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How to Fly with Your Cat — The Ultimate Guide

Does being a cat parent is stopping you from having all the fun? Do you miss all the fun of going out, on parties, and long weekend trips to your dream spots? Well for people the answer would be yes, it’s sad, right. But what if we told you that you don’t need to do that anymore?

But wait, “how to fly with your cat” is not that tough to answer now. You can fly with your cat safely and comfortably if you will follow our steps.

how to fly with your cat

Can Your Cats Fly with You on a Plane?

Yes, of course, you can fly with your cat on a plane. But it won’t be wrong to say, that you need to gather a lot of information before you go on board with your cat. Within 10 days of travel, the first and foremost thing you require in domestic travel for your cat is a valid health certificate.

This certificate contains information like, your cat is 8 weeks older, has no infections or disease, and is up-to-date with all the vacations.

can your cats fly with you on a plane

Note: Determine first in case your cat can be a part of you inside the airplane’s cabin in a cat carrier, or in the event that they could want to fly under the cargo hold.

While animals fly in the cargo hold on a daily basis and are commonly fine, we strongly advise against putting your cat in cargo unless it is absolutely necessary.

Now, once you are ready with all the details and documents, it’s time to make sure that the day you are going to travel must have flights that would allow your cat to travel.

Some airplanes restrict how many pets can travel, fly in the cabin on a particular day, or maybe there could be no flight to carry your pet at all! So you got to make sure about all such things.

Be advised that you will not be able to sit in an exit row or against a bulkhead while selecting your seat space (there must be a seat in front of you for the carrier).

If at all feasible, travel nonstop, as layovers and transfers will just add to what will already be a difficult day for both you and your cat.

Is Flying Internationally More Tough?

Yes, if you will compare international with domestic flying, internationally flying will have more hurdles to pass. While most of the rules are similar, some locations will ask for more documents and health certificates.

is flying international difficult with your cat

For example,  rabies tiers, vaccines for parasite prevention, these documents can be very lengthy and would require a vet who is certified through the USDA, to approve.

Also, these guidelines are subject to change with the destination so what you can do is keep a track of it, on the following website.

Note: check the USDA website for Pet Travel for the latest information regarding your destination.

Carry-on Pets and Emotional Support Animals: Difference

Service animals, emotional support animals, and carry-on pets are the most common types of pets. One of the latter two categories will apply to your pet.

What are carry-on pets?

Most airlines will allow your cat to board as a carry-on pet, but they do charge an extra fee. You will be excepted to spend approximately $100-200 USD per flight. Most US airlines will allow you to bring a pet carrier with you.

what are carry on pets

The sole purpose behind this is that your cat will be more comfortable in her own crate rather than adjusting to a completely new one. It might develop more anxiety issues in her, and the traveling could be a very bad experience.

For the duration of the trip, carry-on cats must remain in their pet container on the floor at the foot of your seat. Under no circumstances should a living creature be placed in the overhead compartment.

What are emotional support animals?

Over past years, the emotional support animal had gained really a very bad reputation. Emotional support animals are a very valuable and real resource for people with mental or emotional disabilities.

what are emotional support animals

They are very different from service animals because they assist such people who have difficulties in coping up with different situations.

What you need to do if you have an emotional support cat: all you need to do is submit paperwork, which your airlines would ask you to. This paperwork would require the signature of a licensed mental health professional and licensed veterinarian.

However, all these forms need to be submitted before 48 hours of your flight, as they need to get approval, you should make copies of them and carry them with you even to the airport just in case of any inconvenience.

The best part of emotional support animals is that you don’t have to pay any fee for them, and you can also carry them with you.

They can sit in your lap, this is also one of the reasons why people tend to take the wrong advantage of it. Which is an unethical practice.

Note 1: it’s a wrong thing to take advantage of such privileges, so if you are someone who does not have any mental or emotional disability, then pretending to have one is the worst thing to do.

Note 2: The emotional support animals do not require any certificate, so if you see anything like this on the internet, it’s a pure scam.

Make sure that you don’t fall for such scams. You can go to the website, scam. 

You can read the U.S. Department of Justice’s statements on service animals and the Americans with Disabilities Act here, which confirms this.

6 Tips to Fly with Your Cat Safely

Let’s see, how to fly with your cat now as you are done reading all the basic legal formalities. As we know how much you care about your baby, a cat. We want you and your cat to have a comfortable and stress-free journey.

Though you might have to deal with many meows and anxiety, we are here to help you with the best tricks and tips that are recommended by the vet. So let us begin!

1. Soft-Sided Cat Carrier: First Priority

The first thing you need to go buy for your cat before you go and get anything else is a carrier. It can be also used on regular basis, you don’t have to only buy it for traveling.

always use soft sided carrier when flying with your cat
  • For cats to be in cargo: hard shell travel carrier
  • For cats to be in a cabin with you: soft-sided travel carrier
  • what you need to check : the size of the seats

Cats are very skeptical when it comes to such things, if you are about to travel, start preparing your cat to be inside a cat carrier for a few hours of the day.

This will make the concept of being in a close space familiar for your cats. This means less anxiety or stress, the experience of being in one will help them to adjust well, more comfort, and a happy journey for both of you.

2. Make Your Cat’s Flight Reservation

Though you know most of the things now by reading our article, we would suggest you check in the basic guidelines for booking your cat’s flight a few days or weeks before, due to the changing of DOT restrictions.

make your cat's flight reservation

They will let you know everything in detail about:

  1. What documents you need to carry
  2. If your cat will be able to fly with you or not
  3. Cost
  4. Your cat need to see a vet or not!

With changing location, the rules and regulations can also differ, being double sure by checking all these things is the most appropriate decision to make.

3. Take Your Cat to the Vet

Almost all the airlines would ask you to provide a health certificate for your cat. If your cat is going on cargo travel, some airlines would definitely ask for the paperwork, on the other hand, few airlines might ask the same for travel in the cabin!

take your cat to the vet

Only to make sure that your cat has been vaccinated with all the necessary vaccines to ensure that she’s healthy. You need to issue them within 10 days of your travel, the time duration might depend on the place you are about to travel.

4. Check In

Most of the airlines require a check-in process, as sometimes they might restrict the number of pets on the other hand some airlines base on the practice, “first come, first served” basis.

check in at the airport

It’s also best for you and your cat, to book a non-stop flight, this will be a comfortable journey.

The airport security check-in will require your cat’s carrier to go through an X-ray machine security screening, till that time you will have to hold your cat.

At this moment, your cat can be anxious due to the crowd around, a sturdy harness is what you need to keep a grip on her.

5. Pack Necessities

You can pack a leash attached, harness, collapsible bowl, wipes, and treats. Most of the carriers come with a spot to store these items.

pack necessities when flying with your cat

Keep food and water bowl separate so that the fear of spilling is minimized. It is also very important to put a tag on the carrier of your cat, with name, phone number, and address on it.

Likewise, take extra pads as well as a few zip-lock bags, paper towels, and a pair of latex gloves for any necessary cleanup and containment of a mess when your cat needs to urinate.

6. Avoid Feeding the Morning of Travel

It would be best for your cat if she travels on an empty stomach, as it reduces the chances of feeling nausea and vomiting. Stop giving any food to your cat before two hours of traveling. However, make the water available for her in the carriage.

avoid feeding your cat in the morning

Because keeping your cat dehydrated for a longer period of time can be harmful to her. Cat’s carrier should have absorbent pads, though, just in case of any accidents.

Conclusion

How to fly with your cat is now not that tough, just like you, your cat also requires a small amount of preparation before going on a trip with its human.

Just make sure you have all the paperwork, documents ready with you, and a good cat carrier.

References

  1. Traveling with pets in airplane — Americal Airlines
  2. Flying with your cat — VCA Hospitals
  3. Travel safely with your pet by car, airplane, ship or train — Humane Society

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