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Fly with your Cat on a Plane: 12 Tips for Traveling with Your Cat

  • 12 min read

Are you planning to take your feline friend on a journey? Flying with your kitty might sound daunting, but fear not! Armed with the proper knowledge and a few practical tips, you and your furry companion can embark on a seamless adventure. This comprehensive guide will cover everything you need to know about jetting off with your cat, ensuring a stress-free experience for both of you.

Table of Contents

Can You Fly with Your Cat Internationally? Absolutely!

The prospect of international travel with your cat is possible and opens up exciting possibilities. However, each destination has its unique requirements for feline travelers. These may include immunization records, health certificates, and permits to show on a ticket counter. Before takeoff, discuss with your veterinarian and the flight company to understand the necessary documents for international cat travel.

Preparation and Planning: The Necessary To-Do List

Check-Up Time with the Veterinarian

Before those paws leave the ground, visiting the vet is crucial. It confirms your cat’s fitness for air travel and provides an opportunity to obtain the health certificate required by airlines and destination countries. Ensure immunization, particularly for rabies, is up-to-date, and take the chance to address any concerns about jet off with your cat.

Select a Cat-Friendly Airline

All airlines have their own set of rules and regulations regarding cat or dog travel. Research is critical; identify a flight company that aligns with your and your cat’s needs. Look into cat carrier standards, documentation requirements, and associated pet fees.

Make a Reservation for Your Cat

Most flight companies have limitations on the number of pets allowed in the cabin per flight. Once your travel plans are solidified, reserve a spot for your cats and dogs. During the reservation process, be ready to provide details about your cat’s breed, age, weight, luggage, and any special needs.

Get the Necessary Paperwork

In addition to the health certificate from your vet, you may need to gather additional documents, such as an import permit or proof of immunization for traveling with a cat for the first time. Double-check the requirements of your destination country and ensure all paperwork is organized well before traveling with pets.

cat in a carrier at airport
Source: Daily Paws

Tips for Flying with a Cat Safely

1. Choose the Perfect Feline Carrier

Choosing a furry friend carrier is paramount whether you’re hitting the road or soaring through the skies. Opt for a cozy, secure, and flight company-approved carrier. Hard-sided carriers are often favored for their durability and easy-to-clean design. Cat owners must ensure the carrier provides enough space to stand, turn around, and lounge comfortably. Soft-sided carriers are also viable, provided they meet flight company requirements and offer ample ventilation.

2. Acclimate Your Cat to the Carrier

Reduce pre-flight jitters by getting your cat used to the carrier beforehand. Pop a favorite blanket or toy inside the carrier to make it more inviting. Cat is an emotional support.

3. Prepare for Security Screening

Airport security will ask you to take your cat out of its carrier and walk through the X-ray machine with it on a leash. Make this experience smoother by practicing with a leash and harness before your trip. A calming pheromone spray could help your cat relax during the screening.

4Fly in the cabin

Choose to jet off with your cat in the cabin whenever possible, as this is generally safer than the cargo hold. Check with the flight company beforehand, as pet fees and regulations may vary.

5. Manage Feeding and Hydration

I usually give my cat a light meal 4 to 6 hours before takeoff on flight day. This helps avoid any upset tummies during the journey. Keep your cat hydrated by offering water before, during, and after the flight.

6. Traveling with a Brachycephalic Cat

For some reason, I find bra cephalic cats super adorable. If you own short-skulled cats (a cat with a shortened snout, such as a Persian or Himalayan), you must consult your veterinarian about the risks of flying. Brachycephalic cats can have difficulty breathing, especially in stressful or high altitudes.

7. Be Ready for Layovers and Delays

If layovers are part of your journey, or if you’re concerned about possible delays, pack extra food, water, and medication for your cat. Find out where the pet relief areas are in the airports you’ll be visiting, and be ready to give your cat a break if needed.

8. Monitor Your Cat’s Comfort

Throughout the flight, watch your cat closely to ensure it’s comfy and not stressed. If your cat seems anxious or uncomfortable, softly reassure it with your voice.

9. Ease into Arrival

Once you’ve touched down, give your cat time to adjust to its new environment. Provide food, water, and a litter box as soon as possible, and let your cat explore its new surroundings at its own pace.

10. Stick to Your Cat’s Routine

Keeping a similar routine for your cat to the one you had at home can help your feline friend adjust more quickly to the new environment. Maintain consistent feeding times, playtimes, and sleep schedules.

11. Be Prepared for Emergencies

Identify emergency veterinary services at your destination before you leave. Keep a copy of your cat’s medical records and your regular vet’s contact info handy.

12. Consider a Microchip

microchip can add extra security in case your cat gets lost or separated from you during your travels. Double-check that your contact info is up-to-date on the microchip registry. Ted from you during your travels. Make sure your contact information is up-to-date on the microchip registry.

Cat in a carrier
Source: Pet Keen

Ensuring a Smooth Takeoff

Understanding Airline Policies

Before you embark on your cat-inclusive journey, it’s crucial to acquaint yourself with the policies of the flight company you’ve chosen. Flight companies vary in pet travel regulations, so make sure to delve into the specifics. This includes information on feline carriers, required documentation, and associated fees.

The Ideal Cat Carrier: Your Cat’s Travel Haven

Choosing the perfect feline carrier is akin to selecting your cat’s home away from home. Opt for an airline-approved carrier that provides a secure and comfortable space for your feline companion. Hard-sided carriers are often recommended for durability, while soft-sided carriers can be suitable, provided they meet the flight company’s ventilation and size requirements.

Leash and Harness Training: A Pre-Flight Necessity

Airports can be bustling, and navigating security checks requires your cat to be comfortable on a leash. Practice leash and harness training before your travel date to ensure a smooth and stress-free experience during security screenings. Familiarizing your cat with these accessories in advance can minimize anxiety on the day of your journey.

Deciphering Vaccination Requirements

Vaccinations are a crucial aspect of international cat travel. Ensure your cat’s immunizations, particularly for rabies, are up-to-date, as this is a common requirement for many destinations. Familiarize yourself with the specific immunization regulations of the country you visit, and carry all necessary documentation.

Emotional Support Cats: Knowing Your Cat’s Rights

If your cat serves as an emotional support animal, it’s necessary to be aware of the specific rules and regulations that apply. Some airlines allow emotional support cats in the cabin, but the process might involve additional documentation. Check with your airline in advance to ensure a seamless journey for you and your emotional support feline.

Cabin vs. Cargo: Weighing the Options

While most pet owners prefer having their cats in the cabin, using the cargo hold might be the only option. This is more common for larger breeds or when flying on airlines with specific restrictions. Understand the pros and cons of each option and choose based on your cat’s comfort, airline policies, and travel circumstances.

Feeding and Hydration Strategies

Maintaining your cat’s well-being during the flight involves strategic planning, especially concerning food and water. Offering a light meal a few hours before takeoff can prevent upset stomachs while providing water regularly ensures your cat stays hydrated throughout the journey.

Onboard Comfort for Your Short-skulled Cats

Extra considerations are needed if you’re the proud owner of a short-skulled cat. These breeds, such as Persians or the Himalayas, may face breathing difficulties in high-stress situations or at high altitudes. Please consult with your vet about the specific needs of your short-skulled cats and take necessary precautions for their well-being.

Layovers and Delays: Preparedness Pays Off

Long journeys often involve layovers and potential delays, impacting your cat’s comfort. Packing extra supplies, including food, water, and necessary medications, ensures you’re well-prepared for unexpected situations. Researching pet relief areas in airports beforehand allows you to give your cat a break during layovers.

Post-Landing Transition: Helping Your Cat Settle In

Touching down in a new environment can be overwhelming for your cat. Ease the transition by providing familiar items like their favorite blanket or toy. Please set up a designated area with necessities like food, water, and a litter box, allowing your cat to explore their new surroundings at their own pace.

Maintaining Routine for a Happy Cat

Cats thrive on routine, and maintaining familiarity can greatly ease travel stress. Stick to regular feeding times, play sessions, and sleep schedules as closely as possible, helping your cat adjust to the new environment more smoothly.

Emergency Preparedness: A Travel Necessity

No one likes to think about emergencies, but being prepared is vital. Identify emergency veterinary services at your destination and keep a copy of your cat’s medical records, including any necessary medications. This readily available information ensures quick and efficient assistance in unexpected situations.

The Microchip Advantage

Considering a microchip for your cat provides an added layer of security. In the unfortunate event of separation, a microchip significantly increases the chances of a swift reunion. Confirm that your contact information is up-to-date on the microchip registry before traveling.


With the proper prep and planning, traveling with a cat on a plane is possible and can be an excellent experience for both of you. Following these tips and talking to your vet can ensure a safe and enjoyable journey with your perfect companion. Do you have any other tips to share? Feel free to add in the comments below.


Q: Can I bring my cat on a plane as a travel bag?

A: Many airlines allow cats to travel in the cabin as travel bag pets. It’s essential to check with your specific airline for their policies and regulations regarding bringing a cat on board.

Q: What are the requirements for flying with my cat in the cabin?

A: Typically, cats must be in a pet carrier that is small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. The carrier should be collapsible and meet the airline’s maximum dimensions for a carry-on bag.

Q: Do I need to pay an extra fee to bring my cat on the plane?

A: Most airlines require passengers to pay a fee to bring a pet on board. You must check with your airline about the specific fee and any additional requirements for flying with a cat.

Q: Can my cat sit with me during the flight?

A: If your cat is traveling in the cabin as a carry-on, they will need to stay in their carrier under the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight.

Q: How should I prepare my cat for their first flight?

A: Before jetting off with your cat, it’s necessary to familiarize them with their pet carrier and traveling. You can also consult your vet for advice on preparing your cat for the journey.

Q: Can my cat travel with me on international flights?

A: Some airlines allow cats to travel internationally as carry-on pets, but there may be specific requirements and regulations for bringing a cat on an international flight. Contacting the airline and understanding the necessary documentation and procedures is essential.

Q: Are there specific regulations for traveling with an emotional support cat?

A: Airlines have different policies regarding emotional support animals, including cats. It’s essential to check with the airline and the US Department of State for any specific requirements and documentation for flying with an emotional support cat.

Q: Can I feed my cat during the flight?

A: It’s recommended to feed your cat a light meal a few hours before the flight to avoid any discomfort. You can also carry some wipes to clean up any mess during the journey.

Q: How should I ensure my cat is comfortable during the flight?

A: To ensure your cat is comfortable during the flight, ensure their carrier is well-ventilated and lined with a familiar blanket or towel. Knowing your cat and their needs is essential to make the travel experience as stress-free as possible.

Q: Are there any specific security procedures for traveling with a cat?

A: When going through security, you must remove your cat from their carrier and carry them through the metal detector while the carrier goes through the X-ray machine. Be prepared for this process and ensure your cat is securely leashed or in a harness for safety.

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Anum Basit

Anum Basit

Anum Basit is the founder of PurrfectJourney, a cat travel blog that provides expert insights and advice for cat owners who love to travel. As a lifelong cat lover, Anum has gained extensive knowledge and experience in the field of cat travel. She understands the unique challenges that cat owners face when traveling with their feline companions and is committed to providing informative and engaging content that helps them navigate these challenges with ease. Anum's passion for cat travel has inspired her to create a platform where cat owners can find valuable information and resources for traveling with their furry friends. Follow her on PurrfectJourney for the latest insights and tips on cat travel!