How to Bring Your Cat on a Plane

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

So, you’ve decided to bring your cat on a plane. Here are a few tips to make the process as smooth as possible for both you and your feline friend.

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Before You Leave

Flying with a cat can be a challenging but ultimately rewarding experience for both you and your feline friend. There are a few things you should do before you leave to make the trip go as smoothly as possible. First, make sure your cat is healthy and up to date on all their vaccinations. You’ll also need to get a health certificate from your veterinarian. Next, you’ll need to decide whether to bring your cat in the cabin with you or have them fly as cargo.

Get a carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you

One of the biggest concerns for flying with your cat is finding a carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has regulations on pet carriers, and one of the requirements is that the carrier fits completely under the seat in front of you. This means that carriers that are designed to be stored in the overhead compartment are not allowed.

The IATA also has regulations on the size of the carrier, and it must be small enough to fit under the seat but large enough for your cat to stand up, turn around, and lie down in. This usually means that carriers for cats must be between 17 inches long and 12 inches high.

If you’re flying with a cat in a carrier, you’ll need to make sure that the carrier has some form of identification, such as your name, address, and phone number. You’ll also need to have a photo of your cat inside the carrier so that you can prove that it’s your cat if it becomes lost.

Make sure the carrier is comfortable and familiar to your cat

Your cat will be spending a lot of time in her carrier during travel, so it’s important that she is comfortable and familiar with it. When choosing a carrier, make sure it is large enough for your cat to stand up and turn around in, and that it has plenty of ventilation. Line the bottom of the carrier with a soft towel or blanket, and place it in a spot where your cat usually hangs out.

A few weeks before travel, start feeding your cat meals in her carrier so she associates it with positive experiences. You may also want to place a favorite toy or treat inside to make it even more inviting.

Get your cat used to the carrier well in advance of the flight

If your cat isn’t used to being in a carrier, start introducing the carrier well before your flight. Leave it out in a room where your cat spends time, and put toys, treats or a piece of clothing with your scent inside to make it more inviting. You may need to do this for several days or even weeks before your cat is comfortable going inside. If possible, take your cat on short car rides in the carrier before the trip so she can get used to the movement and being confined.

At the Airport

If your cat is accompanying you on your flight, you’ll need to take a few extra steps at the airport. First, you’ll need to check with the airline to see if they allow cats on the plane. Some airlines have a limit on the number of pets that can be on the plane, so you’ll need to make sure you have a reservation for your cat. You’ll also need to make sure your cat is up-to-date on all of their vaccinations.

Check in early

Make sure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time to check in. The process of checking in your cat can take a little longer than usual, so it’s best to be safe than sorry.

When you get to the check-in counter, let the airline representative know that you’re traveling with your cat. They will then need to see your pet’s health certificate, which you should have handy in your carry-on bag.

The representative will also need to see your cat’s rabies vaccination certificate. If your cat is not vaccinated, they will likely not be able to fly.

Once everything is in order, they will give you a pet carrier tag to attach to your cat’s carrier. This tag will have your flight information and other important details on it.

Keep your cat in the carrier until you’re ready to board

At the airport, keep your cat in the carrier until you’re ready to board. The carrier will need to stay under your seat during the flight, so choose one that will fit comfortably. If your cat is prone to meowing or scratching, consider getting a carrier with a cover.

Board the plane last

One of the best ways to reduce stress for both you and your cat during air travel is to board the plane last. That way, you can avoid the hustle and bustle of the boarding process and give your cat some time to adjust to the new surroundings. Cats are naturally curious creatures, so they may be intrigued by all the new sights and smells at the airport. Once you’re settled in your seat, pull out your cat’s carrier so she can explore her new surroundings from the safety of her carrier.


Most airlines will allow you to bring your cat in the cabin with you as long as the cat is in a carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. You will need to purchase a ticket for your cat, which can be done when you book your own ticket or at the airport.

Keep your cat in the carrier during takeoff and landing

You’ll need to keep your cat in the carrier during takeoff and landing. The pressurized cabin can cause their ears to hurt, so it’s best to keep them in the carrier where they feel safe and secure. You can put a blanket over the carrier to help muffle any noise and make them feel more comfortable.

Let your cat out to stretch and use the litter box during the flight

If possible, let your cat out of the carrier to stretch and use the litter box during the flight. Keep a lead on your cat at all times, even if he or she is microchipped and registered, as some airlines require all pets to be leashed during layovers.

Keep an eye on your cat during the flight

While it’s important to keep an eye on your cat during the flight, it’s also important to let him or her have some time to rest. If you’re flying with a carrier that has a top opening, make sure to open it partway so your cat can peek out and see what’s going on around him or her. You may want to offer your cat a treat or toy during the flight as well.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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