Friday, May 27, 2011

Air Travel & Cats, A Guest Blog By Kim A. Salerno Of

Planning to fly the friendly skies with your feline friend?  Following some common sense tips will help ensure a happy and safe flight for you and your cat.
Before you begin your trip, be sure that your cat is "up" for the journey. This means a visit to the vet for a medical checkup and to ensure that your cat is up-to-date with all necessary vaccinations. Be sure to tell your vet about your plans to travel by air. Your vet can recommend to you whether your cat is medically prepared for this method of travel.  However, you must also take into consideration the demeanor and temperament of your cat when determining whether airline travel is a good choice for your little friend.  You know your cat best.  Once you’ve got the green light, here are some tips that will help make you and your cat’s air travel happy and safe.

·         Be sure to familiarize yourself with the pet policies of the airline you are flying and take note of the following in regards to their pet policies:

o    Does the airline allow you to take your cat in the cabin with you?
o    If that option isn't available to you, does the airline have any restrictions on transporting your cat below the cabin?
o    Does the airline have any special pet health and immunization requirements?
o    What are the airlines specifications and requirements for pet carriers?
For a comprehensive list of pet friendly airlines and their pet policies, go to

  • Health Certificate:  During your pre-trip vet appointment, ask your vet to issue a health certificate for your cat.  This typically needs to be dated within ten days of departure.  Carry this with you while traveling with your cat, as it may be required at different points throughout your travel.
  • Non-Peak Flights:  Consider booking a non-peak flight, which typically means less passengers and more cabin room. This will help ease potential stress for your cat.
  • Direct Flights:  Use direct flights.  Changing planes with your cat may cause undue stress on your cat.

  • Flights & Extreme Temps:  If traveling during the summer or winter months, choose flights that will accommodate the temperature extremes, particularly if your cat is traveling below the cabin.
  • Same Flight & Notify Airline Staff:  Always travel on the same flight as your cat. Ask the airline if you can watch your cat being loaded and unloaded below the cabin.   In addition, when you board the plane, notify a flight attendant that your cat is traveling with you as special precautions may be taken.
  • Be Early:  Have everything packed early and leave early to allow plenty of time to deal with normal air travel as well as your cat’s needs. Keep yourself calm before the flight as cats sense your stress and anxiety.
  • Select the Right Carrier:  Carriers are available in both hard-sided and soft-sided.  Soft-sided carriers are more suitable for carry-on and tend to fit better under the seat.  Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations as far as the appropriate size carrier for your cat.  The proper size carrier should allow your cat to be able to lie down comfortably, stand up and turn around.  Ensure for proper ventilation and comfort.  In addition, be sure to properly line the carrier with an absorbable material to catch waste and spills.  Find airline approved cat carriers at the TWP Store.
  • Carrier Familiarization:   Give your cat at least a month before your flight to become familiar with the travel carrier. This will minimize his or her stress during travel. In addition, include a favorite toy or item with your scent in the carrier with your cat for comfort.
  • Travel Label:  Affix a travel label to the carrier with your name, your cat’s name, the name of your final destination or contact person, home and final destination addresses, as well as your home, cell, and final destination phone numbers.
  • Proper Collar & ID:  Fit your cat with a collar that can't get caught in carrier doors. Affix two pieces of identification to the collar—a permanent ID with your name, your cat’s name, home address and telephone number and a temporary travel ID with the address and telephone number where you or a contact person can be reached.
  • Trim Nails:  Make sure that your cat's nails have been clipped to protect against their hooking in the carrier's door, holes, and other crevices.
  • Feeding:  Do not feed your cat for four to six hours prior to air travel. Small amounts of water can be given before the trip.  If possible, secure a collapsible travel bowl to the inside of the carrier and place a few ice cubes in it.
  • Photo:  Bring along a current photo of your cat. This will make it easier for others to help you find your cat should your cat get separated from you.
  • No Tranquilizers: Do not give your cat tranquilizers unless your veterinarian prescribes them. Make sure your veterinarian understands that the prescription is for air travel.
  • Upon Arrival:  When you arrive at your destination, open the carrier as soon as you are in a safe place and examine your cat. If anything seems wrong, take your cat to a veterinarian immediately.  Get the results of the examination in writing, including the date and time.
For more information on flying with your cat, visit - the premier online guide for pet travel. offers resources to ensure pets are welcome, happy, and safe when traveling. Visit, to find a directory of pet friendly hotels & lodging across the U.S. and Canada, airline pet policies, pet travel tips, pet travel supplies, along with other pet travel resources.


  1. Wow....a very complete and informative blog!

  2. Aunty Caren,
    Brad and I have travelled from Sydney to Kuala Lumpur. Mama took the short cut - appoint a professional transporter and they do the A-Z. Easy peasy. We've blogged about it. purrr...meow!

  3. I had a pet rat, Hunny. She made a plane trip once. It was funny watching her little covered cage going along the conveyer belt towards the plane. Some of the workers peeked into the cage. But they werent expecting to see a rat! LOL!

  4. Those are great tips!!! We should make sure everything is checked and well taken care of before we take our pets for any flights. We've to play safe before boarding in order to make sure everyone has a safe and good flight.

  5. @Lisa, I agree! Kim did a FABULOUS job!

    @Priscilla they sure are! Thank you for your helpful comment too!

    @Alittlesprite I am sorry but you made me laugh about Hunny! lol

    @Cat-from-Sydney, a professional transporter sounds like a great idea! You travel and know what you are doing, I don't! :)

  6. all such very good tips for traveling with our kitties. I've never tried it with my two girls and hope I never have to because they don't like their carrier one bit. Hope you all have a great long weekend.

  7. Thanks so much for posting this very valuable informaiton.

  8. That sure was a lot of good information! I just hope I never have to make a trip that way. Have a great weekend!

  9. This post is so interesting with important information.My family had done huge preparation, lots of papers and so on, to set everything when I moved from Brazil with them to live here in Luxembourg.
    Now, I'm very well adapted and I also have my chip registration and wow I have now a Luxembourgian passport! :)
    *** Mommy Léia here : Luna had to change flights with us 3 times, because it's a long way from Brazil to Lux, and there is no directly flights unfortunately.Anyway, Luna is so sweet and so calm, I know she was stressed but I'm so proud of her because she faced this new life, new home and so on.
    An important thing : during the first days in the new home, she tried to run, to scape.As the Vet in Brazil give me some hints about this , we were prepared and I keep my attention on her all the time. After one week , I guess...she was more calm and more adapted.
    Hugs and purrs
    Happy weekend
    Luna and mommy Léia

  10. Great Post! I some day mommy will tell me the story about a previous cat who got losted at the airport for 2 weeks

  11. @wildcats I have never tried it either. You never know though, one day we might just have to!

    @catfromhell, Hi Nellie! Yes Kim did a superb job thank you! OMG your Mommy had a cat lost 2 weeks at the airport? OMG! That had to have been awful!

    @Leia thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story about Luna when you moved. I know that often when cats move they do try to run out, thankfully Luna didn't escape. What a good girl Luna was when she had to change flights THREE times! I don't even like doing that! Imagine a cat having to do that! That is unreal!!! Thank you for sharing this story. I am sorry I haven't been able to get around to the blogs for the past view days, I am hoping to FINALLY get around to everyone tonight!
    Have a great weekend and much love!

    @Brian so glad you enjoyed it! Kim did an amazing job! I am hoping I never have to fly with cody either but at least I have a good reference if I do! Hoping to get around to your blog tonight! Sorry I haven't been able to lately. Have a great weekend!

    @Mario THANK YOU for originally telling me that I should do a blog about air travel and cats one day. Since I didn't know all there was to know, I decided to turn to the expert, and that expert was Kim! Thank you Mario!! xoxoxo

  12. This is really great information! I hope to never need it because it kind of scares me, but I'm saving this just in case. One of the things that makes me not like the airline just for pets, Pet Airways, is that you can't fly with them. That doesn't make sense to me.

  13. This is a great post, thank you. I've been wondering what on earth we would do with the cats if we had to move back across the country.

  14. Hi Caren: Great article!

    I used to fly with dogs. This is what I would do in addition to paperwork and vet care. When they were flying, everyone in the airport; all the flight attendants, the captain, and anybody who would listen, knew that I was flying with an animal. Tip: Remember to smile with concern when you tell everyone. As I would complete my journey, I think the airport folks were glad, BUT my pets were always looked after. :)

    ~Judy =^..^=

  15. Great info, Caren! We hope we never have to travel with our kitties, but just in case we do, this is really helpful!

    We hope you and Cody have a great weekend!

  16. Lots of great information, but I don't think Chloe & Moe have any interest in flying anywhere. They're happier when their sleeping!

    Nubbin wiggles,

  17. @Julia Williams, I thought that Pet Airways wasn't operating or did they just come back? Did you see the inside of their plane? There are no seats. If I remember correctly it is set up like a kennel or something with the crates set up along the side (I haven't seen the inside in a while so I am not remembering perfectly). That is probably why owners can't fly with their pets. I don't like flying period and only do it when I have to!

    @Oskar yes Kim did a great job. Cody has no interest either, but then again he doesn't know about planes lol.

    @meowmeowmans I'm with you!!! I feel exactly the same! I hope you have a great weekend as well! I am planning on hitting the blogs (FINALLY!!) tonight!

    @Judy I think your advice is PERFECT!!! Sounds like a winning plan to me! I know one thing, I would always pay to have my pet have a seat..I don't think I could ever handle putting them in cargo like some people do.

    @Eleanor you are most welcome! Kim did a great job! Don't even think about going cross country with a cat! I would have to drive and go to "pet friendly" hotels lol

  18. Really great information here. It's not always an easy task to travel with pets but many pet bloggers are convincing me it can be done!

  19. Great tips Caren!

    Just wanted to stop by and wish you a great holiday weekend!

  20. Great information! We've never flown on a plane before...we hope we never do!!

    (Yes, we learned that if we use Google Chrome, we didn't have problems commenting on Blogger blogs. But we hope Blogger fixes the problems it is having!)

  21. ME? In a CAT CARRIER? On a PLANE?

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

  22. @Peggy I don't see me doing it but you never know when you might have to. Kim did a great job with this.

    @Spitty, MOL!!! Nooooooooooooo way! MOL!

    @The Island Cats yes! thank you! Kim did a great job. None of my kitties have ever flown either. I actually think this time Blogger might be innocent (on this last snafu!) I think it is IE!! Glad to see you here!

    @Jen thank you!! Kim did a great job!! I hope you have a great holiday weekend as well!

  23. Great post! My kitties have never flown and I don't think they'd like going on vacation with us. They prefer to a staycation and my parents visiting them everyday :)

  24. Good post and very complete. It is so important to use the right kind of carrier if you are shipping a pet via cargo. The one like in the photo isn't good as the door can come off if those little latches get turned just a little. I always used a VariKennel size 100, which is strong enough to stand on even. And also cable tied the door on all 4 corners just to be extra safe. I like these pads for the bottom of the cage and have even bought Snuggle Safes and duct taped them to the bottom of the carrier too. I never had a kitty arrive at it's destination 'messy' but always advised owners to bring extra bedding, baby wipes, ziploc bags and a large plastic garbage bag with them in case they have to clean up a kitty. I have had them arrive messy though and even had one arrive and they thought she had escaped on the way to the terminal as the door had come off her carrier (and it was a plastic door which the airline should never have accepted--but not all employees care or are knowledgeable enough).

  25. Oh, I forgot the link to the pads I like to put in carriers for travel and their website has a lot of good travel info, too:

  26. Thank you for very detailed information! If I travel with my kids, I sure will read this information again and again.
    My boss brought his puppy girl all the way from Japan to Georgia. She had no problem in the airplane and she is very happy living in the U.S. :-)

  27. Hm... I cam back to say thank you for your kind words on our blogoversary! But I know I had posted a comment here before that... I guess blogger ate it?

  28. @Yvonne I think Cody would prefer a "staycation' too!

    @Fin you are most welcome! This is the only comment that I saw. I use comment moderation so you would never see the comment immediately. I have to clear them first. I was remiss and didn't get on to Blogger yesterday!

    @Tamago you are welcome, we thank Kim! Awww that is so cute about the puppy flying all the way from Japan to!!!!

    @Teri and the cats of Curlz and Swirlz WOW!! Thank YOU for YOUR amazing tips! Your tips were extremely useful. I would never have thought of all of that and I thank you! It is so nice to meet you too!

  29. Great tips...Alex doesn't like to travel. he wont even go in a carrier. Thank goodness our vet works out of his home and only schedules one animal at a time....

  30. I flew twice on an airplane when we moved to Virginia (and then back to FL a couple years later). I went under the seat in a Sherpa carrier. My Mommeh was most worried about getting through security, because they want to take me out of the carrier, run the carrier through the x-ray machine, while she holds me and walks through the metal detector thing. She knew I would be too skerred and would maybe try to run away and if I got away, I could be lost in the airport forever! So when it was our turn to go through, she ask the TSA agent if we could have a separate screening. They took us all to a little room and took me out of my carrier. They took the carrier and then ran it through the x-ray machine, and the person actually patted me down! It was much more secure than going through the regular security in the crowded area. Afterwards, my dad sent an email to TSA thanking them for their thoughtful handling so it might make it easier for future furry travelers.

  31. I read every word the other day. It was a most excellent of the best I have seen. This is the Admiral's Mom. I am still working on my own bloggie and haveb't changed passwords.

  32. I would be scared to travel on a plane with a cat unless it was in the cabin. But how would fellow passengers feel about potential howling, hard to say.

  33. @Hilary you are quite lucky! Thankfully both Cody and Bobo did fine in their carriers. Cody doesn't like it but he is really tolerant of it. Bobo was too!

    @Mrs.Tuna I agree. As for the howling...that is an interesting thought.

    @Ramblington/Admiral, thank you yes! Kim did a superb job! Sorry I haven't been around again and not sure if I can come around tomorrow. Hopefully this week things will ease up. xoxoxo

    @Daisy thank you for sharing that wonderful story. That was truly unique and I am certain it is not the norm. You were truly blessed with that TSA. Actually I bet you were so extremely nice that that is also why they so readily accommodated you. I DO love hearing stories like this one! Thank you for sharing!

  34. Caren, this is an excellent article, very informative. Thanks!