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How To Travel With Your Cat: Flying With Your Cat

January 2nd is National Pet Travel Safety Day, a great day to think about our pets, how we travel with them and how to keep them safe and calm during travel.

How To Travel With Your Cat

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Traveling with your cat, especially flying with your cat, can seem like a daunting task. Traveling and flying with your cat is sometimes necessary, like in a cross-country move or a long vacation. Here is everything you need to know about flying with your cat.

Can My Cat Come On The Plane?

Yes, your cat can come on the plane with you, but you will need to check pet policies with individual airlines. Most airlines do allow smaller pets, such as cats, to travel in cabin. In order for your cat to fly in cabin, your cat has to be well-behaved and fit comfortably in an airline approved pet carrier. Your cat will need to remain in his carrier or crate for the duration of the flight.

Is My Cat Safe Below Cabin While Flying?

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

If you have a significantly large cat, several airlines, including American and Delta, do offer a pet check option, which will put your cat in a below-cabin area that is temperature controlled and pressurized. 

While most cats do not experience physical harm flying in the below-cabin area, flying below-cabin can be incredibly stressful for your cat. If you want to fly with your cat, many experts advocate only checking your pet if absolutely necessary.

How Much Does It Cost For My Cat To Fly?

The cost of how much your cat will cost to fly depends on the airline. There is no airline without pet fees, and most of them range between $95-$200.

What Are The Best Cat-Friendly Airlines?

Delta is often noted as one of the favorites of cat owners who are traveling with their cats, due to their rarely-cancelled flights and overall customer satisfaction. If you are looking to save a bit of money while traveling with your cat in-cabin, Southwest Airlines has the cheapest in-cabin pet fee at $95 each way.  

What Are The Safest Airlines For Traveling With Your Cat?

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)
(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

It is difficult to determine what the “safest” airline for pets is. The U.S. department of Transportation (DOT) mandates that airlines report animal deaths, loss, and injury on a monthly basis, but looking at those numbers alone is not enough. These numbers are available to the public here. 

The numbers for pets lost or killed while traveling below-cabin does not reflect the percentage of pets. So yes, technically Delta has the most animal deaths (82) in 13 years, but they also fly a much higher overall amount of pets than other airlines, so those figures are relative.

Also, the DOT relies on airlines to accurately report the number of injuries or deaths of animals while traveling below-cabin, but it does not take time to fact-check or further investigate possible inaccuracies.

Flying With Your Cat Do’s And Don’ts


  • Make sure to have all of your cat’s most recent vaccine records with you while you travel.
  • Let your cat have plenty of time to stretch and run around before a flight.
  • Talk to your veterinarian pre-flight to see if she recommends any stress-relieving tips or medications for your cat to fly.
  • Make sure your cat has recently used the litterbox before flight.
  • You cat feels comfortable and safe in his carrier. Leave it out for a couple of weeks pre-flight so they can explore and make it their own.
  • Bring a portable water and food bowl for your cat on the plane.
  • All of your airline research. Make sure you have any documentation and specific sized carriers that the airline you are flying with your cat requires.


  • Give your cat Benadryl or any other medication or sedative without consulting your veterinarian first. The American Veterinary Association recommends NOT sedating any pets while traveling, especially while flying.
  • Squeeze your cat into a tiny carrier. Make sure the carrier is large enough so that your cat can turn completely around and sit up slightly if necessary.
  • Wait until the last minute to book your cat’s in-cabin ticket. Airlines limit how many in-cabin pets can be on each flight.

Are you flying with your cat in the near future? Have you traveled with your cat on an airplane before? Let us know your experiences and tips in the comments.

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