How To Take Your Cat On An Airplane If You Need To Travel With Your Furry Friend
Going on vacation is usually wonderful, but the act of traveling itself? Not so wonderful. Getting from one place to another, whether by car, boat, or train, can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. If you're planning on adding a pet to the mix, you can expect even more stress. As much as we love them, our pets can be temperamental and unpredictable, even more so when they're put in a situation that makes them feel scared. This is especially true for cats, who generally dislike being in a large, moving vehicle out of their comfort zone. Sometimes, though, you have no choice but to bring them along. If you plan on taking your cat on an airplane, you need to be prepared with some tips on how to take your cat on an airplane when traveling.
Even if your cat is normally docile, pleasant, and relaxed, taking him or her to an airport full of people they don't know, strange smells, and loud noises can be super difficult. You obviously don't want anything bad happening to your cat, so you want to make sure that you plan everything in advance to try to keep the traveling as smooth as possible. You may not be able to predict exactly how your cat is going to behave, but you can still do everything in your power to try to make the experience a little more enjoyable.
You can expect the trip to be a little extra stressful, especially if this is your first time traveling with your cat, but don't stress — you've got this!
1. Look Into All Of Your Airline's Info
If you're planning on flying with a cat (or cats) in tow, you need to know everything about the airline you're using. For starters, you obviously want to book with a pet-friendly airline, like JetBlue, American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, or United Airlines.
Once you choose an airline, call them to confirm that your cat will be allowed to travel in the cabin with you — most pet-friendly airlines will let them sit under the seat in front of you. You really don't want to pick an airline that makes them stay in the cargo/luggage hold, as that can be unsafe. You'll also need to find out all of the paperwork and health records you'll need for your cat. And try to book as early as possible to make sure there's room for your cat.
2. Buy The Right Kind Of Carrier
When doing airline research, you should also find out the exact dimensions under the airline seat so that you know what size carrier to buy. Some airlines aren't going to allow you to take the cat out of the carrier, so you have to make sure it fits under the seat.
It's also recommended to use a soft-sided carrier (this one from Amazon is a good price and option) so that it's more flexible, in case space is tight (which, let's be real, it probably will be). Make sure the carrier is comfortable, with spaces for your cat to see what's going on around them.
3. Speak With Your Vet
You have to bring your cat to see the vet before you book a flight with them. This isn't only because airlines will require certain health records, but also because you want to make sure your cat is healthy enough to endure the trip. Too much stress on a cat can cause them to have a heart attack, which is absolutely not what you want.
Make sure all of the cat's vaccinations are up to date for their safety and for the sake of what the airline needs, and get all of the paper work together.
4. Consider Booking Them Their Own Seat
If you're really worried about the idea of your cat being under the seat in front of you, you can think about buying them their own seat so they can be next to you. Before you spend the money, make sure the airline will allow it.
5. Get A Leash
If you don't already have a leash for your cat, get one for the flight. When you go through TSA screening, you'll have to hold your cat like a little baby. Your cat is going to be freaked out and scared by all of the noise and things happening around them, and they might try to squirm out of your arms and run away. To prevent that from happening, put a leash on them so you have more control. It's best to keep it on until the traveling is complete, just to be on the safe side.
6. Make Sure The Cat Is Used To The Carrier
If you have a cat, then you probably already know that most of them absolutely can't stand carriers. If you don't want your cat crying the entire flight, try to get them used to being in the carrier beforehand. Francine Hicks, the Northeast Regional Director of The International Cat Association, says, "Leave it out for the cat to go in and out of. Maybe put his/her favorite toy in the carrier. Prior to travel, line the carrier with an absorbent pad and then something nice and soft for the kitty to sleep and travel on."
7. Get A Portable Litter Box
No matter the duration of a flight, your cat is probably going to have to use the bathroom at some point. You can try to keep things clean by putting absorbent pads in the carrier. There are also portable litter boxes you can buy if you want to try that instead.