Tips for Flying with Your Cat

Tips for Flying with Your Cat

Most cats thrive on routine and they feel safe and comfortable in familiar surroundings. Most cat owners already know that the smallest disruption in a cat’s routine can make it feel stressed and anxious. New people coming into the house, vacuuming or even loud music are just some of the many things that can easily scare a cat. Flying with your cat can also be a stressful experience for them, especially when they have to travel in the cargo area, away from you. Most of the times, a plane journey can’t be avoided. If you have to make arrangements for your cat to join you, these are some of the things you should consider while organizing everything.

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1. Contact the Airline and Request all the Information You Need for Flying with Your Cat

The first step in planning your journey is to do your homework in advance. Research various airlines and compare costs and requirements. If you have to choose between taking your cat in the airplane cabin and transporting them in the cargo area, always pick the former. The cat will sit snugly and comfortably under the seat in front of you and will be comforted by your presence, even if it can’t see you at all times.

Taking your cat in the cabin might not be an option for certain flights. If your pet has to fly in the luggage area, make sure to inform all flight attendants you are travelling with a pet. They will remind the pilot to maintain the right temperature in the cargo pet area.

Each airline has specific guidelines when it comes to crate size and type. In addition to a secure lock, the carrier should also have a bowl for water and sturdy handles. You will also have to find out what documents you need to fly with your cat: passport, microchip, vaccines and a veterinary-signed health certificate to confirm its overall health. Flying with your cat can be stressful for the owner as well. If you need a helping hand in organizing the journey, you can hire an air transport company for cats that will guide you through all the steps of the process and ensure your cat travels safely and comfortably.

2. Buying a Crate or a Carrier

After researching the airline’s requirements, try to buy your cat’s crate or carrier well in advance of your flight. Your cat needs time to acclimate to it and become comfortable with spending hours inside. The carrier’s size should be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you while still giving your cat enough space to wiggle around. A soft sided carrier will fit under the seat easier and will be comfy for your pet.

Familiarize your cat to the crate or carrier prior to the flight. If possible, leave it out from the moment you buy it. In order to create a positive association with it, try to feed your cat in the travel carrier. Place toys and a blanket inside it in order to entice them to go in for a nap or to play.

You should also exercise entering and exiting the carrier. This will make it easier for your cat to come out during security checks when they will be screened just like you. Make sure your cat is comfortable wearing a harness and a leash. This will keep them from running away in the airport during security screenings. It also allows you to give them breaks to stretch their legs with the peace of mind that they won’t run away.

3. Talk to Your Veterinary about Flying

You should schedule an appointment with your cat’s veterinary as soon as you start planning your journey. The doctors will be able to give you information that suits your cat’s needs. They will also walk you through all the paperwork you need to fill out and have on you when you’re flying.

Make a list with all of your concerns and ask your vet about anything you need to know. Most veterinarians recommend not feeding your cat 8 – 10 hours before flying. This prevents them from getting sick or nauseous. However, make sure your cat always has a fresh supply of water.

Depending on your destination, your veterinary will suggest an array of mandatory vaccines. Make sure all the vaccines show up in your cat’s health certificate or passport in order to avoid any issues at the customs.

4. Additional Things to Keep in Mind When Planning Your Flight

You can avoid surprises or unexpected situations during your journey by being prepared and doing a lot of research in advance. Here are some important tips to keep in mind when it comes to flying with your cat:

  • The airline can restrict the number of pets that are traveling in the cabin or in the cargo area. This is why it is always best to book your tickets way in advance.
  • Always choose non-stop flight and avoid layovers at all costs. Minimizing the time your cat spends in their carrier will reduce stress and travel anxiety levels for both of you.
  • Your cat will move with you through the security checkpoint at the airport. Their carrier will be screened along with your carry-on or bag and you will have to hold your cat in your arms while passing through the full body scanner.
  • Keep your cat in its carrier throughout the entire duration of the flight. Even if your cat sounds stressed out or is meowing loudly, refrain from taking them out of their travel carrier. Instead, reassure them with a calm, soothing voice that everything will be ok. Talking to them really helps.
  • Always consult your veterinary if you want to give your cat sedatives. If your cat doesn’t travel well, you can resort to mild sedatives. Be sure to test them in advance at home to check if there are any side effects and if your cat responds well to the treatment.
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29 thoughts on “Tips for Flying with Your Cat

  1. IreneDesign2011 says:

    Why did you remove the like and share bottons down the post, where they don’t disturb anything?
    Very good post and I will add, that many flight companies demand a hard box for cats in a special size approved from traveling in flights to avoid, the cats have a chance to open and escape at the travel. They also did that, when I moved to Spain and brought cats inside the cabin. I paid the same for their tickets, as for my own, but the cage needed to stand at the floor down these seats, while flying.

      • Marc-André says:

        Ah I didn’t remove them. Seems like the WordPress bug that I’ve been flagging to them for months without any joy of getting it fixed…

        Can I mention your username to them to see if they can finally figure it out?

        Also can you confirm if you are using the iPhone or Mac app or which browser you are using to access our blog?

        The lack of the buttons displaying certainly could explain why there hasn’t been much engagement on this post to begin with! 🙁

    • Marc-André says:

      I personally find it a scary prospect having to move with cats by plane. But a friend of mine had to do it. He moved to an island with his wife and cat

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  4. Teagan R. Geneviene says:

    Thanks for the info. I’m scared to death of putting Crystal on a plane. I doubt I’ll ever move to a place where I can’t drive to get there… She’s so ridiculously sensitive (inflammatory bowel disease, fear aggression sometimes from the meds…) I don’t know if she could handle it. I hear there is one airline that lets you fly with them (rather than the cargo hold)… but even that worries me. Hugs.

    • Marc-André says:

      There are a few airlines that allow this in Europe to other countries. From the U.K. out (or in) it’s more difficult

  5. kedecat says:

    So, for relocation to the U.K., my cat Kede travelled with me in the cabin from Corfu to Athens and then Athens to Paris. I got a really good pet travel bag on wheels for £35 from eBay (brand new) (approx $45) all padded and really good for under the seat in front of me. I had a long layover in Athens so booked a pet-friendly Airbnb to stay for a few hours, which I would really recommend if you have a long connection time between any flights. The other trauma-time was taking her out of the bag to go through the airport x-ray scanner. For this, I used a firm harness (put on her the day before) so I had something to grab if she wanted to make an escape bid. Which she didn’t; she was too terrified. I fed her little dried food especially for sensitive stomachs (cats who are recovering from diarrhoea) as this keeps them even more constipated than they are already due to stress. She was so, so good throughout. Finally, my husband met me at Paris CDG whereupon we then drove to Calais and visited the Pet Centre to show her Pet Passport and microchip test then entry to the U.K. via Eurotunnel. Cheaper, easier and less traumatic for Kede.

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  7. weggieboy says:

    Some breeds (specifically Persians) can’t be flown because of the risk to the kitties brought on by their short muzzles. You definitely need to check our the airline’s policy on transporting them as they may not allow them.

  8. simon7banks says:

    Tips for flying with your cat:

    1: Place cat on furniture, e.g. bed, chair

    2: Flap your arms while making encouraging noises to cat

    3: Jump and continue flapping arms.

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