Medical Considerations for Cat Airline Travel

If you're travelling with your cat, airline staff need to know well in advance. That way, you can be fully prepared for the trip and help make it as relaxed as possible for your cat.

How to Prepare for Airline Travel

There are several things to take into consideration before you start travelling with your cat.

  • Try and take a direct flight. If you are not taking a direct flight to your destination, your pet's carrier may be left outside for a period of time. Both yourself and the airline will want to know whether your pet will be suited to the local temperature. Often airlines avoid liability by asking for a note from your vet confirming that your cat is acclimated to specific temperatures. With connections, there is always an increased risk that baggage may go missing and this could be dangerous for your cat.
  • Check if your destination will require your cat to be quarantined upon arrival.
  • Take your cat for a check-up before travelling to make sure he is fit to do so. This is particularly important for older cats or those with existing health conditions. You may need to take medication on your trip with you, so make sure that you will have enough. Depending on where you are travelling to, you may not be able to buy certain foods or medicines there, so you'll have to take an extra supply with you.
  • Make sure your cat's vaccinations are up to date and check the vaccine requirements of your destination. You will probably be asked to show a vet's certificate upon arrival, confirming that your cat is fully vaccinated.
  • Ask the airline staff if they will let your cat stay in the cabin with you. Some airlines allow certain types of carriers and pets into the cabin, but this needs to be checked well in advance of the time you are travelling.

Choosing a Flight Cage

Your cat could be spending a lot of time in his flight cage so it is important to get him one he will feel comfortable in. Many pet shops and airlines sell cages that are suitable for air travel.

  • The cage should be large enough for your cat to stand up and turn around in, but not too large. If there is too much room inside, he could be injured during turbulence.
  • The sides should be strong and it should have good ventilation.
  • The water tray should be accessible from the outside so more water can be added during the flight

During the Flight

It might be difficult to feed your cat during the flight but it is important to make sure it has plenty of water. Also make sure that the pet carrier has your contact details on it so that if anything happens, someone will be able to identify it as yours.

Many travellers consider sedating their pets while travelling. Sedation can help calm your cat down, but shouldn't be given without seeking your vet's advice first. Cats are very sensitive to some medicine so if you feel that sedation is necessary, only use drugs that have been prescribed by your vet.

There are extra things to take into consideration when travelling with your cat but provided you plan well in advance, both you and your cat should arrive at the destination happy, healthy and ready for the next stage of the journey.