How to Take Your Cat on a Plane: The Complete Guide
You can't bear the thought of leaving your pet at home when you go on a long trip, whether it's across the country or across the world to see relatives. Our pets are like members of the family, so we would take them with us almost everywhere. Preparation is key if you want to bring your cat on a flight with you.
In most cases, you can bring your cat on a plane with you, but you still need to comply with the airline's rules and make sure your cat is as comfortable as possible. In addition, if you're going to be bringing a live animal onto foreign soil, you should research the regulations in advance of your trip. We sought the advice of veterinarians. Here is some advice on how to take your cat on a plane without worrying about its safety.
The answer is yes. However, before you rush to the airport to pack them up and take off, you should check your facts. Veterinarian Stephanie Sheen, DVM, of the Fuzzy app for pet health care, says that first and foremost, a health certificate is typically required for domestic travel, and that it must be obtained no more than 10 days prior to departure. With this certificate, you can prove that your cat is at least eight weeks old, fully vaccinated, and disease-free.
Haylee Bergeland, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA, cautions that while air travel is an option for feline companions, it isn't necessarily the best choice for all cats. When asked if cats could travel, she replied, "Yes, if they were comfortable in a crate or bag and adjusted well to new environments." However, a pet sitter is recommended if your cat does not enjoy these activities. This is likely to be the case for the vast majority of cats. "
Excessive vocalization, grooming, or drooling are all signs of stress or anxiety in cats; if your cat is displaying these behaviors, it may be best to leave him or her at home with a trusted family member, friend, or pet sitter.
FURTHER READING: 6 Causes of Cat Drooling, from Illness to Stress
There are more hoops to jump through if you are traveling internationally. Although most of the regulations are standard, Sheen explains that there are some exceptions, such as the need for specific vaccines against malaria and other parasites. She continues, "These documents can be several pages long and typically require completion by a veterinarian who is certified through the USDA." The rabies titer process can take several months, and it may be necessary to complete it before traveling to certain destinations. "
Note that these regulations are subject to change, and always double-check the USDA's Pet Travel website for up-to-date information before setting out on your journey. It is important to give yourself plenty of time to negotiate this procedure. She also says, "There may be businesses in your area that offer a fee-based service to help you navigate this system.
Find Out More About Pet Passports in Our Related Article
Is there not a concern for the airlines as a whole? Almost every airline welcomes feline passengers. But many airlines have limits on how many pets can fly with each passenger, so planning ahead is essential to avoid any complications at check-in. Because not all flights can be booked online, this usually necessitates a phone call to the airline.
The weight and size restrictions for pet carriers vary by airline, so double check those details before booking your flight. Your cat will need to be able to spend the entire flight in its carrier in front of your seat.
To lessen the strain of the trip on your cat, Sheen suggests booking nonstop flights. Keep in mind that you can't bring any additional bags on the plane with you because your pet is considered a carry-on item. Bear in mind, too, that you can't take your cat with you to the aisle seats near the emergency exits.
Some well-known airlines' specific pet carrier requirements are as follows:
- For Alaska Airlines, the hard case dimensions are as follows: 17"L x 11"W x 7"H. 17"L x 11"W x 9"H (for a soft case), 5 5"H
- If you're flying with American Airlines, your carrier must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. A maximum of 20 pounds, including your pet and carrier, is allowed.
- For travel with Delta, your carrier must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you.
- For JetBlue, the dimensions of the carrier are 17 inches in length and 12 inches in width. 5"W x 8 5"H Your pet and its carrier cannot weigh more than 20 pounds.
- Hard-sided carrier dimensions in the United States are 17 5"L x 12"W x 7 5"T; 18"L x 11"W x 11"H (approximate) for the soft-sided carrier
It's a 15–20 year commitment to care for a cat. This commitment requires not only your time and affection, but also a financial commitment. There is a per-flight fee for bringing a cat on an airplane. Because your cat is considered a carry-on item, you will likely also be required to pay the airline's standard checked bag fee, which can range from $20 to $40.
The following is a summary of the fees charged by five major airlines when you bring your cat along for the ride (please note that these fees are subject to change, so be sure to verify them before making a reservation):
The journey from A to B with your cat should be as stress-free and relaxing as possible. You can do some things to get ready for the adventure, despite the fact that you will have to deal with many meows and some anxiety. Expert advice from veterans can make the process easier.
If things were perfect, you'd never have to release your cat from its carrier before you got there. To put it simply, no, you cannot bring your pet through security without first removing it from its carrier and putting it through an X-ray machine. Since cats are not exempt from metal detectors, you'll need to bring them with you. Sheen suggests securing your cat in a comfortable harness and leash to prevent it from running away.
CONNECTED: Putting a Cat in a Harness (Without Getting Mauled)
Many air carriers will accept either a soft- or hard-sided cabin bag. Sheen, however, says that a soft-sided carrier can be more accommodating and give your cat a little more room to turn around and get cozy. If you're having trouble deciding, think about what would be best for your pet's comfort.
A senior veterinarian at Chewy, Katy Nelson, DVM, advises that since your feline friend will spend most of the trip in the carrier, you should make it as comfortable as possible. She recommends bringing along familiar items like their favorite stuffed animal, an outgrown tee, or a cozy blanket. To help your cat relax in their carrier, try spraying them with a feline pheromone product, such as Feliway.
In addition, get your cat used to the carrier well in advance of your trip by buying it a few weeks beforehand. This will help them become accustomed to it, and eventually overcome any initial apprehension. Nelson suggests leaving it out so your pet can "sniff around, explore, and possibly nap inside it." "As they become more comfortable with the carrier, take them on short walks and then drives. When it's time to board the plane, remember to stow your usual belongings in the overhead bin. "
Nelson advises that, when traveling with cats, one should err on the side of caution in case of an emergency. Leash, harness, collapsible bowl, wipes, treats, and kibble should all be brought along. She goes on to say, "Most carriers will include a spot to store these items but keep food and water separate to avoid any spills." Marking your carrier with your name, number, and final address is also crucial. "
Even though it's not nice, you might want to skip feeding your cat the morning of takeoff. How come Some cats, according to Sheen, will feel queasy and throw up, so feeding them less is preferable. Even so, it is still important to make sure they drink enough water. An absorbent pad, like a puppy potty pad, should be placed inside the carrier in case an accident occurs.
Read on for some related advice on how to encourage your feline friend to drink more water.
Although most cats don't require medication, you may want to consider it if your cat exhibits extreme anxiety. Sheen recommends consulting with your veterinarian, who can let you know if any pre-trip sedatives are necessary. You need to make sure your cat is going to be safe while using them because of the potential health risks they pose.
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