Tips for Flying with a Cat in the Cabin of a Plane: How to Fly with a Cat?

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

tips for flying with a cat

How to fly with a cat? Air travel can be stressful for cats, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and only take your cat if necessary. Keeping your cat secure from the moment your trip starts is essential, but she also needs to be comfortable. Here are some tips for a stress-free journey with a cat. 

The most important thing to know about flying with a cat is that you should allow your pet to spend time getting used to the carrier beforehand. Introduce your pet to the carriers scent well before you’re due to travel. Spend 10 minutes or so opening and closing the door and putting your cat’s favorite toy inside. Once she shows positive interest, let her explore the carrier.

Here are some tips for flying with a cat in the cabin of a plane and keeping your pet comfortable during the journey. You’ll need a secure cat carrier to keep your cat safe and comfortable.

How to fly with a cat?

How to fly with a cat? Choose the right size of carrier that's safe and well ventilated. Most airlines have rules about the size and weight of the carrier.

First and foremost, you need to contact your airline and find out their policy on flying with a cat in the cabin. I was surprised by how many different airline regulations there are when it comes to this! It really does vary from one airline to another!

Pet fees and the cost of flying with your cat

Your airline may or may not charge an extra fee for carrying your cat in the cabin. Most airlines charge about $100 to $125 to fly with a cat. There may be other costs involved with flying, particularly for international flights. Your cat may need to be vet checked before leaving the country and may also require vaccinations. If you don’t have a cat carrier, you’ll also need to purchase one.

American airlines require

American airlines have different rules and regulations when traveling with a cat. Some require cat owners to book extra airline seat space, while others count cats as carry on luggage. There are also rules about how many pets you can travel with, and the policies may differ for service animals. Many airlines have accessibility guidelines that will tell you precisely what you need to do at each stage of the journey, from check-in, going through the x-ray machine, in-flight to arriving at your destination. Airlines are required to follow federal regulations, which will help keep your pet safe as air transportation can be dangerous to animals.

Most airlines also have limits on the dimensions and weight of the cat’s carrier. Your baggage must meet the requirements.

Get the right size of cat carrier

If you’re planning on traveling with your cat, you’ll need a cat carrier that’s an appropriate size for your pet. The key is to be sure it’s large enough; your pet should be able to turn around easily. While you don’t want the carrier to be too roomy, or your pet may be injured during take-off and landing, there does need to be plenty of headroom so your cat is comfortable. You can choose either a soft-sided travel carrier or a hard-sided carrier.

Ensure the cat's carrier is well ventilated

The carrier must also be well ventilated. There is nothing worse than flying in an airplane when it’s hot and stuffy, so you want to make sure that your pet has enough fresh air while she’s in the carrier. This will keep your pet more comfortable, reducing any stress she may feel about being in the carrier. Most cats will be scared of flying as it’s not something they are used to.

How to fly with a cat? It's best not to let your cat out of the carrier on the plane.

Secure the cat’s carrier

Once you have chosen a secure cat carrier, it’s essential to ensure your cat can’t escape from it. The best way of doing this is by securing it with a bungee cord or something similar.

Once your cat is in the carrier, you need to ensure there are no gaps where she could escape through. If your cat is a known escape artist using a cat harness and leash to keep her in the carrier could be a good idea.

You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘don’t let the cat out of the bag.’ It’s best not to let your cat out of the carrier on the plane. 

How to fly with a cat?: Safety

You need to ensure there are no sharp edges on the carrier that could hurt your cat if she rubs against them during the flight. Ensure no loose straps or crumpled newspapers with staples inside that could injure your pet.

How to fly with a cat: Prepare for mess

Ensure there is some absorbent material such as a blanket or newspaper at the bottom of the cat carrier that can catch any mess. This is particularly important if you are going on a longer trip. It would help if you gave your cat the chance to use the litter box before leaving home and also put a pee pad at the bottom of the carrier.

Things You'll need when traveling internationally with a cat:

  • Pet carrier with puppy potty pad at the bottom
  • A hard or soft-sided carrier
  • A light blanket
  • Prescription sedatives if you have a very nervous cat; although sedating your cat is not recommended in most cases.
  • Small bag with extra pads and latex gloves for clearing up any mess
  • Food, treats, and a water bottle

Health certificate and microchip

You’ll also need to have your cat micro-chipped and ensure her health certificate or pet passport is up to date. Quarantine staff can check whether a cat has been micro-chipped when you arrive at the airport, so ensure it’s done before flying.
It’s a good idea to have your cat microchipped, and it is a requirement for many countries. If you plan on traveling with your cat to Europe, it’s a legal requirement that your cat has an ISO Standard micro-chip.

Health certificates

It’s a good idea to keep all of the vet records and health certificates for your cat in a folder just in case you need them while traveling. Ensure that your pet is up to date with her vaccinations; some countries will require your pet to be vaccinated against rabies.

Should I sedate my cat for flying?

How to fly with a cat? Keep your cat safely in a cat carrier at all times when at the airport and on the plane. This will help reduce anxiety and keep your cat safe, which will mean there's no need for sedation.

It’s always better to try and get your cat used to the carrier before you start taking her on flights, but if it’s necessary to sedate a pet for flying, there are some important things to keep in mind.

You should never sedate an animal that is dehydrated, has a lowered immune system, or is very old. Sedating an animal that is either very young or old could be dangerous. Most vets don’t recommend sedating a cat if it’s used to traveling in a carrier and has no history of fear when being handled.

If your cat is very young or you have to sedate her while flying, it’s best to talk with a vet before trying to take her on an airplane. The ideal age for a pet to fly for the first time is from eight weeks to six months. Younger pets are more likely to take flying in their stride and handle the trip with confidence.

If you have a cat that is very nervous or frightened of flying, it’s best to talk to your vet about sedation before the flight; this will ensure your pet’s safety and comfort. It’s important not to give a cat any medication without checking with a vet first. There can be problems with some medications and sedatives interacting with each other or with allergies.

How to fly with a cat: Final thoughts

Pet transport laws and rules change often, so it’s a good idea to try and keep up-to-date on these by checking online or with your local vet.

When traveling across borders with your cat, it is essential to have all of the necessary documentation ready, just in case there are any delays at border crossings.

The most important thing about traveling with a cat is that your cat feels safe and comfortable during the entire journey. If she’s stressed out, she won’t be herself and will most likely misbehave.

Traveling with a cat is not as easy as traveling with a dog, particularly if you’re planning an extended trip. You can make it easier by having a suitable carriers and knowing about all of the regulations that apply to your pet.

You May Also Like: New Kitten Checklist

If you enjoyed this article, share it with your friends!


Recent cat care articles