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Can Cats Travel by Air?

  • 7 min read

Easily take your cat with you on a plane

Have you already been on many car trips with a cat? You know the torture of moving your four-legged friend into the transport box when the vaccination is due at the vet? Traveling with velvet paws is exhausting – for two and four-legged friends.

But it is not always possible to avoid cats traveling with you over longer distances. A very special adventure awaits the four-legged friend during longer stays abroad or when moving house – the cat has to get on the plane.

cat in airplane

Can I travel with the cat on the plane?

The provisions in this regard are so different that it is not possible to go into individual airlines here. Before transporting the animal, find out more directly from the airlines. Provisions are often subject to current developments and can change on an ongoing basis.

Cats can usually be taken on a flight. However, the mode of transportation is different. Some airlines do not allow pets to travel in the cabin and your pet will have to make do with the luggage compartment.

If the cat is to be transported in the cabin of the aircraft rather than in the cargo hold, certain specifications regarding the size and weight of the cat box must be observed.

A transport bag made of fabric that is approved for the aircraft is usually preferred. You need to check with the airline for size and weight. It is also important that you register your four-legged friend when you make your booking. Often a fee has to be paid or you have to switch to another flight because several pets are already flying.


 When traveling abroad, the entry requirements of the destination country apply.


How do I prepare my cat for a plane trip?

In order to reduce the stress of a flight, the animal should be made aware of the big day before departure. First of all, the cat has to become familiar with the transport box . It is advisable to buy a new box for the flight. With the box known from visits to the vet, the stress for the cat begins at the mere sight.

Set up the new box in the room, ensure a cuddly and inviting interior and give your pet the opportunity to take a look at the transport bag. After initial skepticism, most animals soon like their new retreat.

Many animal lovers consider using tranquilizers. If the cat is to be transported on the plane, this method is not recommended and is even prohibited by some airlines. The reason is that the effects of the drugs in the air are amplified in such a way that the effects on the animal cannot be predicted.

You can use globules or Bach flowers instead. Consult a veterinarian for advice on this. Toys filled with catnip or valerian  can also be used to distract and soothe many animals .

Cat in Carrier at airport

What do I have to consider if I want to transport my cat on an airplane?

The stress already begins at the airline’s security checkpoint. Cats that are allowed to travel in the passenger cabin on the plane must be taken out of the box during the inspection. Ask for a separate, closed room for this. Escaped and frightened cats can quickly wreak havoc throughout the airport. This is a good argument for providing an extra room.

For your cat, the holiday on the plane begins as anything but relaxed. The reactions of the four-legged friends can be very different. Some animals become apathetic, while others panic and start meowing and panting loudly.

No matter what situation you face with your four-legged friend, make sure you leave the transport bag closed. On long-haul flights it will be necessary to feed the animals or at least offer them liquids.

Cat treats in the form of creams and pastes can encourage the animals to swallow and thus help to equalize the pressure in the air. If the cats refuse to drink, you can use a disposable syringe to wet the oral mucosa with water.

The air conditioning usually ensures pleasant coolness in the plane. Cats don’t like drafts. A cloth over the transport bag can be helpful. Transport boxes with grids or transport bags with windows that can be opened variably ensure an advantageous exchange of air.

After the flight is before the flight

After landing at the destination airport, the stress is usually not over yet. If you fly abroad, you have to go through customs control. This does not always show interest in your fellow animal traveler. In any case, have your vaccination card, health certificate and other important documents ready.

Arriving at the destination, the cat first needs rest. It is best to place the transport box in a quiet and slightly darkened room. This offers a counterpoint to the sensory overload of the past few hours. The outward and return flights should not be too close together so that the cat has ample opportunity to recover from the stress of travel.

Cat at airport

What practical tips and tricks are there for transporting cats safely on an airplane?

The transport box is very important when you are traveling with the cat on the plane. When purchasing, find out whether the boxes are suitable for transport on airplanes. If your darling is to be taken into the passenger compartment, the boxes must not be too large and bulky and must not exceed the dimensions of typical hand luggage.

Like any other piece of luggage, the transport box should have its own place. Slide the box under the front seat or stow the cat box above the seats in the luggage rack.

Some airlines limit not only the dimensions of the transport box, but also the weight of the four-legged friend. So it can happen that your little chubby has to make do with the cargo hold. With the weight limit being around eight kilograms, some larger and heavier breeds can literally feel tight in the cargo hold:


 Cats with narrowed airways due to their breed can experience shortness of breath during the flight and are at serious health risk. These include British Shorthair, Persian, Exotic Shorthair, Scottish Fold or Himalayan cat.  

If you want to take the cat box into the cabin, its dimensions must not exceed 55 x 40 x 20 centimeters.

Should I get my cat vaccinated before flying?

If you want to transport your cat on a plane, there are a few things to consider. For travel to EU countries you need an EU pet passport and a current rabies vaccination. The first vaccination must be given at least 21 days before the travel date. This waiting time is not necessary for booster vaccinations.

In many EU countries, the animals have to be chipped. When returning from non-EU countries, antibody detection for rabies is often necessary. You can find out which conditions apply from the embassy of the destination country. 

The antibody detection for rabies is currently valid for the following travel countries:

  • Türkiye
  • Tunisia
  • Egypt
  • Morocco
  • Thailand
  • South Africa

Antibody detection is not required when returning from the following countries:

  • USA
  • You have
  • Australia
  • Great Britain
  • New Zealand                           

Find out in advance about the entry regulations of the respective destination country so that you do not experience a nasty surprise on site. We wish you and your cat a pleasant journey.

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Hamna Nasir is a dedicated cat lover, avid traveler, and accomplished author. Born and raised in the bustling city of San Francisco, Hamna's education journey led her to Boston where her interests expanded and intersected in unexpected ways. Hamna's ontent explores a multitude of topics, from preparing your cat for its first trip and choosing pet-friendly accommodations to understanding feline behavior in different environments. Her first-hand experiences, love for storytelling, and unwavering commitment to enhancing the bond between cats and their owners have earned her a devoted following. Her insights have been celebrated by pet lovers, adventure enthusiasts, and travel bloggers alike.