Skip to main content

Make your cat’s plane ride easy – here’s how

It can be somewhat stressful when considering how to travel with your cat on a plane. If you do a little upfront planning, however, it can alleviate the stress or worry you may be feeling. Thousands of pets fly on airplanes every year — be it a move, vacation, or relocation with their owners. Airlines have, over time, made the process as pain-free as possible and will have specific, established guidelines listed on their websites.

For some airlines, you’ll need certain paperwork such as immunization records for your cat, so make sure to call in advance and have those ready so you aren’t scrambling right before you fly. The more you are prepared, the less you will stress, which means the less your fur-baby will too.

Related Videos
Africa Studios/Shutterstock

How to travel with a cat across the country

Our biggest advice is — if you have a long trip across the country and if the airplane allows — always opt to bring your cat in the cabin to fly with you under your seat. Flying in the cargo of an airplane can be stressful on your furry friend, and they’ll be dealing with abnormal temperatures and air pressures, which is no fun for humans, let alone our furry friends.

In general, try to take direct flights if possible to avoid loading and unloading your cat multiple times. Take an early morning or late evening flight in the summer and an afternoon flight in the winter — if they do need to travel in cargo, you can avoid temperature-related issues.

Call the airline in advance of your travel to determine the precise weight requirements and dimensions of allowed carriers so you know if you have the right one. This is not something you want to get wrong on the day of your flight. If possible, purchase the carrier at least a month before your flight so your cat can become familiar with it. This will help lessen the stress your cat may be feeling on the day of travel.

David Prahl/Shutterstock

Will medication ease a cat’s stress level?

Most cats will do just fine traveling, especially if they are in the cabin with you and you can regularly check on them. Some cats, however, can experience tremendous stress when they fly. Obviously, if it’s your first time, you won’t know, but you do know your cat. If they frighten easily at home or when there are loud noises, or if they’re jumpy around people they don’t know, you may want to consult your veterinarian about your options.

In general, it’s best to feed your cat no less than six hours before the flight to avoid sickness. Depending on airline rules, you may be able to keep a small water bowl inside the carrier that you can fill once you board so your cat stays comfortable and hydrated during the flight.

Traveling with a cat can be a lot of stress, even if you know having them with you at the end of your journey will be well worth it. Plan ahead, do your research, and keep this guide handy so the next time you and your feline companion are ready to jet off to a new destination, it’s a low-stress undertaking.

Editors' Recommendations

Are urinary tract infections in cats possible? What cat parents should know about this condition
What to know about prevention and treatment of UTIs in cats
Gray cat in a cat bed

UTIs are a common and pesky condition in humans. It’s short for urinary tract infection. A UTI is an infection of a part of the urinary system, like the bladder, kidneys, or urethra, as the name implies. UTIs can involve painful burning sensations when peeing. They affect about 10 out of 25 women and 3 out of 25 men at least once, according to the Urology Care Foundation.

Cat parents may wonder: What is the rate of urinary tract infections in cats? Unfortunately, it’s not zero. Cats can get UTIs. The good news is that cat health experts don’t commonly see the issue when treating felines. However, it’s still good to think about the urinary tract when approaching your cat’s health.

Read more
Bengal cats: What to know about these quirky descendants of Asian leopards
Bengal cat breed facts that may surprise you
A Bengal cat lies on a white floor and bathes their forelimb

With their striking rosette coats and low-maintenance grooming needs, Bengal cats are already one of the most desired breeds in the world. Once known as Safari cats, the breed went through a name change in the 1970s to reflect its fascinating heritage. But what is living like a Bengal cat actually like? Are they as feisty as their Asian leopard ancestors?
We'll explore the Bengal cat's personality in depth, covering everything from a brief look into their history, the most common Bengal personality traits, and any breed-specific requirements that may hinder your quest to adopt one of these lovely cats.

Bengal cat history
While some cat breeds, such as the Egyptian Mau, can trace their lineage as far back as 10,000 B.C.E., the Bengal cat is a relative newcomer on the scene. The Bengal cat was first bred deliberately in California in the 1980s, after cat breeder Jean Mill crossed a domestic shorthair (a black tomcat) with an Asian leopard cat. Asian leopard cats, a breed of dainty wildcats hailing from Southeast Asia, are also known as Felis bengalensis -- hence the aforementioned name change from Safari cat to "Bengal cat," -- a nod to this hybrid breed's wild ancestor.
However, there may be another reason for the switch that led to the newly dubbed Bengal cat. When the breed's name was changed in 1974, the man responsible was named William "Bill" Engler -- B. Engler. Some believe he drew inspiration from his own name.

Read more
Can cats suffer from mental health conditions the way dogs can?
What you need to know about your cat's mental health
A blue-eyed white cat sprawls out on top of a rug with a forlorn expression

As it turns out, man's best friend has quite a lot in common with humans. Just like us, dogs can suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year." With such staggering numbers, it's easy to understand why the self-help industry is booming. But what about cats? Are our feline family members similarly affected by mental health issues?
While dogs are typically more expressive regarding their moods, cats can be more difficult to read. A dog suffering from depression may refuse to play with his favorite toy, but what behaviors can you expect from your feline friend? Do cats suffer from depression and anxiety the way some dogs do? We'll take a deep dive into the world of cat mental health, so we can answer the question once and for all.

Can cats have mental illnesses?
In her 2014 book "Animal Madness," Dr. Laurel Braitman writes, "There is not a branch of veterinary science, ethology (the science of animal behavior), neuroscience, or wildlife ecology dedicated to investigating whether animals can be mentally ill." While we can't read our cat's mind, we can use their typical behavior to gauge sudden personality changes that might ring a few alarm bells.
Two commonly diagnosed mental issues in cats are obsessive-compulsive disorder -- often abbreviated as OCD -- and cat anxiety. In cases of OCD, you may notice your cat excessively grooming the same location on her body, which can lead to redness, swelling, skin irritation, and even hair loss. However, excessive grooming is also a symptom of anxiety, though anxiety is often accompanied by additional concerning behaviors, such as decreased appetite, incessant yowling, and even drooling.
Details are scant regarding exactly how many cats suffer from mental health issues, but the fact remains that your frisky feline can be affected by OCD, anxiety, or depression. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that cats can even have autism.

Read more