Many cats enjoy jet-setting and are more than happy to take trips with their owners. On most domestic flights shorter than eight hours, cats can fly with their owners in the air cabin with an airline-approved pet carrier, on their lap and an emotional support animal, or in the cargo hold. It’s important to prepare your cat for flying, as it can be stressful the first time. We’ve put together some of the best advice for flying with a cat.
Check Your Airline’s Policies
Many airlines are changing their policies regarding air travel for pets, especially aboard the air cabin. Make sure you are up to date with any changes regarding carrier size, check-in, and other procedures. Airlines will often allow you to bring a cat as your carry-on with a pet fee, as long as it stays in the carrier throughout the flight. Cats can alternatively travel in the cargo hold in a crate or hard-shell carrier.
Do You Have the Right Paperwork?
Airports and air travel are stressful enough, not being prepared and having the correct paperwork can lead to missed or delayed flights. If your carrier is not airline-approved, you may be forced to fly your cat in the cargo hold or pay additional fees. Emotional support animals can fly with their owners in their lap, sitting on the space in front of their seat, or in a carrier in the cabin. There is no pet fee charged. You must have a valid ESA letter and any other paperwork requested from the airline and typically you need to also digitally submit this paperwork 48 hours in advance.
It’s essential that your cat is used to its carrier before flying, it’ll help make them feel more secure and less anxious. Leave the bag open for a few days and let your cat inspect it. You can feed them treats whenever they go in it for positive reinforcement. If your cat does not travel in a carrier often, take a few car rides to get them used to travel in their carrier. Adding their favourite blanket and toys helps too! If your cat is high-strung or doesn’t like new places, CBD oil can help keep them calm during your travels.
Your cat will need to get out of its carrier to go through TSA. The carrier will go through the x-ray machine while you hold your cat or walk it on a leash. Cats can become stressed in new environments, and it’s important to keep them calm and comfortable during TSA. Familiarize them with the leash (in case you need to set them down) and practice taking them in and out of the carrier (ideally in public).
Flying with your cat can be a lot of fun and stress-free with preparation. Cats are often great travel companions and do not mind being in their bag during flights. Before you fly, make sure your cat feels comfortable in their carrier, has their favourite toy and blanket, and consider giving them CBD oil to reduce stress. Have all of your paperwork ready and double-check your airline’s policies, so you don’t have any airport surprises.