Cats on a Plane: 8 Tips for Flying with Felines

by Chris on November 8, 2010

Tips on flying with cats, in case you find yourself traveling with cats on a plane

Flying with cats, pets on a plane

Cats may think that they want to hit the road with you, particularly when you’re packing.

But unlike, say, dogs, cats are not happy travelers. Felines like soft surfaces, warm laps, routine feeding times. They don’t like inconsistency, loud noises or (most) other people.Which is why you don’t see cat owners toting their pets to the beach, or the mall, or out to dinner. They won’t like it. And we’re a little afraid that they’ll take revenge by killing us in our sleep (kidding….I think).

Cats pre-flight, pets on a plane

Calm before the storm..

In our recent move cross-country, my husband and I knew that we’d somehow have to get the cats from Philly to Seattle. Neither of us could take the time to drive, though, so we had to figure out a flight plan. Here’s a few of the steps we took to keep our tabbies Jigs and Zane – and ourselves – sane.

1. Decide on cabin vs. cargo. Most people ship their animals in the plane cargo. And there’s a large number of people who feel that’s where pets belong, including a group of Canadian doctors who wrote an opinion earlier this year saying that the allergy risk from animals was too great for them to fly in the cabin with passengers.

But I’ve never felt comfortable with the temperatures in the uninsulated hold, particularly for a long cross-country flight (airlines usually restrict pet travel if temperatures in cities along the route are over 85 degrees or under 20 degrees). So we brought our cats in the main cabin with us. It cost $100 per pet one way on US Air, although some airlines charge up to $150. You also have to book in advance, as most airlines limit the number of pets that can be in the cabin on a single flight. Because we have two cats, I had to go back to Philly to pick up one of them, as nearly all airlines have a one-animal-per-person requirement when it comes to the cabin.

Cat in her carrier, pets on a plane

2. Allow your cats to get used to their carriers and stick in a few toys. My husband picked up the carriers a few weeks before the trip and left them out and open so the cats could get used to them. The ploy worked: Jigs adopted the open carrier as her personal bat cave. We also threw in some of their favorite toys (although who knows if that really helped).

Cats in their carriers, pets on a plane

3. Choose the correct carrier. Airlines have specific requirements for pet carriers; we were told that we couldn’t have a carrier higher than 17 inches. That was big enough for our cats, which are each under 10 pounds, but it would have been a tight squeeze for my last cat, a 20 pounder.

We’ve had trouble with our cats busting out of carriers in the past, but the Bergan Comfort Soft-Sided Pet Carriers that we bought were both durable and practical (although at $35 each, they weren’t the cheapest). I liked the padded shoulder strap that made the bag easy to carry, as well as a zipped “comfort opening”  that allowed us to stick our hands in the bag and pet the cats without giving them an escape route. Although they weren’t too happy to be cooped up, the cats did seem to like the removable fleece bottoms (remarkably, they didn’t soil them during the long trip) and the ventilated openings gave them plenty of opportunity to look out.

4. Make sure shots are up to date. We were told to get a Veterinary Health Certificate for the cats so we brought them for shots a few weeks before the trip. And it’s a good thing we did, as it turned out that Jigs had some serious tooth problems that we wanted to take care of before leaving. The airline never checked our pet health certificates, but we carried them with us, just in case. (You’ll definitely need special Health Certificates for international travel; check with customs to make sure of the vaccinations, check-ups and documentation that you’ll need).

Cats in their carriers, pets on a plane

5. Think about how you’ll handle security. If you bring your cat in the cabin, you’ll have to take it out of its carrier to go through security. This was no small task for us, as we had laptops, cameras and other valuables with us in our carry ons (and TSA was in no mood to help – one agent in Philly told me he hated cats and eyed Jigs like she was a weapon when I took her out, even though I told him that she was declawed and had lost most of her canine teeth to gum disease. Nice). We took it slow, allowing faster passengers to go in front of us. I also had Don go first with our more mellow cat, Zane, and made sure they were situated before I walked through with the squirmier Jigs.

Pill pocket treats for giving cats medicine

6. What about drugs? I had wanted to give the cats sleeping pills, but that’s before I knew that most vets are against them because tranquilized animals can have problems with body temperature, blood pressure and balance. Instead, they gave us a prescription for a small amount of Xanax that we gave the cats an hour before boarding.

Like most felines, our cats hate taking pills. So Don bought some “pill pocket” treats for the flight. You simply stuff the pill into the moist treat and trick the cats into eating it. I wasn’t sure that this would work – we’ve tried burying pills in food, to no avail – but the Greenies must have tastier that usual because both cats scarfed down the hidden medicine.

As to whether or not the Xanasx really relaxed them, I’m not sure. Our mellow cat Zane stayed quiet almost the entire trip. Jigs meowed constantly for almost two hours toward the end of the flight, although she wasn’t loud enough for most people around us to hear. .

Cats in their carrier, pets on a plane

7. Tell the flight attendant that you have a pet with you and ask your seatmates if they’re allergic. As we waited for a flight, a woman approached me with a tissue held to her nose. “I just have to ask you what row you’re in,” she said, sniffling. “I’m horribly allergic.”

Luckily her seat wasn’t close to ours. But as I entered, I told the flight attendant that we had cats and what row that we were in. I also asked the woman in the window seat near my aisle if she had a trouble for cat allergies. She didn’t, but thanked me for asking. It’s the nice thing to do.

Cat post-flight

8. Remember that ultimately, cats are adaptable. As soon as we brought the cats into their new home, we showed them their new litter boxes and gave them food and water. While they remained hyper for a few hours, they settled down into their normal routines in less than a day. It was almost as if the cross-country odyssey never happened.

To them, at least. I had stressed out over the whole adventure for a number of days, so I was happy that it all went well. But let’s just say that you won’t see our cats collecting passport stamps, as I’m not eager to repeat the experience anytime soon.

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{ 96 comments… read them below or add one }

Camels & Chocolate November 8, 2010 at 11:10 am

I’m taking my six-month-old puppy cross-country with me for Christmas and am really nervous about it…I’ve never flown with an animal, let alone by myself (husband’s meeting me there a week later). When my mom brought her dog out in the spring, she drugged her, but as Ella is just five pounds and so young, I’m nervous about doing that, too…did your airport actually require the health certificate? I’ve asked American, and they don’t specifically but they said some airports can demand it…at the same time, it’s $100 to get one from my vet (including the check-up) and I’ve already taken her four times this fall for all her puppy appointments and don’t want to pay again. Decisions, decisions.

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nancy November 10, 2010 at 3:57 pm

We fly with our small dog (10lbs)about once a year. We make sure we have treats in the pocket of her carrier. We put her blanket and a soft toy inside with her. We have an empty plastic dish so we can give her water if needed. Although we have gotten the doctor’s note each time, it has only been requested once. If you choose to get it, make sure of your dates. It must be done within 10 days of travel. However, remember that if you get it say on the 10th, fly out on the 15th and return on the 25th. It really isn’t valid. We have never gotten a second one and as I said, only one time has it been requested. Make sure you plan ahead because only 2 pets are allowed in the cabin area. Hope you do well.

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Jen Miller November 8, 2010 at 11:30 am

Excellent tip on asking seatmates if they’re allergic. I’m terribly allergic to cats and had a woman next to me bring one on and not tell me. Mid-flight I had to be moved to another seat. Harder to do when everyone’s already settled.

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The NVR Guys November 8, 2010 at 9:34 pm

While we no longer have a cat (single tear) – so won’t be traveling with a pet anytime soon – we enjoyed reading your post and seeing your kitties.

I love the pill pocket! We used to have this herbal concoction that you drip on your cat’s food to chill them out, which we would use when it was nail cuttin’ time. Always seemed to work like a charm. Perhaps we should use them when we have especially onerous flights!

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Susan November 8, 2010 at 10:57 pm

My brother-in-law is bringing his cat home for Christmas this year. I’m forwarding this post!

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Marianne Schwab November 14, 2010 at 1:51 am

Chris, this is a fantastic article with great advice for anyone traveling with CATS! You handled this expertly and I really appreciate your asking about other passengers being allergic. Incredibly important. On my international flight to Venice, Italy, a last year, I sat next to a gal who was taking “Buttons” the cat to her boyfriend moving from Pasadena. I told her she couldn’t have a better seat mate as I love kitties! Also, PILL POCKETS are the best invention of the century for pet owners. I just recently discovered them for my cat, Riley, who’s on a daily medication. I’m linking into this article from my webpage on traveling with pets! Thanks for the great advice!

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Chris November 15, 2010 at 2:26 am

Marianne – Thanks for your kind words (and th link on your page!) Pill pockets are amazing. I will never try to give my cats medicine without them in the future!

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Theresa November 16, 2010 at 9:14 am

My husband and I travel to a small house in Italy each summer for four to five weeks. We would like to bring our cats. The flight is 8 hours and then a five hour drive. Can anyone offer some advice? We really want to do what is best for them.

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tammy September 3, 2012 at 7:20 am

from the US? I don’t suggest it. Flying is pretty traumatic for most cats, and four weeks is not really such a long time. The requirements to take a cat to the EU are much, much more stringent than to/within the US. You will need a rabies shot and a titre test not more than a year old, and I believe also a feline distemper shot. The titre test must be completed by an EU-approved lab, of which I believe there are two or three in the US. Coming from the US to the EU is not so bad, and much better than from, say, China, but only you can answer whether the trouble is worth it in the end. If your cats adapt quickly and are not big scaredy cats, well, maybe they will enjoy the change of scenery!

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Cara November 20, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I’m a pet lover, unfortuneately I’m allergic to cats and dogs. I think there should be a 2 pet limit per cabin. Children too…just kidding. A heads up is a must. Think of it this way…your stress has been addressed, but now mine has been multiplied.

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Melissa December 14, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Hi Chris,
Thank you so much for posting your experience! I relocated to San Diego from Philadelphia in July. My cat drove cross country with my sister and I and she handled the drive like a champ! She will be flying home for Christmas with me. I’m hoping she does as well on the plane as in the car!

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Chris December 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Wow! San Diego to Philly is a long way. Are you bringing her in the cabin? Report back on how your experience goes!

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GLORIA January 10, 2011 at 4:53 am

It was wonderful going through this article on 8 tips on flying with your cats. I was troubled and really disturbed along with my daughter on taking my cats (4) on the long trip to the States. After going through the tips, you have reduced my tensions a lot. Though I believe the practical experience will teach me a lot on handling my cats on long journeys by air.
Thanks again for the valuable tips.

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Holly January 18, 2011 at 3:01 am

Hi Chris,

Thank you for posting about this subject. It’s quite informative especially since I keep reading many conflicting comments about cabin verses cargo. Some people said cabin was more stressful for the cat because of all the noises and smell. While others said cargo is worse because 1 in 100 pets in the U.S. either get lost, die or get seriously injured in it. I’m leaning more towards cabin because I feel it’s safer for my cat.

Here’s my situation, currently I’m living in Japan and will be moving back permanently to Arizona this June. I have a 6 year old cat that will hopefully be joining me in the cabin. Only one pet is allowed in the cabin so I’m going to be reserving my tickets the moment they go on sale. I already talked to an agent who is going to help me reserve the ticket and cabin space for my cat.

My flight from Japan to Phoenix is going to be about 12 hours long and that doesn’t include the 3 or 4 hours it takes for me to get to the airport! I’ve taken the flight many times before but not ever with a pet. This will be a first. I am so worried about how my cat can handle such a stressful ordeal. He’s an indoor cat (has never been outdoors unless we were taking him to the vet). He’s very set in his daily routines so I worry that this is going to be a horribly traumatic experience for him. We are going to start with getting everything in order with the vet, including health checks and certificates. We already have the checklist from the U.S. Embassy.

Certainly bringing the cat in the cabin on such a long flight is the only way to go, don’t you think? Any words of advice? This cat is my baby and I don’t know what I’d do if something bad happened to him.

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Chris January 18, 2011 at 10:50 am

Holly – I’d definitely try to bring your cat on the cabin. That’s a long trans-Pacific flight and I know that I’d feel better if my cat was with me. Sounds like you are doing the right thing by going to the vet and getting all the health checks and certificates that you need. I’d also ask your vet about the best way to keep your cat calm for that time. As I said in the post, ours prescribed Xanax.

I’ll also add this – my cats meowed at the end because they were curious and annoyed, not becuase they were in any sort of pain or discomfort (at least that’s how their meows sounded to me). Cats aren’t the most flexible animals but they can adapt when circumstances call, and I was probably more nervous about the whole thing than they were. I kinda wish I would have picked up a Xanax for myself! Good luck and let me know how it goes.

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Holly January 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Hi Chris and thank you so very much for your quick reply and advice.

I’ll definitely have to check about getting the Xanax. It might not be available here in Japan but perhaps they have something similar.

It would be nice to give something to calm my cat down because he does get hyped up over the most trivial of things. For instance, when I take him in the car to go to the vet, he cries and cries as if it is the end of the world. He makes such a BIG ordeal out of nothing! Because of this, I’ve decided that I should buy a carrier similar to the one you have and let my cat try to get comfortable using it over the next couple of months. Once he seems okay with it and feels it is a safe place, I will try to take him on some short trips in the car. Hopefully, eventually, he will realize that there is nothing to be afraid of and that the trip always comes to an end where he is safe back at home. It can’t hurt to try! At this point, I think that I will probably have more stress and anxiety than my poor cat.

Perhaps, I will try to create a blog similar to yours but mine will detail what it is like taking pets overseas. It might be difficult for me to get pictures though since I am going by myself. My husband will be coming along about a week later.

I will give you an update about how everything went once I’m back in the states.

Thanks again for all of your wonderful advice and suggestions!

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Chris January 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Holly – Cats will always cry. That’s their way of telling you that they are pissed off :) They are very good at guilt.

But yeah, our cats like sitting in their carriers. i think they feel it’s like a little den. Check with your airline to make sure you get one that fits their cabin regulations.

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C.L. May 8, 2012 at 4:24 am

This is a bit old of a comment now, but I’m hoping you’ll be able to answer still as I’m planning on flying back from Tokyo to the US with my 4 year old cat this summer. He’s a bit scared of things as he’s been an indoor cat forever and only been out to go to the vets as well, so I was wondering, how did it go? I’m planning on flying with him in the cabin in Premier if I can afford it so he can have more room on the floor. I’m afraid I’m worrying more about him than he might during the flight! If you can let me know how your little buddy did it with suuuuch along flight (that I can barely stand myself) please do! THanks!

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tammy September 3, 2012 at 7:41 am

it’s probably too late for these two posters, but i hope this helps people who might be looking to travel now. I flew from Shanghai to Berlin, Germany, with a stop in Amsterdam (avoid if possible!!!), with three cats in the hold of the plane. I did not give them any drugs. They are completely indoor cats, two are complete scaredy cats, the other courageous. They all came out of it unscarred. The cabin of the plane is loud and light, with constant changes in these two areas. This does not make for a calm cat. The climate controlled, pressure controlled hold is quiet and darker. It is definitely calmer than the cabin. For me, this is the better choice for my cats. I had no choice, though, as my two cats were over the weight limit for the cabin. (I do think that other passengers allergies should be considered too, but then I also think that my ears should be considered and people shouldn’t travel with babies….. )

It sounds to me like a lot of people take the cats with them in the cabin because this makes themselves feel better, not because it makes the cats feel better. There are relatively few instances of things going wrong with the handling of pet crates by airport staff. You can decrease the chance by following all requirements, getting a very good crate and trying to fly direct. No airline was a tragic animal story on its hands.

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Chris September 3, 2012 at 9:32 am

Thanks for sharing your experience, Tammy!

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Tenna February 16, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Tammy,

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am in a similar situation where I’m moving to Europe but I have a layover in Atlanta and then Amsterdam (there are absolutely no direct flights there!). I am so worried about my 2 cats. I was wondering why you put to avoid Amsterdam…? I’ve had multiple lay-overs there over the years, but of course I don’t know what it’s like for pets.
From what I understand there is a special cargo area for pets that’s temperature controlled. I have no other option than to let the cats fly cargo, as I’m flying by myself and there’s a one pet per person rule. I am actually fine with this, as I do believe this is what’s best for my cats.

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Holly January 22, 2011 at 5:34 am

Thanks Chris! I’m flying out on United Airlines and am thinking about going with the Sherpa Carrier. Supposedly, Sherpa and United have some sort of deal and United has an online form that can be filled out and submitted by customers who purchased Sherpa bags. If something happens at check in on the day of the flight and the bag is rejected, United will re-emberse the total cost of the flight as long as you have proof of that form. I figure I can’t go wrong there. The only stipulation is that the bag be size medium or smaller.

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Crescenda January 31, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Hi Holly,

I hope you don’t mind me butting into your conversation, but I’ll be traveling to Japan from the U.S. with my cat this summer and I was wondering if you’d successfully booked your ticket with United yet. I want to bring my cat as a carry-on inside the cabin, but many airlines don’t allow animals in the cabin for trips of that length. I’d love to know if you’ve had success with United, since that would be the first place I’d head to then. Thanks!

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shawna March 6, 2011 at 12:10 pm

I noticed in the pictures of them in the carriers it didn’t look like they could stand up and/or turn around. Is that ok?

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Don March 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Shawna – we initially selected the next larger size for the cats, but unfortunately, the carriers were larger than the airline’s allowed dimensions to fit under the seats. Therefore, we went down a size. While the cats could not stand up for a full stretch, they could easily turn around.

This was not a problem since our cats were sleeping and curling up in the carriers long before the actual flight, and most of the flight was spent sleeping anyway. Also, both or our cats are not large, at just under 10 lbs – we would have had to choose an alternative with larger cats.

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Phillip April 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Hi Chris, I’ve read your post here and find it very informative. I am planning on moving to Hawaii from Tennessee around the middle of July and have 3 cats. I am definately taking two of them and am unsure about the third. She is a 17 yr old tortoise shell that i’ve had since i was 11. Do you think the trauma/ physical (pressure) aspects of the flight would hurt or even kill her? I know one or 2 would end up in the cargo bay but the other 2 are 1 yr old so not as much concern health wise. Also the flight is going to have 2 changeovers, do you know how this is handled when pets are involved in the cabin OR in the cargo? Does the airline allow you to retrieve your cats between flights or are they transferred by employees with no contact during layovers? Thank you, and thanks again for these posts.

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Chris April 4, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Hi Phillip -

Lucky you, moving to Hawaii! It sounds like your younger cats will be OK, although it’s too bad that they have to go in the cargo. You’re moving during a hot time of year, so I would check with your airline to see what their policies are…some airlines have restrictions on the temperatures that animals can be flown in.

I’d talk to your vet about your older sweetheart. I’d bring her in the cabin with you, for sure, and see if Xanax or another calming pill will be OK. The cat(s) that you bring in the cabin with you would be next to you the whole time, but I doubt you’d be able to see you cats in cargo in between flights. Call the airline to see what their policies are.

Good luck with the move! Come back and let me know how it went, or what your vet said about it.

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Phillip April 13, 2011 at 6:06 am

Well, me and my girlfriend have decided to leave the cats in TN in the beginning of the move. We aren’t moving till July and actually aren’t going to have a place to stay when we land. We are going to have several thousand in our pockets to find somewhere but i can’t justify having my cats locked in a carrier for possibly 1-2 days after landing.

My father is retired Air Force tho and still has “hop” benefits from them. Him and my mother can fly to Hawaii from TN for about $10 a piece round trip (i know sick right? lol) and i have him researching whether or not he can take pets on one of these “hops”. We believe this will be the best and less traumatic idea for the cats. If you happen to know anything about this it would be appreciated. And i’ll post here when i find out if he is able to bring pets on these “hops” to possibly help other people having the same issues we are. Thanks for the fast reply also.

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Chris April 17, 2011 at 10:03 am

@Philip – I think you’re making a good decision. Best to get settled and know where you are staying before you bring your cats. Our cats have adjusted well to new homes, but I know other people who have had issues with their cats urinating because they’re afraid.

I’m not familiar with “hops.” Are they similar to the free and reduced trips that airline employees receive? And yes, if he can bring the cats in the cabin with him on a nonstop flight, that would be the best option. Again, I’d be leery of having them in the cargo hold for such a long time, particularly in the summer.

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Phillip May 1, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I found out that Hawaii is considered a “Rabies Free” territory. After researching what it would take to get them into the state, I found that it would cost about $1200 dollars per cat and almost 6 months of medical vaccines and blood tests. And after all that it is still not guaranteed that Hawaii department of agriculture would allow them off the plane without a 120 day quarantine at $13 a day cost to me. I love my cats dearly, but me and my fiance have decided that finding good homes for them here with family members is going to be the best option for us. I believe we are going to look at getting settled in our new state and adopting a new kitty from there. Thank you for all your information and help on this matter.

And yes “hops” is for military personnel and their immediate family. It is a ride on military cargo, refueling, personnel airplanes flying out of the continental U.S. When I was nine my parents and us three boys flew round trip to Hawaii for $10 a person on a refueler :)

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Chris May 2, 2011 at 8:26 am

@Phillip – Wow! I’d never heard that about Hawaii. Good to know. You’re making the right decision, I think. Waiting in quarantine would be very stressful for your furballs. Thanks for passing on the info to everyone here, and good luck with your move!

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Angela June 28, 2012 at 1:45 am

Hi there,
You’re right…after all of the vet visits, fees, etc. she’ll end up being more expensive to take than me, but we just don’t seem to be able to give her away, especially since we’ve had her in the family since she was 6 months old. Still, after reading your advice, I’ll continue with our plan of me heading out early to settle before bringing her along. Luckily, I have friends there, so I can stay with them until I get settled. Please pass along any advice on real estate as I’ll be desperately trying to find a place in time for me to bring Sassy back with me a few months later.

Thanks.
Thanks for this.

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Alonso L. June 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm

wow what great information. Thanks for posting this. My dilema is I have to fly to San Diego from Washington D.C. and then from San Diego to Central America. Continental and Delta both fly where I need to go, however I have a problem. My cat is 20 lbs and a few inches over to fit in a medium sized Sherpa soft sided bag. Does the airline really pay attention to wether the cat can stand in the bag and turn around? Could I get the large sized bag and tuck under the seat the excess material? what are your thoughts. Your help is greatly appreciated. I really dont want to expose my cat to a foreign customs house for two or three days alone and in a kennel carrier. after sitting in a cargo hold for 6 hours!

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Don Faust June 14, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Alonzo – I bought the cat carriers. I started with a medium size, and then returned them to get the small size. It was borderline small, but our cats are roughly 10 lbs each.

Technically, they could not fully stand up, but they could easily get up and turn around. The size of the carrier was dictated by the airline, which lists the size requirements on their site. After entering the plane, I realized that the medium size would have actually fit under the seat. I would recommend checking your airlines’ sites to see what their specifications are, and go from there. You might be risking it if you opt for a large carrier, which might not fit. You could always get a carrier first, and see how your cat moves around in it.

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Lucia October 3, 2011 at 11:50 am

Hi Don & Alonzo,
I purchased Sherpa Medium carriers for my cats (8 & 10 lbs each). That medium sized carrier is listed as approved for air travel and I confirmed this with my airline. The carrier is big enough for the cats to stand (just) and turn (comfortably, given their tight turning radius…). They also have plenty of mesh on the sides for ventilation.

My big question to Chris & Don is regarding ‘facilities’ for the cats for the trans-continental flight. I’m making the move from NYC to San Francisco, and my biggest concern (besides their freaking out, of course) is how long can the little ones hold it (both #1 & #1). If I include the time of arrival to the airport and the drive to our final destination, they will be in their carriers for over nine hours. So, Chris, when you say “liners” do you mean something specific to contain / absorb urine, should it happen?

thank you!

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Stacey June 21, 2011 at 8:57 am

First, thanks for all the great tips on traveling with cats, they are the only issue I have with moving to Ecuador from Canada. My question is what they do for a washroom while on long flights? Is there room in the carriers for a box?

Thanks again for all the great tips!!

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Chris June 24, 2011 at 9:10 pm

@Stacey – The carriers that you use in the plane aren’t really big enough for a box. Our cats were probably without one for about 9 hours total and they did fine, no accidents. I would put a towel at the bottom of the carrier and that way if they do go, it will at least be absorbed. If you are putting your cats in cargo, then you can get a carrier big enough for a small litter pan.

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melissa lee June 21, 2011 at 10:46 am

Hey, Your post was awesome. Thanks for sharing it. I am having a bit of a dilemma…. i’m moving from South Korea to Canada in August and am having a terrible time choosing where to put my little baby…cargo or cabin. She is about 4.8 kilograms and I’m worried that she would be really uncomfortable. However, I hate the thought of leaving her all alone (with no one to check on her) for the 14 hour flight. Then again, i’m terrified that she will freak out on the plane and people might want to kill me by the end of it. I got some all natural calming treats for her and hope that they work for either cargo or cabin. I am terrible at making decision and would like your opinion. Thanks again for your post!

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Chris June 24, 2011 at 9:12 pm

@melissa – Wow, that’s a long flight. As you can tell by the post, I’d rather have my cats with me in the cabin. Get the calming treats and keep giving them to her. Our vet gave us Xanax for the pets. I would have given Jigs another one when she started meowing, but that didn’t come until the trip was almost over. Good luck with it!

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RobW June 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm

Thanks for all the informative posts; we’re moving from D.C. to Mexico soon and this is the best information we’ve come across.

We had a cat who developed classic separation anxiety and was on twice-daily Xanax for years; it makes cats way less loopy than Valium.

So we hope we can get our three kids to Mexico in the least stressful way possible (i.e., with the proper administration of Xanax :-) ; if we have to buy a few extra plane tickets to have them all in the cabin at one point or another, it will be well worth it.

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nelson July 2, 2011 at 12:16 am

I WILL BE FLYING WITH 2 CATS IN CARGO – EACH CAT IN SEPERATE LARGE CARRIERS FOR ALMOST 12 HOURS-IS IT POSSIBLE TO PLACE LITTER AT REAR OF CARRIER ? DOMESTIC FLIGHT IN CANADA -VANCOUVER TO CALGARY TO WINDSOR ONT. -ALSO PETS IN CARGO ARE SEPERATED FROM LUGGAGE – TEMPERATURE CONTROLLED ROOM WITH LIGHTS – MY 15 LB. CAT HAS A LOUD MEOW -IT WOULD BOTHER PASSENGERS BIG TIME !

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Steve Z July 11, 2011 at 2:43 pm

Hey, thanks very much for the post. I know it was awhile ago, but it is one of the first that comes up in a Google search for flights with cats.

I’m being considered for a position in Singapore and wouldn’t be able to handle leaving my two cats behind. They’re my guys. For now they’ll hang out with my girlfriend here and then we she comes out, the cats will as well.

The kicker? It’s a 25 hour flight from Philly to Singapore. It’s gotta be done with them in the cabin…I couldn’t stick ‘em in cargo. One is 13.5 pounds and the other is 11 and change. Not sure how well this will work, but you gave some great tips.

Thanks!

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Chris July 13, 2011 at 9:46 pm

@Steve – Oh wow. Your flight makes mine look like a puddle jumper. Just remember that if you’re going to bring them in the cabin, they’ll only let you bring one per person. I’m glad this helped. When you get them there, check back and let us know how it went!

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Jasmine February 17, 2012 at 2:32 am

Hi there Steve,
I know that you did this last year, however i currently live in Singapore…originally from Canada. I took a teaching job here and LOVE it! My parents are currently taking care of my baby ‘tony’ …but i would love to bring him here. Did you happen to figure everything out with your cat? …details please?!?!?
‘Tony’ is my pride and joy…i love him like he were my child…heck, he pretty much is (people say we have a really weird relationship…i just love him too much, if that’s possible).
anyway, please let me know how it all went down as i’m really interested….i want to stay in singpoare longer, however i NEED my cat here with me.

I look forward to hearing from you

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Destinie August 17, 2011 at 7:53 am

Hi chris! I was just scoping the internet for my cat Ms Valentine. I am going from Philly to Fresno,CA. I am taking South West airlines it,s really great with a cheap price $75. to come back and go…Just one miss hap, my cat has never flown before. And i am afraid she will get in trouble from her meowing she really isn,t the skttish type and she does not have much stress that i notice. I,m definately taking her to cabin with me. no doubt. but the carrier situation is confusing to she is a small cat and i want to get her one that fits her is their a certain cheap brand u prefer. and how does one from walmart sound it,s really cute and pink idk how about you???

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Sandra August 20, 2011 at 12:00 am

Thanks for sharing your experience.

I am from Mexico and planning to get my masters degree in Sweden or Finland.

I rescued 2 cats, they are around 1/2 years old.
Dolce is adventurous, likes to wander, is not afraid of new people (or not as much), I guess because she was a stray for a few months before I got her.

I got Gabanna very young, she was never a stray so I guess that is why she is more afraid and nervous than Dolce.
Anyway I am flying alone, so .. you say I won’t be able to take the two cats with me?

Only one in the cabin? Would I be a bad mother (lol) if I sent Gabanna in the cargo cabin? Even if I was able to bring both cats with me she has a LOUD MEOW and I dont want to bug other people too much. (Although I have been bugged by their babies and kids too many times already).

Poor cat without her mom and sister!!
Do you think it would be better if both went in cargo so they at least keep company?

Another option is to leave them with an ex, or at a hostel, that may cost me more than my own studies and expenses… but I feel bad, I left my cats 2 weeks with the ex and the litter box was not that clean, and Gabanna seemed sad and neglected. 2 years living in a room does not seem fair to them either.

Maybe I can find a cat lover here, so they are loved, I dont stress and can travel a bit over there, and come back to my cats… but would they forgive me??

OMG so many questions.

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Tara September 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I just flew with my two cats in the cabin too, what an adventure. Things were going well until my cat bit a whole in her carrier and escaped on the flight. http://www.tarametblog.com/2011/09/cats-on-plane.html

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AnaLilah October 11, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Hi Chris.
This post is tremendously helpful! thanks:)
I’m relocating from Portugal to Kuwait with a layover, so I’ve decided to travel with Cookie (my tabby) in cabin. I’m a nervous flyer and it’s my cat’s first flight too. But your post was really nice to read, thanks:) Just was sad about reading one thing: your cats are declawed:( Fortunately they don’t allow it here, since it’s considered animal mutilation…but still your feline buddies seem to be happy enough…
Cheers

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amanda October 18, 2011 at 10:42 pm

hi i read your page and still have a couple questions i have to bring my cat smokey with me on the plane and he will be under the seat the flight is only an hour and a half but im worried because he wails so bad and loud when i put him in a carrier will that be ok? do you think they will land they plane and make us get off before we reach our destination? i moved and i have to go back and get him as he is staying with my mom right now and am really worried about his trip

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Chris October 19, 2011 at 9:01 am

Hi Amanda – I’d ask your vet for some kitty Xanax for Smokey. We gave our cats some, and it did calm them down for most of the trip. It’s much safer for them than giving them a drug that knocks them out completely. I found that the trip itself wasn’t as bad as the worrying that we did! So maybe a little Xanax for mommy isn’t a bad thing either :) Hope this helps and good luck with your trip! I’m sure Smokey will be fine.

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Morgan December 2, 2011 at 1:01 pm

With the price of boarding my cat at the vet’s office getting so expensive, I tried flying with my cat for the first time this holiday season. I followed your guide (the pill pockets worked wonders) and everything went smoothly! Thank you for this great resource.

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Emily December 15, 2011 at 11:10 am

I have two cats and I am moving to Germany so I have to fly. Will they let me fly with both of them? I could not imagine leaving them here.

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Chris December 16, 2011 at 9:23 am

Emily – Traveling overseas with pets has even more regulations. I would check to see what Germany’s customs policy is toward pets. I’m sure that you will need vet records that vaccinations are up to date and possibly a blood test. And I would make sure that you fly direct to Germany without stopping in a country that has a quarantine period for animals, such as the UK.

As far as bringing cats in the cabin, you will probably only be able to bring one with you and the other will have to go in cargo. Or you can put both in cargo so they have each other as comfort.

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Shali December 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Hey,
I will be traveling with my cat for the first time next week. I have done a lot of research already but I feel more confident about the journey after reading this. Thanks for the great tips !
BooBoo (my kitty) is very vocal. She loves to meow through out the day, especially in the car. I am afraid that she will be crying through out the flight. I had attempted to get sleeping pills but the pet suggested against. Do you have suggestions other than Xanthax (as I don’t have time to go to the vet again)?

Thank you !

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Chris December 16, 2011 at 9:16 am

Shali – I’m not sure if there are over-the-counter medications that would have the same effect as Xanax. I agree that sleeping pills aren’t the solution. Maybe someone else here has some ideas of meds that calm cats down? I will say that while my cats meow in the car on the way to the vet, they didn’t meow in the airport or on the airplane. But they aren’t that vocal at home either.

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Cathy December 16, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Chris – I am so glad I found your site. On Christmas Eve my daughter and I will be flying from Atlanta to Denver, and we will have my son’s cat with us. He is moving and will be driving cross-country, so I volunteered to fly his baby out there. I am really beginning to panic as he lives in another city and I’ve only seen his cat once or twice, so he is not at all familiar with me or my daughter. He is, however, a very sweet and outgoing cat.

My primary concern is taking him out of the carrier to go through the metal detectors. Does his harness and leash have to be completely free of metal? I am considering asking the TSA agent to let us go into one of the private rooms so that we can have better control of him, as I am terrified he will try to get away from me. (My neighbor works for Delta and assures me that everyone has the right to ask for a private screening room for any reason at all). If this were one of ours I wouldn’t be nearly so frightened by all this, as I know how to handle them.

We are taking him to our vet three days before the flight to get the health certificate as well as any medication he feels might be helpful.

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Cathy December 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Well, I took my son’s cat to the vet today – he was amazingly good! He’s been uprooted from his home, driven 4 hours to Atlanta, is living in the furnished basement of the home of total strangers (who have provided LOTS of loving attention), and then taken to the vet who checked him over pretty well and gave him all his vaccinations. Yet he’s still sweet and playful. I asked the vet about tranquilizers for the plane trip and he said absolutely not – he said this animal doesn’t need them and they can cause problems, so he doesn’t recommend them except for extremely high-strung animals.

I got another harness for him today, as the previous one I purchased was too small. Haven’t put it on him yet but he’s 13.25 lbs and it’s adjustable up to 16 pounds so it should be okay. I also purchased the Delta Sherpa soft-sided bag and he’s even gotten in it a couple of times (I took him to the vet in a different carrier, but again, he didn’t even cry. Just astounding – he’s far better than our cats). I’m feeling much better about this trip. I just hope he’s this cooperative when we go through security.

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Chris December 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Cathy – It sounds like you’re set to go! Cats are much more resilient than we think they are. Sure, they like to complain. But I’m sure your son’s little guy will make it through the trip just fine!

Security should be OK. Just let the TSA agents know that you have a cat and ask them what they want you to do. As I said, they had us take ours out and walk through with them. Piece of cake! Just hold tight to him and he should be good.

Report back and let us all know how it went!

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Cathy January 1, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Well, it didn’t go exactly as planned :-( We couldn’t get a harness OR a collar on him, so my daughter and I flew without him as we just didn’t feel that we could handle him without one. So he stayed here with my husband. We are now back in Atlanta but my son is flying home on the 7th to pick him up. I was able to get him a very reasonably priced ticket for that weekend. In retrospect that is probably what we should have planned to do all along. And the Atlanta airport was absolutely crazy on Christmas Eve, so it probably all worked out for the best. Now my son has had time to settle in to his new apartment and everything will be ready for him.

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Chris January 2, 2012 at 4:16 pm

@Cathy – It sounds like your new plan will actually be better for the cat. I’m glad that you didn’t have to face the Christmas Eve crowds with a pet, as that would have been stressful. Thanks for reporting back!

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Cathy January 8, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Chris – my son and his precious cargo are now safely ensconced in Boulder, CO! Everything went extremely well; he requested and got to go into a private room for screening. ATL airport was virtually dead last night, such a far cry from Christmas Eve! Son had a struggle getting the harness on but was able to do so. He said Steely was PERFECT on the plane…slept for about an hour, played with his toys, and didn’t make a sound.

I can highly recommend the DELTA Sherpa pet carrier for anyone looking to purchase a soft-side carrier. My son said it was just fantastic.

Thanks again for this website and all the good information!

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Chris January 8, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Cathy – Glad to hear that Steely is safe in his new home. Thanks for reporting back!

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nancy January 4, 2012 at 8:59 am

I have two cats. Jack, 18 lbs, 4 years old. Jill, 6 months old, 3-4 lbs. I am flying alone to Florida. Which one should I put in Cargo and which in the cabin? Jill seems to cry more when she is seperated from me. Is Cargo safe on Delta or southwestern?

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Chris January 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Nancy – I would talk to your vet about which cat would do better in cargo. I’m thinking that it would be less traumatic for Jack, as he’s a big boy! Love their names, btw.

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Gina January 31, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Great advice, I am getting ready to fly from DFW to Portland Oregon, with my 14 year old cat Angel I would leave her with sister for the 7 days but angel hates her husband and not happy with her 11 year old daughter because she brought home a l kitten after we arrived and then she would become anxious because I was not there things could get ugly , THEN Angel and I are going to drive all the way back with our new used station wagon THANKS MOM AND DAD I LOVE YOU YOU ARE THE BEST.
This trip worries me because angel may be getting senile she has been very irritable and territorial lately.

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Holly February 13, 2012 at 8:49 am

Hi all,

It’s been a long time since I last wrote on this. I was the one who was going to transport my cat from Japan to the U.S.

Well as you know, on March 11th of last year, Japan had the major earthquake. Of course that changed a lot of things. After the earthquake, the radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant was extremely high and the U.S. Embassy recommended that all U.S. citizens evactuate Tokyo and the surrounding areas. I ended up leaving Japan on March 16th, just before the evacuation alert was given, and my husband stayed behind with the cat and till he heard further information. The very next day, the Embassy gave word and my husband booked a flight with I believe Delta. We were very fortunate because we had already started the process of getting everything prepared for cat’s trip months before (we were supposed to move back in June). All of the vet appointments and shots were up to date.

As you might know, Delta only allows 2 animals aboard the plane in the cabin on overseas flights. Although all flights out of Japan were sold out, my husband was very fortunate to get one and was able to get the cat aboard. All the checks at the airport went smoothly with the exception there was a big aftershock just as he was getting ready to board the plane. Thankfully, he got off in time and not too soon after they closed the airport for a week.

The cat was amazingly calm and didn’t cry at all during the trip. He was very well behaved with the long 15 hour flight. In total, he had to be in that bag for 24 hours. Thankfully, my husband had the opportunity to let the cat out of the bag for a little bit in the airplane bathroom. At that time, the cat did drink water.

Although the cat was stressed once he got to his new surroundings, he was very happy to be around my husband and I. That evening he did drink water but would not eat. I guess it was from the stress of everything. Early the very next morning though, he did eat right away and was curious and excited to get to know his new surroundings.

He has recovered fine and is back to his old self now. I thank God we could bring him to the U.S. and he wasn’t harmed in the terrible earthquake. It was a scary situation for us all but also life changing, in a good way.

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Chris February 13, 2012 at 11:12 am

Holly, thanks so much for taking the time to respond. I know that other readers were curious. Thank goodness you were able to get the cat out after 3/11! I’m glad to know that she – and the rest of you, of course – are safe.

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Holly February 13, 2012 at 9:20 am

Hi Crescenda,

I’ll have to double check what airline I ended up flying on. It was such a stressful time. For some reason, I’m thinking it was Delta.

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Mark February 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Hello Holly,

I was very happy to come across your post. I live in Fukushima, and I flew out of Japan last March 16, too. Maybe we stood in those massive lines at Narita together. My wife and our cat flew to her parents’ home in Osaka that same day.

We are planning to leave Fukushima for good and move to Phoenix around May or June, where I hope to find work teaching. (I’ve been teaching English at a college here in Fukushima for 20 years.) I plan make the necessary arrangements with an airline and to have our vet here fill out the “pet export application form” just before we leave. You mentioned that you most likely flew on Delta, so maybe I’ll try them. I very definitely want to take our old Leo (he’s 18 years old) with me in the cabin, so I plan to buy a small Sherpa pet carrier. Did you have to do anything at U.S. immigration or upon arrival in Phoenix? I guess there’s no quarantine requirement for cats, but was there anything else?

Thanks for the help! I hope you’re thriving in the U.S., but I bet you miss Japan sometimes, too. I know I will.

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Holly February 26, 2012 at 10:25 am

Hi Mark and sorry for my delayed response. Wow, I just cannot believe both you and I flew out the same day, March 16th! That is amazing. Yes, the lines were terrible as well as the airfares!

I left Haneda just before midnight and there was a large earthquake right then and there in the airport. Alarms were going off and people were terrified. It was really scary and I honestly thought my flight would not take off due to it. Thankfully, everything was fine and my flight on time.

Anyway, I found out that we did fly with Delta. Fortunately, we were planning to move in June so we already had all of the necessary vet paperwork completed when the earthquake hit. You’ll have to double check with Delta but as of when we left, they would allow up to 2 animals in the aircraft cabin at a time. Hopefully, their rules will still be the same. Just reserve your tickets way ahead of time to be safe.

Just as with you, we had the Sherpa bag and that worked out very well for us. We put an extra blanket in it and my husband felt it was a good decision because the cat was able to cover his head somewhat and not have to deal with the loud aircraft sound during the flight. I can’t imagine how that must sound to a cat.

My husband said that he only had to go to the quarantine section at Haneda airport and had to have all of the vet paper work in hand. They examined the cat and signed the papers. After that, he was good to go. Once he arrived in the U.S., he did not have do anything at all with the cat. Everything was completed. He just brought the cat directly home.

Well, you will be back just in time for the HOT summer here in Phoenix! I will pray everything goes smoothly with your trip and that Leo will have an easy journey. I know that my cat is back to his old, lazy ways and doesn’t have a care in the world. LoL!

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Sadie February 14, 2012 at 11:06 am

Great article!

I couldn’t stop chuckling when I read that you were traveling between Philly and Seattle because I’m making the same flight (but in the other direction).

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Laura March 25, 2012 at 3:50 am

Poor babies, I don’t enjoy flying myself, so I can definitely understand what a pain in the arse flying is for the sensitive cats’ ears. I didn’t know they allowed pets in the cabin, but I believe that’s the right thing to do. I’m a crazy cat lady, therefore if you would have sit next to me on the plane, your cats would have been in some serious danger. You know, love can hurt :D

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Donna Matthewson May 9, 2012 at 11:43 am

My 12 year old neutered Siamese cat and I are moving to Florida from Denver Co. He is a big 18lb. boy. Will he fit in the soft side carrier you mentioned? If not should we just make the drive instead? Thanks for you input in advance.

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Chris May 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Donna – I took a look at the dimensions of the bag, and it says that it can handle pets up to 22 pounds. If you have some time before your trip, maybe you can get one and see if he fits (plus, then he’ll have time to get used to it).

Whether or not you want to drive all that way is a personal choice. I made several road trips with my old cat, Perry. We drove from Pennsylvania to Louisiana; Louisiana to Rhode Island, and back again; and then another trip from Louisiana to Philadelphia. But that was mostly because I had to get my car to the new locations and didn’t have the option of shipping. Cats on the road is a different post all together!

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samar May 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Hi,
I am residing in dubai planing to move malaysia.
I have 4 years old male Persian cat,oh i dont call him,he is my baby.I love him alot.we both cant be seperated.so we are moving to Malaysia.Its a 7 hour journey.I dont know what i am going to do.How much it costs?
but at any cost ill take him with me.Is that fine to travel in cabin?
any suggestion.
Thanks a lot.

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Chris May 27, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Hi Samar – You should check with the airlines to see if you can bring him in the cabin, as well as the customs rules for Malaysia to make sure that there isn’t a quarantine.

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Alyssa May 27, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Thanks for this! Moving my cat from NYC to SF this month and she is naturally very nervous, so I want to do everything I can to make her comfortable!

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Angela June 28, 2012 at 1:48 am

Thanks for this. I’ll be moving back home to Hawaii with my 12-year old cat, Sassy. I’m probably more worried about it all than she is. It’s a five hour flight from here so I wondered if there is any chance of letting her out on the leash in the airport while waiting for your flight? It just seems like a long time to be cooped up, especially since she’ll also have to stay in her carrier upon arrival because she’ll need to be directly transport to Animal Quarantine to be checked out. This will tack on another two+ hours to her cramped living space.

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Adrienne September 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Thanks for your blog post! I’m moving cross-country and have been doing the whole anxious debate of drive for 5 days with 2 cats (one who is really scared of new noises, freaks out, etc.) in the back of my CR-V with modified dog crates (stacked, multiple openings to connect, lower part w/ cave, upper part with terrace to watch out window, harnessed/leashed cats (already trained)) or to fly direct, which is still 2 hrs to airport, 2 hrs hanging around the airport in carrier, 6 hrs under the seat, and then 2 hrs driving to final destination). I can’t decide. Driving is 25% cheaper, but I’m wondering if I’m needlessly freaking out for my cats and they’d really be just fine in a plane under the seat. I’ll ask about xanax with my vet (which could help either situation). The flight I’ve picked out is a red-eye — leave west coast at midnight and arrive on the east coast at dawn. I think the plane is so loud anyway that any cat howls will be lost noise under the seat…except for maybe the closest people. And my cats will howl.

Thoughts? If you could have driven, would you?

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Jenni September 5, 2012 at 9:08 pm

I have to put my cats in cargo because I’m flying FROM Hawaii to DC. Is this safe? I’m so worried. HELP!

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Kelly November 13, 2012 at 7:23 am

I’m moving from Minneapolis, MN to Seattle, WA in February of 2013 with a large dog (a golden retriever) and my 15 pound, 13 year old cat Bernice. I’m moving for a job which has me starting and training in Phoenix for one week prior to actually starting in Seattle. I am trying to figure out the best, least-stressful way to get my pets to Seattle with me. I do not want to have my dog fly in cargo, but it is looking like that may be my only viable option. Has anyone had experience with this? Also, my cat does not like motion and howls at the top of her lungs when we are in the car. Any suggestions on how to keep her quiet on the plane? Anyone else have a cat that is normally sweet and calm and then goes crazy when in a moving vehicle that has successfully flown?

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Chris November 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Hi Kelly –

Your best bet for a dog that big is to put him in cargo. I’d check with the airlines to make sure that they will transport animals on that route during February, as some do not take animals in the hold in the winter. We gave our cats a bit of Xanax and my most argumentative, Jigs, kept quiet until the last hour. The flight between Minneapolis and Seattle is not as long as the one we took, so hopefully one pill will keep her calm. We were more concerned about her being quiet on the plane than in the airport ahead of time, so we gave our cats their pills before we boarded, not when we left the house.

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Niska November 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Hi Chris,

I will be flying from Portugal to San Francisco with my 1 year old cat. I would like to take him with me in the cabin. I will be flying with United with one stop in Newark. On the website United says” Rules for international in-cabin pet acceptance vary widely”. I called them several times and they confirm that I can take my cat with me. However I’ve been reading some contradictory information on the web regarding United international flights pet policy.
Do you know anyone that flew with a pet under these circumstances?
I already bought the carrier according to United requirements and I have all the paperwork needed. I just need to clarify this as I don’t want to have any last minute issues!!!
Thank you very much!

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Nara December 6, 2012 at 9:52 am

Thanks for sharing your story! I am going to travel with my kitty very soon and I’d like to know if you can specify on how much was the amount of xanax exactly and how many miligrams? Please and thank you!

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Mimine January 18, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Hi,

Thank you for this post. My owner has been pretty neurotic about taking me from Montreal, Canada to Budapest, Hungary (with a 5-hour layover in Frankfurt) this coming February. Although she already knew a lot of what’s on here due to her exhaustive (I would say obsessive, but hey I’m just a cat) research, I think she feels better reading that she’s not the only one who worries about her sweet, loving fur-child (that’s me!)

I’m 15 pounds (what can I say, I like my food) so it’s been a challenge getting flights with in-cabin weight allowances that work for me, but I think she’s finally got it sorted out. What she’s not sure about is how to handle the litter situation? I don’t really want to pee (or worse) inside my carrier and she can’t find those collapsible litter boxes anywhere. I might not even go because I’m going to be stressed to the max, but do you have anything you can suggest to her just the same? (Her name is Cara, by the way). How about a piece of newspaper on the airport bathroom floor, with a bit of litter on it? Will I pee on that, maybe?

Love and purrs,
Mimine

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Chris January 26, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Aw, Mimine. Thanks for stopping by. It looks like you can order a collapsible, disposable litter box online. Here’s a link to something that might work: http://www.gadgetsgo.com/collapsible-disposable-kitty-litter-tray-pan.html. Safe travels, and don’t stress too much!

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Niska January 26, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Hi Mimine,

I traveled with my cat from Porto (Portugal) to San Francisco and I totally understand your concerns. The whole preparation can be really stressful for the cat and for us.

Eddie is around 11 lbs but he is very long and fluffy so he looks massive. I was afraid that the agent at the gate wouldn’t allow me to board :) To be honest I think only a few persons realized that I was traveling with a cat…. I was not aware of this disposable litter boxes so I used pads. My husband bought it from Petco.

Eddie was pretty quiet for most of the trip, except during takeoff and during some short periods of turbulence where he got pretty upset and meowed for a bit. Eddie didn’t poop.. but he did pee on both flights . I asked the cabin crew if I could take Eddie to the toilet to change the pad and they were ok with it. Of course I had to put him a leash just in case…

When I got to Newark I took him out of the carrier and let him walk a bit with the leash and I changed again the pad. He drunk water, I gave him some treats and we pass through security again for our second flight. I let him out of the carrier until the boarding process started so he could stretch and get ready for the second flight.
When we got to San Francisco he was tired (so was I) but everything went smoothly and he is now adjusting to his new home.

I wish you a great flight!!! Everything will be just fine!!!!

PS: I was not sure if I should send my cat as cargo or in the cabin. I don’t regret at all flying with him in the cabin. We moved from Scotland to Porto in July and he traveled as cargo. It was really much more stressful experience for him as he was by himself.

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Chris January 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Niska – Thanks for weighing in and sharing your experience with Eddie. He must be a pretty special cat if you can put him on a leash! I agree that the cabin is better than cargo.

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Katie February 9, 2013 at 12:38 am

I’m flying from NZ to the States with 2 cats, one is an older cat, 15/16 years and I am really anxious since he’s not the easiest cat, previously been treated for thyroidism but all is okay now in that respect. Any advice?

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billie day February 24, 2013 at 7:42 am

Have read almost everything you have written here about traveling by air with our beloved cats, but never saw how they go potty………………..I am flying from LAX to Bogota Columbia a long flight and I most certainly will need a few potty breaks I am sure my Lady Blanche will,

thanks and am so so glad I found this site and your wonderful photos on FB as I am a photographer

hugs

billie

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Chris February 28, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Billie –

Our cats didn’t go during the trip. I’ve read that you can buy absorbent pads to put in the carrier with them. But for the most part, cats will hold it.

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Kris March 15, 2013 at 1:52 am

I am flying out of Tokyo to Denver with a layover in San Francisco with my cat.
She is up to date on her vaccines and has an id chip as well. I read on the US Tokyo Embassy site that cats do not require the rabies vaccine to enter the USA, only dogs require that. Is that true? I am starting to worry that I got it wrong.

Kris

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Coco's Mom April 29, 2013 at 2:23 am

Chris, I know you have a lot of comments here, but I’d appreciate it very much if you could confirm for me that you took a 20 pounder on board. On what airline again? I’ve heard there are weight limits. It would be a great relief to me to learn I can bring my 15 -20 pounder on board. He’s the only one I’ve got, but he’s not tiny. He is easily terrified as I’ve rescued him from a traumatic time and I think that cargo, the strangers, noise and discomfort issues will not do for him. Thanks :-)

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Chris May 17, 2013 at 11:49 am

Hi Coco’s Mom – I can’t confirm that, because I never did fly with my 20-pounder. I believe another commenter said they took a big boy on their flight. I’d call some airlines to check to see if they have weight limits. I would think that if he could stand up and move around in a standard carrier, you’d be fine. But that’s just an opinion!

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Coco's Mom May 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Hi Chris, thanks for the reply. I’ve been working on this and I’ve found that not only is my big boy only about 14 pounds, but also that he has no trouble turning around in a regulation Sherpa bag. I’ve asked around a lot now. Looks like the weight limit is hardly ever strictly enforced when you are talking a couple of pounds and a cat. So I think you’re right on, if the cat turns around easily, that’s the main thing. A huge relief :-)

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Michaelene May 7, 2013 at 2:24 am

I have two cats and there’s a possibility I will be living in Japan. I currently live in LA. Are my cats allowed to fly with me? Or do I have to put them under the plane? Am I allowed to ask for a private screening room? I want them as safe as possible, they are my babies. Also, is there a quarantine for getting into Japan from the US? How long if any? If I have to get us first class tickets I will!

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