Flying With Your Cat: What You Need To Know

It's important to know what you are getting into when it comes to flying with your cat. In order to make your cat as careful as possible, you'll need to get some supplies.

Prepare Your Cat

Get a recent health certificate for your pet one to two weeks prior to the flight. It is equally important that your cat has a collar, a leash and ID tag.

A flight is a stressful experience for cats; however tranquilizing your pet might be risky as high altitude can cause high blood pressure. A cat with a heart condition should avoid flights.

If it's going to be a long flight, you should put some food and a carrier-approved travel crate inside your pet's kennel.

If you travel to a foreign country, you might need to do some research on whether your cat needs a passport, and any necessary vaccinations. There is no standard rule for all countries.

Ask Airline about the Options of Flying Your Cat

You have two options of carrying your cat when flying: in the passenger cabin and as checked baggage. Not all airlines will allow a cat in the cabin, however, so be sure to check in advance.

Choosing the passenger cabin for your cat means that you need to comply with a few plane regulations. A cat travel cage is a must and will be placed under a seat.

Ask your airline in advance about whether you need to purchase an additional ticket, and any other rules and restrictions you need to know about.

Cat Kennel Size

When booking your flight, see what the maximum allowed kennel size is. Generally, the accepted sizes are:

  • height 21 inches
  • width 13 to 16 inches
  • height up to 8 or 9 inches

The size of the cat cargo should allow your pet to stand up, turn and lie down. A soft kennel with a sturdy zipper is an acceptable cat cargo.

The kennel should have ventilation on two sides.

The alternative cat travel solution is the kennel as checked baggage. This is a great choice for larger cats that need a more spacious cage. However, keep in mind this may actually be the only option, depending on the airline and destination.

When your cat is checked as baggage, the kennel must be a hard cage (i.e. made of plastic) so as to ensure the safety of your pet. Your cat travel cage will be tagged as special baggage and will stay in a heated and ventilated area throughout the flight. This might be a better solution for cats, as this room is dark and quiet and might cause less stress than the inevitable noisiness of the passenger cabin.

Whichever of the two you might opt for make sure to add a clearly readable tag on your cat cargo including your name, home address and a phone number. Also, include a "Live Animal" sign on all sides of your pet's kennel.

Prepare for the Check-in

At the check-in, have your tickets ready as well as the cat's health certificate. The cat cargo will be x-rayed, but remember that the cat should be out of the kennel during this process. In the meantime, your cat might be assessed to see that it looks fit for air travel.

You will need to sign a formal declaration.