Can Cats Fly Alone, Unaccompanied?

Most probably you stuck in a situation where you seperated from your cat and now you want them to return home. Luckily this is very common as alot of people require their cats to be relocated without being accompanied.

Cats as well as other pets are allowed to fly unaccompanied or without any traveler present. The most important step is to choose a pet friendly airline that is trustworthy and reliable for the safety of your pet. To be specific the airline must have controlled cargo holds.

When flying a cat alone you need someone to bring them to the cargo part of the airport inside an approved crate or carrier. The person must include some food and water incase the cat gets hungry since flights get delayed all the time. For longer flights I would prefer you add a portable litterbox so the cat can relieve itself or you can line the crate with absorbent padding.

I also recommend a calming collar or a few drops of calming spray to help the cat deal with the stress and anxiety, however, stay away from tranquillizers as it may be harmful with air travel. Afterall the cat needs some sort of coping mechanism since they don’t do well with travelling. Here are other effective safe sedatives to use when travelling.

If you adopting a cat from a breeder make sure you get all the right information and only allow the travel if the cat is emotionally healthy to deal with the stress. You will need a reliable breeder to trust their advice. Cats that are prone to motion sickness must be given proper medication from a vet to help with the nausea and vomit.

Upon arrival at the airport the person will be required to fill out some paper work and drop the cat off in the cargo hold until the cargo is loaded onto the plane. An health certificate is also required to state that the cat is healthy enough for travel.

In the cargo hold the cat will be amongst other pets and luggage traveling to the same destination. The cargo hold was intentionally designed for cargo (luggage) but pets are allowed anyway. Therefore make sure that the airline you traveling with have controlled temperature regulations.

If not, the tempretures in the cargo hold is going to reach extreme levels depending on when they are shipped. This can be fatal and could cause the cat to be severely affected and stressed having to undergo such harsh conditions.

On arrival you need to have the right paper work and shipping information to get your cat released. When the cat arrives home you want to give them some time to calm down and adjust. Leave them in a quite room for some time with food and water.

How to Choose an Airline to Ship your Cat ?

The most important thing is to choose a reliable and safe airline. Make sure that the airline caters for live pets and treat them accordingly. Not all airlines have controlled cargo holds therefore the tempretures can vary greatly. In summer the tempreture can be extreme and in winter the temp could easily drop to 7-10 degrees Celsius.

This is because the aircraft may not be insulated in the cargo hold like in the passengers deck and the primary goal of course is to keep passengers comfortable, not the luggage. Therefore it’s essential that the airline have pressurized and controlled cargo holds.

When looking for an airline, if possible, select an airline that offers a non-stop route to your destination. This will prevent additional stress on the cat, of having to go through customs and the entire process again.

Also, remember that airlines do not interline pets. If the cat is going to be changing airlines you will need someone to help with the switch and checkup on the cat before sending them off on the next flight.

Airlines That Allow Cats to fly Alone ?

Not all major airlines in America allow cats or other pets to travel alone, but the ones that do, have their own policies and instructions that must be followed. Airlines that allow pets to travel in cargo include:

1. Alaska.

Alaska Airlines welcome domesticated pets to travel in a climate controlled cargo compartment. Approval is based on a few requirements, such as:

  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks old and weaned.
  • Only one cat per kennel, must be 6 months and older to travel in the cargo compartment.
  • Pets must be harmless and not destructive.
  • Pets must have sufficient food within 4 hours of check-in.
  • Alaska airlines do not transport pets to other airlines with connector flights.
  • Health Certificate required within 10 days of travel.
  • Tranquillizers not reccomended since it could affect the cat at high altitudes.

2. American.

American airlines allow both cats and dogs to be transported as cargo on a first come basis.

  • Pets must be over 8 weeks to fly and check up if the breed of your pet is allowed before booking.
  • Have the right kennel. Must be strong, escape proof, breathable and secured.
  • Reservations can be made within 24 hours but not longer than 10 days.
  • Pets must be sufficiently fed and attach a bag of food to the kennel.
  • Pets must be dropped off and reconfirm that the tempretures are in the safe range.
  • You can track your cats flight if you signed up or you can check online using the air way bill.

3. United.

With united airlines your pets well being is their priority. Pets get to travel in a climate controlled (45-80°F), pressurized compartment. Pets are only loaded before take-off to minimize stress and anxiety.

  • Pets must be at least 8 weeks.
  • Pets must be healthy and strong enough to handle the stress of flying.
  • Cat breeds like Burmese, exotic shorthair, Himalayan and persians are not allowed to fly. This is due to certain traits and attributes that are unfavourable when flying.
  • Detailed Health Certificate required as well as a scanned copy of the acknowledgement form and a picture of the cats kennel.
  • A digital picture of the cat is also required to confirm breed.
  • Approval of the cat will ultiultimately depend on inspection.

4. Delta.

Delta airlines offers safe and reliable shipping of pets without anyone accompanying them. When shipping off a pet, you are required to drop off the pet at a delta cargo location at least 3 hours before departure and somone needs to fetch the pet on arrival.

Shipping with delta airlines require:

  • Health Certificate from a licensed Veterinarian within 10 days of travel.
  • Certificate must be signed and dated by the vet. It should also include the shippers name and address.
  • Cat must be at least 8 weeks old and fully weaned ( accustomed to food )

Remember pets that are shipped domestically via Delta Cargo can only be booked 14 days prior to departure.

The Cost of Flying A Cat.

The average cost of flying a pet in cargo is dependent on how far the cat needs to be transported and the size of crate.

Normally on a domestic flight with a pet-friendly airline the price ranges from $250-$300. For larger pets the prices may increase and can go up to around $500-$1000.

For international flights the cost can be anywhere from $1000-$3000. To learn more about pricing and other travel options check out my previous article.

Weather Flights Restrictions.

Most airlines in America have restrictions on pet travel in certain seasons. Seasons that are associated with extreme tempretures restricts the pet shipping program.

This same restriction includes weather where tempreture exceeds 80° F ( 27°c ) or falls below 20° F ( -7°c ). This is to protect pets and keep them while on board.

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