Cat inside a plane toy.

Traveling Your Cat by Air

If you are planning to transport your pet by plane, consult a veterinarian before your trip to determine whether your pet has any medical conditions that may prohibit such travel. For example, should significant temperature and/or pressure fluctuations occur during flight, they could be harmful to a pet suffering from an underlying heart condition.

Since different companies may have different policies, check ahead of time with the airline concerning its travel rules and requirements for pets. Many airlines will allow you to take a cat or small dog into the cabin with you; however, realize that for the comfort of you and fellow passengers, it must be well behaved and silent during the trip.

If you fear that these two criteria will not be met, your pet should travel cargo. If your cat is to travel cargo, book either an early evening or early morning flight during the summer months and midday flights during winter months to protect it from exposure to temperature extremes. Also, book direct flights only so that there’s no chance of “lost baggage.”

If possible, plan on arriving early enough at the gate so that you can observe your pet being loaded onto the plane. If you own a pet carrier that is not fit for air travel, most airlines have carriers for rent; however, be sure that the carrier selected for your pet is the proper size for its safety during the flight.

Call ahead of time to confirm carrier availability. You will want to pad the inside of the carrier liberally with large blankets and/or towels. And don’t forget to throw in one of your  cat’s favorite toys! A “live animal” sticker, as well as your name, address, and phone number, should be attached conspicuously to the outside of the carrier.

Avoid feeding your pet solid food within 6 hours of the plane trip. Provide a constant source of water during the flight by freezing water in a water bowl the night prior to your trip and placing this in your pet’s carrier prior to the flight.