Cat Travel Hacks: Your Ultimate Guide to Flying with Cats

Flying with Cats | MissyMoMo

The skies are no longer off-limits for your beloved cats. However, preparing cats for air travel with a cat carrier is no walk in the park. Flying with pets, especially cats, can be challenging. A cat carrier is a must to carry your cats comfortably. From booking pet-friendly flights to navigating airline restrictions, flying with cats introduces an entirely new ball game compared to the more common experience of traveling with dogs. Flying with cats requires finesse, and we're here to guide you through the essential steps. It's time to check that checklist and prepare your feline friend for an airborne adventure like no other!

Flying with Cats: What You Need to Know

Understanding Airline Pet Policies for Cat Travel

Flying with your beloved feline companion can be an exciting adventure, but navigating the pet policies of different airlines can be a challenge. Some airlines allow cats in the cabin, while others may require them to travel as cargo. It's important to check weight restrictions, carrier requirements, and any necessary documentation needed for your cats. With this in mind, we'll compare the pet travel policies of three major U.S. airlines: American Airlines, Delta, and United. Whether you're a seasoned cat parent or a first-time traveler with your feline friend, here's what you need to know before taking to the skies.

1. Fees for Cat Travel:

American Airlines:

  • American Airlines charges a $125 fee for each one-way itinerary where your cat accompanies you in the cabin.

  • An additional $125 charge applies to any one-way itinerary within the U.S. with a voluntary stopover of more than four hours.


  • Delta imposes a $95 fee each way for traveling with your cat.


  • United Airlines charges a $125 fee each way for traveling with your cat.

  • Layovers of more than four hours within the U.S. and more than 24 hours internationally incur an additional $125 fee.

Tip: Fees are subject to change, so check with the respective airlines for the most up-to-date information.

2. Cat Carrier Size Restrictions:

American Airlines:

  • Accepts both hard-sided and soft-sided carriers.

  • Hard-sided carriers must not exceed 19 x 13 x 9 inches (mainline flights) or 16 x 12 x 8 inches (American Eagle flights).

  • Soft-sided carriers should be no larger than 18 x 11 x 11 inches.


  • Soft-sided carriers must not exceed 18 x 11 x 11 inches.

  • The soft-sided carrier must be leak-proof and feature ventilation openings on 3 sides for domestic travel and 4 sides for international travel.


  • Permits both hard-sided and soft-sided carriers.

  • Maximum dimensions for hard-sided carriers are 17.5 x 12 x 7.5 inches.

  • Soft-sided carriers must not exceed 18 x 11 x 11 inches.

Tip: Always confirm dimensions with the airline, as they may vary depending on the aircraft.

3. Carry-On and Checked Options:

American Airlines:

  • Cats can travel in the cabin on most flights within the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and select destinations.

  • Pet carriers are considered carry-on items.


  • Allows small cats to travel in the cabin for a one-way fee.

  • Pets in carriers count as your one carry-on item.


  • Permits cats to travel in-cabin when space is available.

  • Each customer can travel with up to two cats, requiring the purchase of two seats.

Tip: Check the availability of in-cabin space and book early.

Potential Stress Factors for Cats During Flights

Cats, known for their independent nature, can find the flying experience a bit overwhelming.

First, the noise and vibrations from the aircraft's engine might unsettle your feline companions. Cats typically favor a serene and peaceful setting, and the background noises on an airplane might disturb their usual state of tranquility.

The carrier you use for travel, whether soft-sided or hard-sided, may not align with a cat's idea of comfort. The confined space can be a source of stress for cats that value their freedom and space, like their favorite sunny spot at home.

Airports, with their bustling activity, introduce a new set of stimuli for cats. The unfamiliar sounds and scents may create an environment that feels chaotic to your feline friend, who typically appreciates a serene and familiar setting.

Importance of Consulting a Vet Before Flying with Your Cat

Before taking to the skies with your cat, a vet visit is a must! Schedule in advance to discuss any concerns, get advice on sedation if needed, and ensure your feline friend is fit for the journey. Covering vaccinations, obtaining health certificates, and preparing your cat for a stress-free flight. Your vet's guidance makes all the difference in a purrfect travel experience!



Preparing Cat for Air Travel | MissyMoMo


Preparing Your Cat for Air Travel

Gradual Acclimatization to the Carrier and Travel Routine

Introduce the carrier as a safe and comfortable space by placing treats, toys, and bedding inside. Gradually increase the time your cat spends in the carrier, starting with short periods and gradually extending them.

Tips for Familiarizing Your Cat with the Sights and Sounds of an Airport

When preparing to fly with your cat, get them used to the airport environment. Introduce them to the cat carrier and take them for regular visits to the vet to help them become more comfortable with the experience.

Take your cat on short car rides to acclimate them to motion and different environments. Visit the airport with your cat in their carrier to familiarize them with the hustle and bustle of the surroundings.

Best Cat Carriers and Accessories for Flying

Features to Look for in a Suitable Airline-Approved Cat Carrier

When choosing an airline-approved cat carrier, prioritize specific features to ensure the safety and comfort of your feline friend.

  • Size and Structure: Opt for a carrier that complies with airline size regulations, allowing your cat to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. A durable and well-ventilated construction is necessary to ensure both security and proper airflow during the flight.

  • Escape-Proof Design: Look for carriers with secure locks or zippers to prevent any potential escape attempts by your cat during the journey.

  • Absorbent Bedding: Select carriers with absorbent bedding or liners to manage any accidents or spills that may occur during the flight.

  • Compliance with Airline Regulations: Ensure the carrier meets all airline requirements for in-cabin pet travel, including specific dimensions, materials, and ventilation specifications.

In addition to a suitable carrier, certain accessories can significantly enhance your cat's comfort and well-being during air travel.

  • Soft Blankets or Pads: Provide soft blankets or pads inside the carrier to offer extra cushioning and warmth for your cat.

  • Portable Water Dispenser: Consider using a portable water dispenser designed specifically for travel to ensure your cat stays hydrated throughout the journey.

  • Calming Pheromone Sprays: Utilize calming pheromone sprays or wipes designed for cats to help reduce anxiety and stress during air travel.

Options for Securing the Carrier Within the Aircraft Cabin

Securing your cat's carrier properly within the aircraft cabin is vital to ensure their safety and minimize disruptions during the flight.

  1. Under-the-Seat Placement: Most airlines require that pet carriers be placed under the seat in front of you. Choose a carrier that fits comfortably in this space while providing ample room for your cat.

  2. Seat Belt Straps or Attachment Loops: Some carriers come equipped with seat belt straps or attachment loops specifically designed for securing them in place during flights.

  3. In-Cabin Pet Carriers vs. Cargo Hold Transportation: Evaluate whether an in-cabin pet carrier is suitable based on your cat's size, weight, and temperament. For larger cats or those who may not be comfortable in-cabin, cargo hold transportation could be an alternative option.

Safety and Comfort Tips for Flying with Your Cat

Strategies to Reduce Anxiety in Cats During Flights

Flying can be stressful for cats, but there are strategies to help reduce their anxiety during flights:

  • Gradual Exposure: Introduce your cat to the carrier and the sounds of air travel gradually. This can help them acclimatize and feel less anxious when it's time to fly.

  • Familiar Scents: Place familiar items such as a blanket or toy in the carrier to provide comfort and reassurance for your cat.

Hydration and Feeding Guidelines Before Air Travel

Proper hydration and feeding are essential before flying with your cat:

  1. Hydration: Ensure your cat is well-hydrated before the flight. Offer water regularly leading up to the travel day, but avoid overfeeding to prevent accidents during the journey.

  2. Feeding: Feed your cat a few hours before the flight, allowing ample time for digestion. Avoid feeding right before departure to minimize discomfort or potential digestive issues mid-flight.

Creating a Calming Environment Within the Carrier

Creating a calming environment within the carrier is key to a stress-free air travel experience:

  • Familiarity: Use a carrier that your cat is already comfortable with, preferably one they have used at home.

  • Comfortable Bedding: Line the carrier with familiar bedding or clothing that carries your scent, providing emotional support for your cat during the journey.

By implementing these strategies, you can help alleviate your cat's anxiety while ensuring their safety and comfort during air travel.



Cat on the Plane | MissyMoMo


Arrival Procedures and Post-Flight Tips with Your Cat

Transitioning Back to Normal Routines After Landing

After landing, help your feline friend readjust to their normal routine with the following tips:

  • Gradually reintroduce regular feeding times and play sessions.

  • Provide familiar toys and bedding to create a sense of comfort for your cat.

Monitoring Your Cat's Behavior Post-Flight

Observing your cat's behavior post-flight is crucial in ensuring their well-being.

  • Look for signs of distress or discomfort such as excessive meowing or hiding.

  • Monitor eating, drinking, and litter box habits for any irregularities.

Recommendations on Seeking Veterinary Care if Necessary

If you notice any concerning behavior or symptoms post-flight, don't hesitate to reach out to your vet.

  1. Contact a vet if your cat exhibits prolonged stress or physical symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea.

  2. Ensure your cat's vaccinations are up-to-date, especially when traveling across different regions.

Now, equipped with airline policies, safety tips, and post-flight recommendations, you and your feline friend are ready to soar to new heights. Spread those wings and embark on a meownificent journey. Bon voyage!


Can I bring my cat on a plane?

Yes, you can bring your cat on a plane! Many airlines allow cats to travel in the cabin with their parents. However, it's important to check with your specific airline for their pet policies and any necessary documentation.

How can I prepare my cat for flying?

Start by making them comfortable with the carrier ahead of time. Let them spend some relaxed moments in it, and if needed, ask your vet about calming aids. Remember, skip the meal right before takeoff to keep motion sickness at bay!

What should I pack for my cat when flying?

When flying with your cat, make sure to pack their essentials such as food, water, medications (if needed), a familiar blanket or toy, and any required documents like health certificates or vaccination records. It's also a good idea to have some extra supplies in case of unexpected delays.

How can I keep my cat calm during the flight?

To keep your cat calm during the flight, consider using pheromone sprays or wipes designed to reduce stress. Try covering their carrier with a breathable cloth to create a cozy and secure environment. Providing familiar items like blankets or toys can also help comfort them.

Are there any restrictions on flying with cats?

While many airlines allow cats in the cabin, there may be specific restrictions based on the airline's policies and regulations. Some airlines have limitations on the number of pets allowed per flight or certain breeds that are not permitted. Always check with your airline beforehand.

What do I do if my cat gets anxious during the flight?

If your cat becomes anxious during the flight, remain calm and offer reassurance through soothing words or gentle petting if possible. Avoid opening the carrier during the flight as this could cause stress or escape attempts. After landing, give them some time to relax and adjust before continuing your journey.