It’s far more challenging to fly with a cat than with a small dog, but a little careful planning will help both of you manage the trip. Note that flying with a cat should never be a last-minute impulse, as you will need to make advance arrangements with the airline. You’ll also need to visit your veterinarian to make sure your cat is healthy enough to fly.
Visit the veterinary clinic.
Air travel can be tough on animals, especially if they have pre-existing health problems. Your cat should get medical clearance as soon as you know you have to go out of town. This will give you plenty of time to make alternate travel arrangements if need be. However, you’ll need to bring your cat back to the vet within 10 days of your departure date. Most airlines require a health certificate issued within this time period.
Contact the airline.
Book your flight as soon as possible and select a seat that is not against a bulkhead or in an exit row. Whenever possible, choose a nonstop flight. Layovers will likely increase your cat’s anxiety. As soon as you’ve booked your flight, call the airline and inform them you’ll be traveling with a cat. It’s important to do this right away, as there are restrictions on how many pets can travel on one flight.
Buy any needed supplies.
When you contact the airline, ask about their pet travel requirements. You may need to buy a carrier in a specific size to ensure it fits under the seat in front of yours. You’ll also need a cat harness and leash for the security screening line. Your cat’s carrier will have to go through the x- ray machine separately, which means you’ll hold your cat while going through the screening device. A harness and leash will prevent an escape. You should also bring pee pads, a collapsible water bowl, and your cat’s favorite treats and toys.
If you’re going out of town, you can rely on the clean, fully equipped boarding facility at Horizon Animal Hospital. For cat caretakers who must fly with their felines, our veterinarians can help you develop a cat-friendly travel plan that might include calming pheromone sprays or a mild sedative. You can reach us in Scottsdale at (480) 800-4559.