How To Travel And Fly With A Cat On A Plane In 2024

Written by Clair Chesterman

Flying with a feline friend might seem daunting, but with the right preparation, it’s entirely possible and can even be a smooth experience. In this guide on how to fly with a cat, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to ensure a stress-free journey for both you and your pet. From understanding the dos and don’ts to minimizing your cat’s anxiety, we cover all the essential tips and tricks.

Our goal is to help you navigate the process with ease, ensuring that your cat experiences minimal stress, or ideally, none at all, during your flight. Let’s dive into the world of air travel with cats and make your upcoming journey as comfortable as possible for your furry companion.

Can You Take Your Cat In The Cabin Or Are They Only Allowed In Cargos?

You can do either of them and you are free to choose whichever one you are most comfortable with: either take your cat to the cabin with you, if the airline allows it, or leave them in the cargo. 

What To Bring On The Airplane?

Some of the things to bring on the plane if you fly with a cat

  • Approved Cat Carrier: It is of great importance to take a very comfy carrier with you as it will surely make your cat’s life easier and more comfortable, however, it also important for you to be able to check in your cat easily whenever it is necessary without having to always lifting up a lift or opening up a door. We would highly recommend bubble backpacks which essentially are backpacks that have a detachable bubble-like attachment that serves as a window where you can see through and check how your cat is doing. 
  • Travel Bowls: It would be best if you take a travel bowl with you as they may get hungry on a longer flight. Furthermore, it would also be a better idea to have your cat already fed them right before boarding as they might lose appetite if ever they get stressed. 
  • Calming Collars: You might need to have a cat calming collar already attached to your cat as this is a very effective way to help your cat stay calm and less stressed as it has this aroma that can help make them feel relaxed. 
  • Cat Travel Wipes: This is something you would surely need for if your cat accidentally poops itself or vomits at the airport or during your flight, which we all wouldn’t really wish to happen to them, of course. I always have a pack of Wet Ones.
  • Comfort Items: Include familiar items in the carrier, such as a favorite blanket or toy, to provide comfort and reduce stress
  • Snacks and Treats: Have a few treats on hand to reassure and reward your cat.
  • Health Documentation: Carry a health certificate and vaccination records, as many airlines and destinations require them.

What Are The Airlines Requirements For Cats To Fly?

Airline requirement for flying with cats: age, breed, size


Most airlines will require that your pet to be of a certain age to be allowed to travel domestically and internationally. For example, American Airlines will only allow small cats that are at least 8 weeks old to be able to fly with you in the cabin and that is only if the combined weight of your cat and the carrier does not go over than 20 lbs or 9 kg. However, keep in mind that every airline has different policies, therefore, make sure to check your airline’s age requirement for cat travel. 


Airlines do not allow certain breeds to fly in the cabin with you. There are many airlines that have certain limitations as to which breeds cannot be in the cabin, such as brachycephalic or snub-nosed cats like the Burmese, Exotic Shorthair, Himalayan, and Persian cats. And this is because these breeds have the possibility of suffering from difficulty in breathing when in high altitudes.

Size Of Carrier

Airlines require carriers to be of a certain size as such for them to be able to fit well under the seat ahead of you. Make sure to double-check the requirements of the size of carriers with your airline. In this guide, most of the carriers are following the airline’s rules.

Which Airlines Allow Cats To Fly With You In The Cabin? 

It will vary from airline to airline and it would be best if you would do some research on your own with the airline you wish to fly with. However, let us share with you some of the airline requirements when taking your cat with you in the cabin. 

  • Allegiant Air requires that your carriers should not be over 9 x 16 x 19 inches or 22.86 x 40.64 x 48.26 cm. 
  • American Airlines requires your cat carriers to be at least under 130 cm long or 51 inches.
  • Delta Airlines require your cat carriers to be at least under 114 cm (combined LWH). 
  • JetBlue Airlines requires your carrier to not exceed 17 x 12.5 x 8.5 inches or 43 x 31 x 21 cm. However, please check out their website to know more about their other restrictions regarding this subject. 
  • Southwest Airlines requires your carriers to be at most within 18.5  x 13.5 x  8.5 inches (LWH).
  • United Airlines on the other hand lets you have your cat carrier as an addition to your carry-on bag, however, please check out more about their guidelines on this topic on their website. They require soft-sided carriers to be within 18 x 11 x 11 inches (LWH) or 46 x 28 x 28 cm.  They do however recommend soft-sided kennels that are under 40 linear inches or 102 cm, but they can allow for you to ever so slightly exceed these dimensions, as they are known to be collapsible and able to conform to the space underneath the seat, not worrying about blocking the aisle.

Note: Please keep in mind to not rely only on the information that we have provided and still double check with your airline to better know more about their requirements.  

Here’s a simple and short list of airlines that allows you to fly with your cats in the cabin:

Check With Your Vet Before Your Flight

Checking cat with vet before the flight

It is important to let your vet know about your trips or flights ahead of time for them to be able to check your cat’s health conditions. Furthermore, most airlines require you to present a valid health certificate for travel completed and signed by your veterinarian for you to be able to take your cat with you on your flight. You also have to make sure that all the relevant vaccinations are up to date and keep in mind that the airlines will also require for you to present your cat’s rabies vaccination certificate at the airport.

Weaving Through Airport Security With Your Cat

Going through airport security with a cat

The protocol at the airport is that you have to check in with your cat at the check-in counter as they, unfortunately, do not allow online check-in when traveling with any types of pets. This is because the ground attendant will not only need to see your cat physically but also the paperwork they required you to bring. I needed this when made my travel to Ecuador.

Just like us humans, they will also need to go through airport security. You can choose to go to regular TSA security, however, they will require you to take your cat out from its carrier when you are right in front of the line. This is because they require the carrier to go through the x-ray machine with your carry-on luggage while you walk through the metal detector, holding your cat safe in your hands. 

How Much Does It Cost To Fly With A Cat?

Cost of flying with cats

One important aspect to consider when planning to fly with your cat is the cost involved. Airlines typically charge a fee for traveling with pets, and these fees can vary significantly between airlines. It’s essential to research and compare the costs beforehand to avoid any surprises. These fees are usually charged per segment, so if you have connecting flights, the cost can add up quickly. Here are some base prices (updated as of Nov. 2023) for a handful of the larger airlines:

Additionally, some airlines have different charges based on whether your cat flies in the cabin with you or in the cargo hold. Remember, the investment in your cat’s travel isn’t just monetary; it’s also about ensuring their comfort and safety. Therefore, when budgeting for your trip, factor in the cost of an airline-approved carrier, any necessary health certificates, and other travel essentials for your feline friend. 

Are Cat Sedatives Necessary When Traveling With Cats On A Plane?

Givings sedatives to cat before the flight

It is not really necessary to put your cat under sedation when traveling on a plane and this in fact is backed by experts as they also do not advise on using sedatives on your cats as there can be dangers when you sedate and tranquilize cats, so be sure to take into consideration all of the other better options out there before opting for cat sedatives. 

Cat sedatives can cause your cat to become more panicky and confused, will have difficulty in balancing and standing upright, and can increase the chances of being injured as they cannot protect themselves when they need to, and more. 

Only consider cat sedatives if and only if it is necessary in such undesirable situations like aggression, increased lethargy, or vomiting which means that your cat is extremely distressed when traveling. It’s best to consult with you veterinarian if you are concerned and he/she can advise whether sedatives are the best option for you cat.

If possible, it’s best to bring lots of treats, their favorite toys and blanket, calming music if it works for them, and a calming collar

How Do Cats Do Their Business When In The Cabin?

Cat litter insider the airplane cabin

Stress and nervousness can cause cats to go to the bathroom more often. You can consider taking with you a portable, collapsible litter box to help make your cat comfortable when doing its business, but it should be small enough to be able to fit in their carrier. 

You may also want to consider getting diapers specifically made for cats or maybe some leak-proof pads for pet carriers. This is great because we can never guess when cats want to do their business and wearing diapers would help both of you to have more relief when on the plane. 

Many people travel with their cats and it is perfectly safe even though it can be slightly stressful both for you and your cat. As long as you do your job of doing your research ahead of time, preparing the required paperwork, and actually taking the time in training your cats in staying and getting used to their carrier and wearing a diaper, it will surely help relieve your stress before and especially during your flight. Have a safe flight for you and your cat!


As we conclude our comprehensive guide on how to travel and fly with a cat, it’s clear that taking your feline companion on a plane requires thoughtful preparation and a good understanding of both airline regulations and your cat’s needs. We’ve explored various aspects, from whether your cat can join you in the cabin or must travel in cargo, to navigating airport security with your pet. Additionally, understanding the cost implications, including airline fees and potential veterinary expenses, is crucial for a well-planned trip.

Remember, each airline has its specific requirements for flying with cats, so it’s vital to research and choose an airline that aligns best with your needs. Consult with your vet beforehand to ensure your cat is fit to fly and to obtain any necessary health certificates. When it comes to managing your cat’s needs during the flight, be it in the cabin or cargo, preparation is key. Pack all the essentials, such as a comfortable carrier, food, water, and a portable litter solution, to make the journey as comfortable as possible for your cat.

Ultimately, flying with your cat can be a rewarding experience, bringing you closer and opening up new horizons for both you and your pet. With the right approach, you can minimize stress and ensure a safe, comfortable journey for your cat. Whether you’re moving, vacationing, or traveling for other reasons, the memories you create with your cat by your side are sure to be cherished. Safe travels, and here’s to many happy journeys with your feline friend in tow!

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  • Clair Chesterman

    Clair is a professional cat breeder having her own cageless CFA and CCA Registered cattery & fostering company FluffyMeowPaws in Eugene, Oregon. Clair knows everything about multiple cat breeds and how to use the latest technologies to make the cat's life better.

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