How to Travel With a Cat On a Plane

Are you planning on traveling with your cat on a plane but can’t figure out to go about it?

Well you have come to the right place.

The truth is not many cat owners know how to travel with a cat on a plane.

It seems like an enormous task but it really is simple.

As we date down to the Stone Age period, we discover that humans domesticated animals. The modern man later took up the culture and started living with domesticated animals as pets.

The Cro-Magnon man later considered traveling with their pet both locally and internationally.

As we all know, there are various modes of transportation; but that is not what we are here for at the moment.

Let us dive right into how to travel with a cat on a plane.

Gears necessary for traveling with a cat on a plane

  1. Pet carrier.

As previously mentioned, this makes it easy to transport your cat. A suitable one should fit under the seat comfortably and let you check on your cat without unzipping him/her.

You can take a look at some of the best cat carriers for Airline travel on Amazon here.

  1. Leash and harness.

It is highly recommended during security checks because it stops the cat from running away.

The figure-eight style is what I would recommend because it fastens around both the neck and chest, proving it secure.

  1. Sanitary products for flying.

Line your pet carrier with a pee pad and carry extra in case you need to replace it. Pack some all-natural, biodegradable cat wipes for cleaning up.

  1. Collapsible bowl.

It will be helpful during the trip and layovers if your cat needs to eat and take water.

  1. Toys.

Other than treats, toys are another form of distraction.

You may also want to get a treat-dispensing toy for the cat; with this, the cat is privileged to double pleasure: play and eat. Invest in calming toys to deal with anxiety for cats.

  1. Ziplock bags.

They are necessary if the cat helps itself inside the pet carrier. Latex gloves are to accompany the ziplock bags for cleaning to be made easier.

Before Travel.

Cats are very picky animals; they tend to react negatively to unfamiliar situations.

It is best to start accustoming your cat before travel.

The following are some pointers on how to do the prepping for your Minnie panther before traveling on a plane.

  1. Visit a veterinary.

Upon this, get your cat a current health certificate. The certificate is to prove that your cat is healthy and it has all the required vaccines for the destination.

The common vaccines are, for rabies, Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV), Feline Rhinotracheitis (FHV-1), and Feline Calicivirus.

The health certificate must have adhered to the time restrictions. It must also be complete within ten days of a flight.


Do not forget to ask for a microchip for easy identification for your cat. If you already have a microchip, have it scanned to ensure that it still works.

Consult on medicine intake if your cat is on a prescribed medication before travel, the day of travel, and during the journey.

The information will prevent unwanted reactions during the trip. If your vet prescribes a sedative for your cat, kindly do a test run days before travel.

You will be able to tell how your feline friend will react to the medication.

Some cats tend to be very agitated after getting the sedative, unlike the rest, who respond positively to the prescribed drug.

  1. Get a carrier that is in line with the instructions of your preferred airline.

Do your research on this to avoid conflicting with the airline. Make sure the length, width, and height are workable for you and your carrier airline.

You can check out this portable cat carrier for Airline travel on Amazon.

  1. Ensure that the details on your cat’s collar are in line with your documents.

If the information does not correspond, contact the airline to make the required changes; it will save you from a lot of hustle during your trip when checking in and during transfers and layovers.

  1. Invest in a temporary ID tag for your cat’s collar.

Ensure the ID has all your contact information and the address of your destination. The tag should be durable enough to last the travel duration abroad.

  1. Accustom your cat to staying in its carrier.

Doing this is relevant because the cat can be very fussy when it feels uncomfortable. To make your cat familiar with its teleporter, start feeding him/her from inside the pet carrier, preferably a month to your travel season.

Practice closing the door when the cat is inside at regular consecutive intervals. You can also keep the cat’s favorite blanket and toys inside the pet carrier.

Practicing does something to your cat’s psychology in that it will think that the pet carrier is a safe space for him.

  1. Use a calming spray as you train your cat on how to stay in the pet carrier.
  1. Take your cat out for rides in the pet carrier.

Having this done will help the cat comfortable in its environment during motion.

I recommend you to start with short rides then gradually advance to longer ones.

  1. Expose your furball to loud noises.

It will help the cat adapt to airport noises.

With frequent visits to the airport with your cat and regularly playing airport noises in your home, the cat will get accustomed to airport noises.

  1. Give the cat a few trials with the harness and leash at home, out on walks, and drives.

Day of Travel.

Try as much as possible not to change your usual routine. Cats do not respond well to change.

Change brings them stress and anxiety. If possible, maintain your cat’s regular feeding time so that he/she can use the litter box as she/he would.

If the feeding time collides with the travel window, adjust your pet as early as possible.

Consider feeding your pet a few hours (four to six)before the flight if there is nothing much you can do with your cat’s chance of eating: or rather, find flight time that would fall within the cat’s mealtime.

Doing will help get rid of motion sickness.

Make sure to have all your cat’s essentials packed before traveling.

It will avoid confusion on the day set to travel. I also advise you to carry a light blanket.

The blanket will help cover the cat’s carrier. Doing this will keep your cat less exposed to unfamiliar sights and sounds.

In the Airport

Pet carriers go through screening with other bags at the TSA security checkpoint, which means: you will need to take them out of the pet carriers.

For cats, wait for the last possible minute to maneuver the harness, more so if you discovered that the cat hates it during the trial window before traveling.

You could also consider requesting a separate TSA security checkpoint or arrive early to avoid the rush situation.

TSA will not be helpful: have a plan to handle both your luggage and your pet carrier.

During the Flight

A few ways to ease tension in your cat during the flight include:

  • Place a familiar smelling blanket inside the cat’s carrier to provide the same comfort as at home.
  • Give the cat its toys. It is a great distraction.
  • Talk to your cat at occasional intervals.
  • Pat your cat frequently.
  • Award treats for good behavior.
  • Induce a calming spray in the pet’s carrier.

After the Journey.

Immediately after disembarking the plane, give your cat treats to appreciate its cooperation.

Do not expect your cat to retain its usual routine and behavior after the flight.

Expect to see the following from your cat after your voyage:

  • Hiding
  • Change in mood
  • Excessive meowing
  • Failing to make use of the litter box
  • Change in appetite

The symptoms mentioned above should not be a cause of alarm.

Try as much as possible to stick to the routine your cat follows, and gradually, it will adapt to the new environment.

Some of the things you can do to make your cat adopt faster include:

  • Make a centralized spot of comfort for your cat.
  • Make sure your cat’s favorite blanket and toys are in their designated comfort spot
  • Give your cat lots of attention.
  • Award your cat with treats for every progress made with adjusting to the new environment.

With a well-thought-out travel plan, be sure to have a mess-and-stress-free flight.

Quick Summary

Note: Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind while traveling with a cat on a plane.

  • The cat will be happier if it can fly with you in the cabin.
  • Remove any charms and jewelry on your cat’s collar tag.
  • Consult with your doctor to ensure that your cat will be safe when transported in the cargo hold.
  • Preferably book direct flights to limit your cat’s time in the airport.
  • Prioritize traveling with your cat on the same flight and avoid transfers if your cat travels in the cargo hold.
  • Do not travel with your pet when it is too hot or cold.
  • Be sure to suffer consequences if you do not follow your airline’s specifications.
  • Ensure that your documents are dated correctly.
  • Each airline has its policy on pet transportation about the charges and restrictions. Kindly countercheck with your preferred airline in advance to get valid information.

Travel Supplies

  • Make sure your paperwork is easily accessible. Have a backup copy both in hard copy and soft copy. It will be a huge lifesaver during emergencies.
  • Ensure that your pet’s collar tag has valid contact information and address.
  • Keep a photo of your cat and its carrier in case of loss for easy identification.
  • Have puppy pads for the bottom of the carrier to take care of a potty accident. Consider having the puppy pad placed over a thicker, more comfortable pad for traveling in style.
  • Have money on the side for purchasing water for your kitty.
  • Portable litter box and a ziplock bag

Conclusion: How to travel with a cat on a Plane

Traveling with a cat on a plane may not seem quite an easy task at first but if you follow some of the travel tips we shared in this blog post you will find it much easier than you thought.

Meanwhile we would like to hear from you.

How was your last trip with your cat on a plane?

What are some of the unexpected things that happened the last time you traveled on a plane with a cat?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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