Can I fly internationally with my cat? A Pet Owner’s Guide to Air Travel

Traveling with your furry family member can be both an exciting adventure and a daunting task. As pet owners, our pets’ comfort and safety are our top priorities, especially when flying to new destinations. With a sprinkle of preparation and a dash of knowledge, you can make this journey as smooth as a cat’s whisker.

Let’s dive deeper into the world of flying with pets, expanding on key points to keep the process stress-free and enjoyable.

What are the common requirements to fly a cat internationally?

  • Weight Requirements: Most international airlines have a weight limit for pets traveling in the cabin, typically including the pet and its carrier. This limit often stands at around 8 kg (18 lbs) but can vary. For pets and carriers exceeding this limit, the pet may need to travel in the cargo hold, subject to the airline’s specific regulations and additional fees.

 

  • Pet Carrier Dimensions: The dimensions of the airline-approve cat carrier in-cabin are another critical consideration. Airlines usually require that the cat carrier for plane be soft-sided to fit under the seat in front of you. The standard size for in-cabin carriers is approximately 46 cm x 28 cm x 24 cm (18″ x 12″ x 10″ ), but this can vary depending on the airline and the aircraft. The under the seat cat carrier must be large enough for your cat to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. It’s vital to check with your airline for their approved dimensions and ensure your flight approved cat carrier meets these specifications.

 

  • Number of Pets: Generally, airlines allow one pet per passenger in the cabin. The total number of pets allowed in the cabin per flight is also limited, so it’s essential to book your pet’s ticket as early as possible.

 

  • Age and Health Requirements: Pets must be of a certain age to fly, often at least 8-10 weeks old, depending on the airline and destination. A health certificate from a veterinarian is usually required for international travel, indicating that the pet is fit to fly and up-to-date on vaccinations, including rabies. This certificate typically needs to be issued within 10 days of travel.

 

  • Destination-Specific Regulations: Different countries have varying entry requirements for pets, including quarantine periods, and additional vaccination certificates. It’s crucial to research and comply with the destination country’s regulations to avoid entry denials or quarantine.

 

*Airlines have specific pet policies, and they’re as varied as breeds of cats and dogs. Some airlines are generous with their pet travel allowances, while others have stricter rules, especially regarding in-cabin travel, weight limits, and breed restrictions.

Before you book, research the airline’s pet policy to ensure it aligns with your and your pet’s needs. Remember, some airlines offer perks like free window seats for passengers with pets, so look out for those bonuses!

How do I check in for my cat at the airport?

Not all airports have pet-friendly check-in counters, so it’s wise to arrive early and confirm where you can complete your pet’s flight procedures. Allow extra check-in time at least 2 hours and no more than 4 hours before your flight.

 

Ibiyaya JetPaw expandable pet carrier airline-approved

 

During check-in, the airline staff will verify your pet’s weight, the cat carrier dimensions, and vaccination records. Afterward, while you pass through the metal detector, your pet’s carrier will be checked in an x-ray machine. It’s a straightforward process, designed to ensure everyone’s safety and compliance.

How much is it to fly a cat internationally?

Flying with pets internationally involves various costs, from booking fees to in-cabin or cargo hold charges. The price can range significantly, with in-cabin travel generally costing between $100 and $250, and cargo travel possibly exceeding $1,000 for larger pets on international flights​​​​. These fees cover not just the flight but also ensure that your pet travels in a pressurized, temperature-controlled environment. Researching and budgeting for these costs ahead of time can prevent any surprises and help you make the most economical choices.

How can I help my cat with travel anxiety?

Flying can be stressful for pets, but there are ways to reduce pet anxiety. Familiarizing your cat with the pet carrier well before your trip can make a big difference.

  • Consider placing their favorite blanket and toy inside to make it feel more like home.
  • On the day of the flight, maintain a calm demeanor to help reassure your pet.
  • Anxiety can be decreased by swaddling a cat in a Thundershirt®, just like you would with a baby.
  • You can use Feliway® pheromone wipes and spray in the carrier to assist reduce anxiety.
  • The use of a pheromone soothing collar helps reduce anxiety.
  • Some cats get anxious when traveling, thus physicians will sometimes give Buprenorphine (brand names Buprenex®, Simbadol®), gabapentin, and alprazolam to help with that anxiety.

 

Conclusion

Traveling with pets requires thorough preparation, from understanding airline policies to choosing the right carrier, and from budgeting for expenses to preparing for destination-specific requirements. By taking these steps, you can ensure a safe and comfortable journey for your beloved companion. Remember, the key to a smooth pet travel experience lies in detailed planning and a calm approach. Happy travels!

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