For many pet owners, the thought of being separated from their furry companion, even for a short trip, can be distressing. If you’re a cat owner wondering if you can bring kitty along on your next flight, here are some key things you need to know about traveling by air with a feline friend.

Policies Vary By Airline

Airline policies for transporting pets vary. Some airlines do not allow cats in the cabin at all. Others permit small cats and kittens to ride with passengers if they are in an approved carrier that fits under the seat. Cats are typically not allowed out of their carriers during the flight.

In most cases, only a certain number of pets are allowed on each flight. Some airlines restrict the number to 2 or 3 animals in the cabin. There may be an additional fee per pet, often around $100 each way.

So before booking a ticket, be sure to check with the specific airline to see if they allow cats onboard and under what restrictions. This will help avoid hassles and surprises on the day of travel.

Carrier Guidelines Are Strict

Airlines have strict guidelines for pet carriers in the cabin. Cats must be transported in leak-proof, well-ventilated carriers approved for air travel. Soft-sided carriers are preferred over hard kennels, as they can fit more easily under seats.

The carrier must be big enough for your cat to stand up, turn around, and lay down comfortably, but small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. Carrier dimensions can vary by airline but are usually no more than 18 inches long by 11 inches high/wide. Be sure to take exact measurements before purchasing a cat carrier for in-cabin use.

Your Cat Must be in Good Health

Most airlines require a health certificate or letter from your veterinarian stating that your cat is fit to fly. This is usually required within 10-14 days of the flight departure date. Kittens generally have to be at least 8 weeks old to fly. Airlines may also ask for proof of vaccinations and recent exams.

Of course, do not try to fly a cat who is sick, injured, or displaying signs of distress. Air travel can be stressful for animals, so be sure yours is in excellent health before packing them in a carrier.

Prepare Your Cat for Travel

To make the flight as comfortable as possible for your cat, be sure to prep them ahead of time. Purchase your cat carrier well in advance so they can get used to it at home. Place familiar soft bedding inside along with a favorite toy.

It’s best not to feed cats within a few hours of flying to prevent motion sickness. But do not restrict food or water so long that they get dehydrated or constipated. Consult your vet on appropriate timing of meals.

You can also talk to your vet about calming aids or anti-anxiety medication to relax your cat during travel. Natural calming sprays may also help keep them comfortable.

Planning in Advance is Key

Lastly, remember that air travel policies involving pets change frequently. Do your research well in advance of any planned trips with your cat. Reconfirm the airline’s pet policies a few days before departure in case anything has been updated.

While it takes extra effort, with careful preparation you can feel confident bringing your feline friend along on your next airline adventure. Just plan ahead, pack patiently, and get ready to enjoy having your purring pal by your side, even at 30,000 feet!