Flying With Your Cat 101

Debra Pamplin
By Debra Pamplin 
Edited by Mary M. Flory

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All airlines have different policies concerning pets. Before you book, make sure your airline of choice allows cats on board, and preferably in the cabin.

When flying with your pet, you will have two options: cabin or cargo. The temperature in cargo is usually unregulated and has the potential to become very hot or very cold. Plus, you'll be separated from your pet for the duration of the flight. Luckily, cats, unlike a lot of dogs, are generally small enough to ride with you in the cabin, if allowed.

You'll also want to watch out for pet fees. No airline will allow your pet to fly free, but some will be cheaper than others. Here are what some of the major U.S. and Canadian airlines charge for in-cabin pets. Reported costs rage from $37 - $200, but this is subject to change per route, aircraft and availability.

After booking your flight, immediately notify the airline you'll be bringing a pet aboard. Then, call to remind them 24 hours before your flight to make sure everything is in order.

Two other points to remember:

  • Choose the right cat carrier: Pick the best carrier for your cat, and don’t forget to label it with your name, address, phone number, destination and the words "LIVE ANIMAL.”

  • Visit the vet: Any traveling pet should visit the veterinarian before departing. Make sure its shots are up-to-date and that your cat is healthy enough to complete the journey. The vet will also be able to provide insight and advice for making the trip as stress-free as possible. While you're there, you'll need to obtain a health certificate. The airlines don't always check, but many technically require documentation of the pet's good health before they'll let you board.

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