Preparing Your Cat for Air Travel

Cat getting out of a crate for travel

Traveling by air with a cat is challenging, and stowing poses another challenge to your plans. Preparing your cat for air travel will be the most important step before your flight.

Preparing Your Cat for Air Travel Before Leaving

When you have to travel in a plane, at least you know what you’re doing. You are aware of what’s going on. However, cats don’t know what’s happening to them when they travel. Even if they’ve traveled on a plane before, they’ll likely be nervous.

To help cut down on the anxiety you and your cat might feel on the day of your flight, be sure to prepare as much as you can ahead of time.

You should start by getting a carrier for your cat and taking the time to get them used to it. If your cat’s first time in the carrier is at the airport, they are understandably going to be stressed out. The more you can get your cat used to being comfortable in their carrier, the calmer they should be while you’re traveling.

Try to make them as comfortable as possible. Make the inside of their carrier soft by placing a towel or blanket in there. Put their favorite toys in the open carrier. You can even feed them inside the carrier to get them used to it.

Once your cat is comfortable in the carrier, try taking them on a ride in the car. Start by taking them around the block and back. Then you can go for a little bit of a longer car ride. Just be sure you don’t take your cat anywhere they don’t want to be. A trip to the vet or groomer in the carrier might be off the table if you’re trying to prepare them for a flight. You don’t want to have your cat associate the carrier with anything they don’t like, otherwise, they can become stressed out.

Day of Your Flight Preparations

On the day of your flight, you should try to keep your cat’s routine as normal as you can. Feed them at a normal time and make sure they get their normal exercise. Try to keep everything as normal as you can, but also try to have them use their litter box before you leave. Your cat isn’t going to have a chance to go potty on the flight.

Once you get your cat into their carrier, be sure they have everything they need to be comfortable. Pack a blanket and a toy into the carrier with them. You won’t want much else in the carrier however so you don’t crowd them.

Unless your vet has told you to do so, do not give your cat any kind of tranquilizers to calm them down. These can have adverse effects when cats are exposed to high altitudes.

What to Do During Your Flight

When booking your ticket, you should talk to a travel agent about where your cat will be during the flight. Many airlines allow you to stow your cat under your seat as long as your carrier meets the required dimensions. Under your seat is going to be the most comfortable place for your cat. You’ll be able to calm them through the carrier, but you should not take your cat out. Once you know the flight is coming to an end, ask the flight attendant for a cup of ice and give your cat a few cubes. This will help them slowly refresh themselves.

Tips for Flying With Your Cat

If you are about to fly with your cat, you might find these tips useful.

  • Make sure your carrier and your cat are tagged. Your cat’s tag should have vaccination information as well as your name and your phone number. This will make it easier for airline employees to find you if you are separated from your cat.
  • Do not feed your cat within 5 hours of takeoff. Also, you should restrict their access to water directly before the flight. If your cat seems parched, give them ice cubes one at a time.
  • Discuss your travel plans with your vet. They may recommend giving your cat a medication to help them relax.

Preparing your cat for air travel beforehand will be the key to ensure a smooth experience.