cats life, as (with rare exceptions) they really don’t like (a) being crated, or (b) strangers and strange places.

  • Airlines will insist on Shredded newspaper or a thick layer of it, under kitty’s favorite blanket or T-shirt.
  • Make sure to pack some piece of clothing or soft toy that is also familiar to the animal. Never put hard toys or other things into the container with your cat as they can become dangerous projectiles during turbulence.
  • For long International flights you may be required to click a water bowl onto the inside of your pets cage to ensure staff can offer adequate hydration throughout extra-long flight-times. Commercial Cargo Carriers come with these included. Again, check with staff at the time of booking the ticket.
  • You can talk to your vet about sedation for the journey.

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