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Home > Cats > How to Fly With a Cat: 7 Vet-Approved Tips for a Smooth Flight

How to Fly With a Cat: 7 Vet-Approved Tips for a Smooth Flight

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Flying with a cat doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. With some planning and preparation, you can sail through check-in, speed through airport security, and make it through your flight without breaking a sweat!

The hard part is arranging all of the details ahead of time! While many cats prefer to stay at home, others are happiest exploring the world by their human companion’s side. If you have an adventurous cat at home that you’d love to take with you as you explore the world, there are a few things you can do to make your journey more relaxed. Keep reading for seven tips for a smooth flight with your cat.

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The 7 Tips on How to Fly With a Cat

1. Be Prepared

A few safety measures should be in place before hitting the road with your cat. Ensure they’re microchipped, and the proper registry has your current contact information. Consider outfitting your pet with an ID tag featuring their name and your cell phone number so you can be quickly contacted in the event of an emergency or escape attempt. Take copies of your cat’s proof of vaccination in case you need to produce them at some point during your trip.

cat microchip getting scanned at vet
Image Credit: Lucky Business, Shutterstock

2. Pick the Right Carrier

Most airlines have specific requirements regarding pet carriers for in-cabin travel, including size and weight limits. Pets usually need to have enough room to stand and turn around comfortably. The carrier should also be leakproof and ventilated.

Give your cat plenty of time to investigate the carrier so they’re comfortable spending time in it on the big day, and practice getting them into and out of it to ease the process when it’s time to go through security.


3. Make the Carrier Cozy

Cats must stay in their carriers while at the airport and at all times during flights, so making your buddy’s traveling home cozy can provide a positive experience for your cat. Consider putting a few items that smell like you in the carrier.

An old T-shirt you’ve worn, or your cat’s favorite blanket can provide comfort and give them a place to snuggle during the trip. Don’t forget to add a puppy pad to the bottom of the carrier to absorb liquid if your cat gets sick or has to go to the bathroom.


4. Be Ready for Security

When heading through security, you must take your cat out of the carrier and hold them while going through the scanner. Cats sometimes become nervous due to the hustle and bustle of airports, so having a quality harness to keep your cat under control while getting through security can prevent escapes.

Spend time allowing your cat to become accustomed to wearing their harness for extended periods so they can comfortably endure the contraption for the entire time you’re in transit.

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5. Pack an Essentials Bag

Make sure to have a few essentials on hand for emergencies, such as extra cat food and cleaning supplies. Have collapsible food and water bowls on hand and a few of your cat’s favorite treats and food, just in case of a delay. Throw in any medication your pet takes and a few extra absorbent pads in case they have an accident. Be prepared with supplies to clean things up if your cat throws up or uses the bathroom.

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6. Avoid Pre-Travel Dining

Many veterinarians recommend not giving pets food on the morning you plan to travel to prevent them from becoming sick while flying. It can also make it less likely that you’ll need to deal with your cat having a bowel movement while on the way to the airport or during the flight. Your veterinarian can advise you on how long before your flight to give your cat their last snack or meal.


7. Speak With Your Veterinarian

If your cat has a particularly nervous disposition and you’re concerned traveling might make them anxious, consider making an appointment to speak with your veterinarian about ways to make the trip easier on their nerves.

A few prescription medications may help mellow your cat out during the trip, but remember that many airlines don’t permit sedated pets onboard. There are also pheromone sprays and anti-anxiety shirts that sometimes help anxious cats stay calm while on the go.

man holding cat in vet clinic
Image Credit: VGstockstudio, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

With proper planning, you can sit back and relax while flying with your cat. On the day of the flight, you can do a few things to help your feline make it through the flight comfortably. Ensure you have a good harness to keep your kitty safely under control during security checks and ensure you have a carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. Soft-sided carriers are often easier to manage while in transit. Have a bag ready to go with everything necessary for the day, including a few cleaning supplies, and give your cat lots of time to adjust to the carrier beforehand so they’re comfortable when the big day arrives.


Featured Image Credit: Lightspruch, Shutterstock

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