Flying with Cats on an Airplane Cabin - Useful Tips for Safe & Relaxing Air Travel Experience with your Pets

Traveling with cats may seem like a daunting task but to travel to beautiful destinations with your fur-babies is a dream for any cat-parents like my husband and I. Aside from preparing the documents you need to be able to travel with them, such as pet passport, veterinary health certificate, and the like, you also have to find the best airline that would cater to you and your cats.

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Needless to say, one must never forget that flying is not only stressful for humans but also for our cats, which is why I prepared some useful tips for safe air travel with your cats.

1. Book your flight with a pet-friendly airline.

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This is probably the most important aspect that you should consider when you start planning your trip. Yes, maybe even more important than having your cats implanted with microchip, have their vaccines updated and what have you. Why? Because all that may be gone to waste if the airline you booked your flight with won’t even allow you and your cat to fly. Lufthansa, JetBlue, Air France, and United Airlines are some of the airlines that have pet-friendly policy.

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Lastly, it is best to book your flight waaaay (maybe at least 2-3 months) in advance so you’ll have plenty of time for other important things such as pet-passport application, pet kit shopping, vet visits, and the likes.

2. Familiarize yourself with the pet-policy of your airline and travel destination.

Once you’ve booked a flight for you and your cats, you must read and familiarize yourself with their pet-policy as well as the pet-policy of your place of destination (i.e. The Bahamas, any member-state of the European Union, etc.), then read them side-by-side so you can come up with a logistical flow in terms of complying with all of them. These pet-policies usually require pet microchipping, health certifications, crate shopping, and etc. Make sure you got everything covered so you’ll come prepared at the airport. All these preparations would greatly affect and lessen the stress of traveling.

3. Purchase your cat carrier in advance.

After knowing the ins and outs of your airline’s pet-policy, it is best to purchase your cat’s carrier in advance. This is crucial since cats would usually take time before they get comfortable inside crates or carriers. Purchasing an airline approved carrier in advance would allow your cats to have a feel and get familiarized with its smell.

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A technique that I use is I put some of their favorite toys inside their new carrier, some treats, or mine or my husband’s shirt with our scent on it, whilst leaving the carrier open on the floor so that they can ease into it leisurely in their own terms and liking.

Some of the cat carriers that I really like are the ones from Sherpa, EliteField, and PetPeppy.com (which can be expanded so your cats have more “legroom”). They sell pet carriers that are easy to carry around and have mesh/see-through sides so your cats won’t feel too contained.

4. Don’t forget the dry pads!

With the perfect carrier on hand, you must now have to get dry pads that could fit inside the said carrier. This allows your cat to pee and poop inside the carrier. Just replace them every once in a while during the flight. DryFur sells them in different sizes to fit your carrier.

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It must be noted, however, that cats’ use of dry pads are not natural for them. So if your cats aren’t used to doing their business on a pad, then you must allow them to get familiarized with it prior to your flight.

5. Labels, labels, labels.

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Once you’re cats fall in love with their new carrier -- which will technically be their home during the entire flight since airlines require pets to stay inside their carrier at all times -- placing appropriate labels on it is highly suggested. A full set of labels and tags are available on Amazon, which comes with stickers which says “Live Animals”, Carrier/kennel tags that you can attach to your cat’s collar and/or carrier. This will come very much handy just in case your cat’s carrier gets lost (God forbid that happens).

6. Cat food and beverage.

Another important thing to pack are cat food and treats. I use collapsible cat bowls for their food and water which I bought from Amazon as well. These collapsible bowls can fit in the pockets of your hand-carry bag or even your cat carrier. Just bring your cat’s favorite food and treats (of course!) and you’re all set!

7. Calming spray, just in case.

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A calming spray (like the ones from Relaxivet) might come in handy when it comes to air travel with cats as it could help them be less anxious and panicky during your flight. This is an alternative in case your vet do not recommend medicating your cats for flying. Nonetheless, it is best to consult your vet before using any relaxing products for your cats.

8. Pet Passport Pouch

Lastly, a pet passport pouch is necessary to keep your cat’s documents organized and in one place. This way, you won’t have to worry about going through all your stuff just to look for your cat’s documents. Just make sure to get one in striking color so it’s easy to spot.

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There you go! I have to say though that these tips are just some of the things that you have to consider when flying with your cats. Although helpful, there are still some things that you need to attend to especially that cats are different from one another. The last piece of tip that I could give is to listen and observe your cats. Your strong connection with them will tell you whether they are doing great or (hopefully not) having anxiety attacks during your flight. Because like what I said, traveling is not only stressful for us human, it is also stressful for our pets.

Have a safe and fun trip!