A successful flight with your cat begins LONG before the actual day of travel! It requires planning and preparation in order to make the experience as stress-free & enjoyable as possible for both you AND your cat!
- Do Your Homework!
- Confirm that your cat can travel in the airplane cabin with you under the seat in front of you; avoid transporting your cat in the cargo/luggage hold at ALL cost!
- Identify the precise dimensions under the airline seat at this will dictate the size of your transport carrier.
- Determine what paperwork you must have in preparation for travel including vaccination records and a health certificate for travel.
2. Acquire your cat’s travel carrier well in advance of your trip.
- Consider a soft-sided travel carrier as it is more “forgiving” for fitting under the airline seat space.
- Have the carrier open & available at all times in order to make it as unintimidating as possible.
- Introduce FELIWAY to your cat prior to going into the carrier (you can also spray the carrier with the Feliway spray as well!). This is a natural, odor free calming pheromone for cats.
- Teach your cat that the carrier is a great everyday place to hang out; feeding your cat in the carrier can create a positive association.
- Practice entry & exit from the carrier to make it as routine a process as possible — this will be extremely important during security screening!
3. One your cat’s flight reservation is made, schedule a visit with your veterinarian close to the date of travel.
Most airlines require a valid health certificate for travel completed by your veterinarian in order for your cat to fly with you. Be sure all relevant vaccinations are up to date, and plan to have your cat’s rabies vaccination certificate handy when traveling.
This is an ideal time to discuss your concerns over your pet flying! Some pets need a little extra assistance (i.e., medication therapy) where they can get a mild sedative that can help keep them calm during the flight! This can help ease the anxieties for both you and your pet!
- A thundershirt which swaddles the cats much like swaddling an infant and can reduce anxiety.
- Feliway pheromone wipes/spray to prepare the carrier and contribute to lowering anxiety
- Medications prescribed by your veterinarian, some examples are (but not limited to) buprenorphine, gabapentin, alprazolam etc., that are sometimes used to reduce the anxiety that
Are there details I should attend to when booking my flight?
Some airlines restrict how many pets may travel in the cabin or on a particular flight, and they may have certain flights on which no pets can fly in the cabin. Book your travel early to ensure a spot for your cat. When choosing your seat, be aware that you will not be able to sit in an exit row nor against a bulkhead (there must be a seat in front of you for the carrier). Try to travel non-stop if possible as layovers/transfers only add to what will be a long day for both you and your cat.
What else will help my cat be comfortable for this trip?
Traveling on an empty stomach minimizes the risk of nausea & vomiting, so withhold breakfast on the day of travel. Line the carrier with an absorbent puppy pad in case your cat needs to (or accidentally) urinates/defecates during travel. Carry extra puppy pee pads as well as a couple of zip lock food storage bags, some paper towels, baby wipes, a few latex examination gloves for any necessary cleanup & containment of the mess. Carry some of your cat’s food with you and do not forget any medication(s) they may need/take.
When in doubt about traveling with your beloved special baby ALWAYS contact your airline company and your veterinarian! It is better to be “overly” prepared than to arrive at the gate and not be prepared (thus putting a snag in your trip!)