how to travel with a cat on a plane

How to Travel With A Cat On A Plane What You Need to Know

Have you ever wondered “how to travel with a cat on a plane?” If so, then I’ve done tons of due diligence to help you make the most of your experience.

Taking a cat or kitten on a commercial flight may seem extremely easy. But every airline is different and you’ll need to be aware of the additional fees, required documentation and other rules, and what size of carrier and litter you can bring on board.

Don’t worry, I’ve done the research for you so you can worry about other things like what fun things you want to do while traveling with your cat.

*This page contains affiliate links to products I recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.

Can You Fly With A Cat?

Most reputable airlines will allow you to fly with cats, dogs, and small household pets. You’ll need to check with the airline’s pet policies to find out what their rules and regulations are.

Domestic flights in North America are easy to find, all you have to do is visit their website or call the airlines. If you’re planning on flying internationally, there are strict laws that you’ll have to take into consideration.

The short answer is yes, you can fly with cats. However, there’s a lot you’ll need to do to prepare your feline friend for their flight.

How to Travel With A Cat On A Plane?

Before you go book your flight, there are some things you need to consider before going on a flight with your cat.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Do you want your cat to fly in the cabin with you?

How much will it cost to fly your cat?

Does your cat require any special health checkups before flying?

What items do you need for your pet?

Well, don’t worry, I’m going to answer all these questions for you, so keep reading.

How Much Does It Cost to Travel With A Cat On A Plane?

Every airline is different and will have its own set rules and fees for traveling with pets. I’ve put together some of the prices of the most popular reputable airline pet fees to help you see how much you can expect to pay.

You’ll want to make sure to check the prices before booking your flight as the prices may have changed. Make sure you scroll down as I’ve put together a list of the airlines that accept pets in the cabin.

Alaska Airlines: They have the “Fur-st Class Care Program” where they accommodate small pets in cabins and larger cats in the baggage hold. They charge $100.00 USD for a pet each way. If you’re flying round trip, it’ll cost you around $200.00 for your feline friend.

American Airlines: They do have cat restrictions and don’t allow brachycephalic cats of any “mix.” Fees will vary from $125 per kennel to have your pet in the cabin. Expect to pay around $200 per kennel in the cargo.

Delta Airlines: Small dogs, cats, and household birds can travel in the cabin for a one-way fee of $125.00. They must be in a well-ventilated airline approved carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you.

Southwest Airlines: Only allows small domesticated dogs and cats. Emotional Support animals must be smaller than a two-year-old child. Expect to pay a $95 one way non-refundable pet fare.

Flying With Cats In Cabin And Prices for Airlines

I’ve put together a list of some of the most popular airlines that accept pets. Most of the prices will include a one-way ticket for your furry companion.

AirlinePet In CabinPet In Baggage
Air Canada$50 - $100 CAD/USD$105 - $318 CAD/USD
Alaska$100$100
American Airlines$125$200
Delta Airlines$125$125
Frontier Airlines$125 - $200
Delta Airlines$125 - $200
JetBlue Airlines$100$100
Southwest$95$95
United Airlines$125$125

*If there’s no price, then I couldn’t find the price on the site. Make sure you double check all the prices before booking your flight.

You’ll also want to check each airlines policies individually to ensure that you meet their weight restrictions and find out the prices for international travel.

The prices may have also changed from the time of this writing.

What Airline Has The Cheapest Pet Fee?

Instead of asking yourself which airlines has the cheapest pet fee, you need to consider whether or not the airline treats your furbaby like family.

All the airlines that I’ve shared have will provide peace-of-mind knowing that your cat’s experience will be as smooth as possible.

Perks for Pet Owners

Some airlines like JetBlue has a special program for traveling with pets, it’s called JetPaws. They provide pet owners:

Carrier Bag Tag: A special tag for your pet carrier at check-in so your furbaby is ready to fly.

Petiquette™ – A handy guide to traveling with your pet

TrueBlue Points: 300 TrueBlue points for traveling with your pet that can be used towards your next flight.

Don’t be ashamed to ask each airline what they offer for taking a pet on their flight. The ones that do offer some type of reward are usually the ones that really care about your pet’s experience.

Research Health Requirements, and Other Rules

Once you’ve decided which airlines you want to fly with, you’ll want to visit their main website and read all their policies. Every airline has specific requirements and you want to make sure that you’re well prepared for the trip.

Here are some of the things you’ll want to prepare before you book your flight.

Identification

Current photo and an ID tag that has your name, your home address, and phone number in case your furbaby gets lost. You may also want to put the contact information for your accommodations where you’ll be staying at.

Health Certificates

Most airlines will require proof of vaccinations (proof of rabies vaccination) before they can board the plane. You’ll need to inform your veterinarian at least 10 days before you fly out.

Medical Records

Copies of your feline’s medical records both existing and pre-existing conditions and medications they are using. This is especially important when traveling out of the country.

Important Items for Your Cat While Traveling

There are some items that you’re going to need for your cat while on flight and items you’ll need once you reach your destination and they are:

If your cat has never traveled before, you will want to take some toys or blankets that will help keep them calm while flying.

Cabin vs Cargo

Cabin

If you want your cat to have a pleasant experience, this is the way to fly. You’ll be able to take your cat into the main cargo and have them close to you the entire flight, the best part is that most airlines charge the same rate for both cabin or cargo flights for pets.

You will need to have a carrier that is small enough to fit under the seat and your cat doesn’t weigh more than 20 pounds.

The only caveat is if you’re flying with multiple pets, you won’t be able to have them in the cabin with you. Make sure you check with the airlines to see how many pets you can bring up front in the cabin with you.

Cargo

Your cat will fly in the back where your luggage flies. They’ll have a place inside the cargo area that is pressurized and temperature-controlled.

You won’t have access to them during the flight, which will be hard. Personally, I’d rather have my cat upfront with me, because it’s safer and you can tend to their needs if they need you.

The humane society discourages booking your pet on a cargo flight. They claim that it can be stressful and dangerous for your pet.

What Pet Carriers Are Airline Approved?

Unlike your cat carrier for a car, you’ll need to make sure that your pet carrier fits under an airline seat. Every airline will have specific dimensions for the kennels they allow.

The most important thing you need to keep in mind is if you’re flying your cat in the cabin, your hard-sided or soft-sided kennel must fit completely under the seat.

  • Hard-sided kennel sizes: 17.5 inches long x 12 inches wide x 7.5 inches high (44 cm x 30 cm x 19 cm)
  • Soft-sided kennel sizes: 18 inches long x 11 inches wide x 11 inches high (46 cm x 28 cm x 28 cm)

I’ve found some of the best cat airlines approved carriers below. Any of these should be able to fly on any airlines and the best part is that your pet will be comfortable.

What to Look for In A Cat Airline Approved Carrier?

We like the soft-sided carrier because they seem to be more comfortable for our cat. Plus, they can be a little bit bigger than the hard-sided carries because they are collapsible.

The Premium Luxury Tote by PetPeppy is airline approved. Plus it’s well-ventilated which will help keep your cat from overheating while in flight. It easily stows away under the cabin seat so you can keep an eye on your best friend while traveling.

This Sherpa Travel Original Deluxe Airline Approved Pet Carrier can be used for more than traveling by planes.

You can use these carries when traveling by car or taking a trip to your vet. It’s easy to carry and the best part is that it’s machine washable in case any accidents happen.

Can I Buy A Seat for My Cat On A Plane?

Most airlines will not allow you to purchase a seat for your pet. A carrier must go under the seat in front of you and your pet must weigh less than 18 pounds to fly in the cabin.

Don’t be afraid to contact the airlines by phone and ask them if it’s possible to buy a seat for your cat. If they tell you can, make sure that you get their name, direct number or extension in case you have problems on the day of check-in.

When To Stop Feeding Cat Before Flight?

You don’t want your cat to have an accident in their carrier, so make sure you feed your cat 4-6 hours before your flight.

Cats will feel stress and anxiety when traveling, so you’ll want to make sure that you help make the travel experience less stressful for both of you.

If your cat travels on a full belly, it could lead to them vomiting in their carrier, having accidents, or just getting nauseous.

You can offer her a small amount of water before leaving for the airport. However, try not to give her any water during the flight. (if it’s a short flight)

How to Keep Cat From Meowing On Plane

Nothing is more annoying than sitting in tight cramped places on a plane only to have your cat crying the entire way. No one wants to sit by a loud cat during the entire flight.

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can to keep your cat from meowing.

However, if your feline friend starts crying, here are some things you can do to try to calm her down.

Cover the carrier: Cover the carrier with a small light blanket so your cat doesn’t panic with everything that is happening around her. Make sure you don’t cover all the ventilation holes to allow her to breathe easily.

Bring her favorite toy: Place one of her favorite toys or blanket in the carrier with her. If she flies with something she’s familiar with, it can make her more comfortable.

Get a big enough carrier: Your kitty will be more comfortable in flight if she can move around in her carrier. The carrier should have enough space for her to stand up and turn around easily in.

Pet her: Maybe she just needs your touch, to put her at ease. Try soothing her with a soft voice and light petting.

Sedatives For Cats Traveling By Plane

Make sure that you check with the airlines if they allow sedation, as they all have different rules and regulations. For instance, Alaska Airlines advises against using any tranquilizers or sedation for animals at high altitudes.

The best thing you can do is check with your veterinarian and ask them what they suggest about sedating your cat before traveling. They will be able to prescribe the right thing for your cat to fly comfortably.

What to Expect When Flying With A Cat In The Cabin

If you’ve never flown with a cat before, it’s not as easy as you might think. There are certain things you need to do to ensure that you both have a great travel experience.

This video will help you get your pet travel routine down so your kitty is comfortable and you both get to your destination safe and sane.

Related Articles On Flying With Cats

How to Prepare Your Cat for Air Travel

Can I Bring Cat Food On A Plane

Flying With A Cat On Southwest

What Vaccinations Do Cats Need to Fly?

References and Further Reading

Brooke Niemeyer – An Airline-by-Airline Guide to Fees, Pets, Bumping & More

Amy Sinatra Ayres – What To Know Before Flying With Your Pet