Flying with cats require lots of planning and preparation, months before the actual flight. This is to make sure you get all the right accessories, search for the right airline and to allow the cat to adjust accordingly. Preparation is the only way you can ensure a smooth transition from your home to your travel destination.
Book your flight
A lot of airlines in the United States have different policies and requirements when travelling with pets, cats in specific since cats are not commonly used as support pets. Therefore get all the information from the desired airline before you book the flight.
When booking you must let them know about the pet that will be traveling with you, this is because only a certain number of pets are allowed per flight. Some airlines may allow 4 to 5 pets per flight so make sure you book your flight in advance.
If you early enough and there are still space for pets than you will get further information about travel options and other requirements. You will also need to pay a fee with the price depending on where the cat is going to be traveling in, cabin or cargo.
With each travel option you you will be given certain requirements and the pet policy that must be adhered to. When choosing flights always try to book direct flights since certain unfavourable situations can occur with connecting flights. This can cause further stress, anxiety and exposure to unpleasant temperatures.
For international travel, a health certificate is required and the cat must be free from any pests, internally or externally. Be aware that some flights like southwest airlines dont allow cats to travel internationally.
With international travels it requires more preparation, more food and water as well as a vet recommended sedative, since most long-distance flights take 10-15 hours and it will be stressful for them.
Cost & Travel options for Cats on Airplanes.
The cost varies with different airlines. Airlines have its own pricing policy that must be adhered to. You will want to do proper research of the terms and conditions of the airline as well as the pet policy you intend on travelling with to make sure you get the best deal that suits your travel plan as well as provide the best care for your cat.
While onboard you have two options. The cat can either travel in the cabin or in a separate compartment as cargo. To weigh this option further below are the pros and cons of each option and the fees required.
Cat cargo travel
Pros the cat is placed in a pressurized controlled compartment. Completely safe and comfortable for the cat, provided the cat is in a carrier that’s big enough.
Cons you will be separated from your pet, so if you know your pet is fragile and very sensitive this would not be a good option since during the flight much noises and disturbances may arise. This option is more time consuming since once the plane lands you have to wait for your luggage to be retrieved as well as your pet. There is also a risk that your cat can be misplaced. The general average fee for this travel is $200.
Cat cabin travel
Pros the cat is with you at all times, therefore you would be more relieved. You are able to feed and protect your cat provided you have a good airline approved carrier.
This is the better option since you are able to give assurance and ease the cat in case the cat panic or hyperventilate. This travel option is cheaper and more preferable, prices are as follows.
- Southwest airlines $95
- American airlines $125
- Jet blue airlines $125
- Alaska airlines $100
- United airlines $125
Cons the cat must be small under 20 pounds and must be able to fit between your legs for the full duration of the flight.
NOTE: THE CAT MUST BE WELL-BEHAVED AND SHOULDNT INCONVIENCE ANY PASSENGERS.
Health checks and documentation.
Airlines require a medical health certificate or rather a certificate of veterinary inspection. This certificate is evidence that your cat is physically well and free from pests in order to travel. You will need to consult with your local vet in advance since this process can take long if the cat needs treatment.
The vet will run tests, screening and a full medical workup to make sure your cat is well. This process can be completed in a single consult while in more serious cases treatment is needed over a long period of time. Check up will include.
- Rabies test.
- Check for ticks and fleas.
- Intestinal pests such as worms.
- Flu and infections
- Physical Examination.
Be sure to ask any questions and provide any necessary information that can be crucial to the well being of your feline. This can be things you observed or changes in behaviour or anything that is out of the ordinary. Once the vet is done and if the cat passes all necessary evaluations the vet will issue a health certificate.
The cost is between $120 – $200 depending on how much treatment is needed
Airline Approved Carriers.
When traveling by plan you must know that airlines are very strict. They have there own rules and specifications on carriers. One of the rules are that pets must fly within carriers, but not just any carrier an airline approved carrier.
Carriers that are airline approved are basically strong, good quality, safe, breathable, presentable and space-efficient, however, some airlines may be specific on what they require. There are a variety of different carriers that are airline approved but be sure to get a good suitable one for your feline.
When deciding on purchasing a carrier, you must do so in advance. This will give the cat time to get used to the carrier and not freakout. Cats hate being caught off guard since they do well with routine.
When choosing a carrier, especially for travelling you must take into consideration that it must be big enough according to the cat’s size and height. It should be big enough for a portable litterbox to fit in, if not you can line the carrier with an absorbent potty pad incase the cat needs to relieve itself.
If you have the funds there are really good options of carriers that are packed with features including litterbox, water and food dispensers.
Here are my top 3 recommended Airline approved Carriers.
1. MASKEYON Airline Approved Pet Carrier.
This Multifunctional expandable carrier is perfect for travelling. It has many compartments to carry snacks and other accessories. Its modern design allows for easy to enter and exit while being fully collapsible for storage and it can fit in airline cabins. Its TSA approved for air travels. Get it now on Amazon.
2. Smiling Paws Pets 4-Way Expandable Airline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier.
Designed to comply with TSA and IATA requirements. Carefully sized to comply with domestic and international airlines under-seat in-cabin dimensions for soft-sided pet carriers. Comes in 3 different sizes and is durable, breathable and reinforced perfectly suited for travel. Get it now conveniently from Amazon.
3. Petisfam Soft Pet Carrier for Cats.
The Petisfam soft padded carrier is the best affordable carrier. This airline approved carrier is great to travel with and is suitable for cats under 16 pounds. Its perfect for in cabin travels as its space efficient and it stores well. Comes with seat belt straps included for car or air travel.
Get it now conveniently from Amazon.
Cats aren’t like dogs, they don’t do well with unexpected events and things that are out of routine. Therefore preparation should start months in advance in order to travel smoothly and stress-free.
The first step is to let the cat get used to the carrier. This process can take a few weeks or months as you trying to involve the carrier to its daily routine.
- Encourage the cat to go in the carrier.
- Involve the carrier with play time.
- leave the carrier open at the cats reach so it may attract them to get in. You can add toys or treats to help with this.
- The use of a pheromone spray can help get the cat used to the carrier since the spray mimics the cats natural scent.
Once the cat is used to the carrier you can take them for short rides around the neighborhood or maybe to the vet. This will allow them to get used to different environments, motion and sounds. After all flights can be noisy and turbulent at times.
Leading up to the travel date I would recommend that you allow the cat a little more freedom. Afternoon walks, playing in the park or even tagging them along to shopping malls will greatly help them to adjust to different sceneries and interaction.
Food and water.
Preferably it’s best for cats to travel on an empty stomach to prevent nausea, vomit and defecating. But for flights more than 4 hours its advised that you feed them small meals of dry food. Kibble and treats are perfect since it’s easy and not messy.
The idea is to pack a small bowl of food enough to prevent hunger but not too much to make them full. You should also add a bowl with fresh water. To prevent spills you can get a food and water dispenser that works really well for travel.
For international flights its preferred that the cat is sedated but if not you want to track their meal intake. you can pre pack light meals to prevent them from being hungry.
For air travels vets recommend that you stay away from tranquilizers and heavy sedatives since it can cause health issues for cats with underlying ailments. But it you feel that the flight will be too stressful for the cat you can opt for a good over the counter sedative or natural products that will help with anxiety and stress.
Here are 3 recommended sedative products suitable for Air travels.
Travelling by air requires a few accessories to make the cat more comfortable and to ensure a smooth transition. Here are 10 essential items needed when flying with cats.
1. Cat Carrier that is big enough for the cat to move and turn around, carrier must be airline approved
2. Leash for security screening.
3. Cooling mats, if you traveling along the summer. Checkout the Milliard Thermal mat from Amazon.
4. Calming collar or pheromone spray to help with anxiety.
5. Toys which serves as distraction.
6. Food and water bowls or dispensers.
7. Treats, to keep them going.
8. Portable litterbox or diapers for untrained cats. When using diapers make sure the cat is used to it before the day of travel.
9. Name tag if the cat isn’t Microchipped. Checkout these personalised engraved name tags
10. Motion sickness medication, speak to your vet for the best prescription.
11. Hygiene wipes, zip-lock bags, air freshner.
Before the Flight.
- On the day of the flight arrive early to check-in and make sure that you have all the necessary documents.
- You should also feed the cat 4-6 hours before take-off.
- On the day of departure, all your belongings, as well as the cat’s carrier, need to pass security. This means that the cat must be taken out the carrier in order for the necessary x-ray scans to complete the inspection.
- You will need to have the cat properly leashed and secured until security is done. Once all inspection and checking are complete the cat is not allowed to exit the carrier during the flight.
During the Flight.
During the flight be sure to monitor the cat and watch for any uncommon signs. The cat can sometimes act out of place and can retaliate since cats, in general, don’t like anything either than routine. You need to use positive reinforcement techniques to help the cat alleviate stress.
During the flight you may also feed snacks since its quick digesting and will keep them from from being too hungry.
If the cat defecates or urinate, you want to clean them up since a plane is congested and sometimes people can become upset due to the smell of the cats waste. The use of an air freshener can help.
Before travelling you must pack up on supplies such as disposable wipes, zip lock bags if the cat gets sick or if you need to clean out waste. In some cases, the cat may vomit and you will want to be prepared for it.
Since flights are noisy and very disruptive, you can use ear muffs if the noise is unmanageable since cats hear at a higher pitch then humans.
Some cats become very vocal and agitated during the fight. You can use a pheromone spray or natural calming herbs like chamomile or catnip that will help to keep the cat relaxed.
On arrival, safely make your way out the plane with all belongings. When you reach your required destination release the cat from the carrier and allow room for the cat to calm down. A quiet room will be ideal.
Immediately get back to a routine so that the cat can feel some sense of normality. It will take some time for the cat to adequately adjust to these changes as they will seek your love and affection.
Is it safe for cats to travel by plane? Its completely safe for cats to travel by planes, whether in cabin or compartment. The only concern is noise since cats hear at a higher pitch, but cat earmuffs can be used to help.
How to keep cat calm on a flight? you can use sedatives, calming collars, wipes and sprays that soothes the cat. you can also go for a prescription tranquillizer, be sure to consult your nearest vet.