Like people, cats can quickly become part of a family unit. This explains why so many people are bringing their furry friends on their travels with them. However, this is a change to your cat’s usual routine, which can make them feel extremely anxious and stressed if not handled sensitively.  To avoid this, you must consider how you’re going to prepare your cat for air travel. It’s recommended that you start this process a month—or more—before you plan to travel with them.

Buy an airline-approved cat carrier
One of the first things to do when bringing your cat on a flight is to call the airline you’re planning to travel with to check their carrier requirements. Most require that the carrier is made of durable fabric, is well ventilated and has a zipped-up top and side door. These are all things worth double checking when buying a cat carrier.

Get your cat comfortable with using the cat carrier
It’s incredibly important that your cat doesn’t view their carrier as a negative thing. You can improve their relationship in the month leading up to the flight by encouraging them to spend more time in the carrier, enticing them with blankets and their favorite toys. You might also want to feed them inside their cat carrier, or spray cat pheromones to make the environment feel more familiar to them. This helps with keeping their routine as similar as possible throughout the flight.

Take them on car rides to prepare them for the flight
Taking your cats with you on car rides—small ones at first, and then slowly increasing them to longer ones—can be extremely beneficial as it helps prepare them for the movement of the flight. You should reward the cat with treats if they can behave well without crying or scratching at their carrier. This might take a few attempts before they are comfortable to lie still in the carrier, at which point, they are ready for the journey.

Get them used to the noise in airports
Airplanes and airports are extremely loud places for humans, let alone cats, who can hear 4-5 times farther in distance than humans can. To get  your cat acclimatized to the airport environment, take them to the airport and slowly get them used to the loud environment so that they are more prepared on the day your flight departs. You can do this by taking them inside the airport, near the flight check-in area, giving the cat rewards for their good behavior. It might take a few visits—if possible—for your cat to become completely used to the noise.

Check the tags on your cat’s collar
If you want to bring your cat on your air travels with you, they should have three tags on their collar. The first should contain their ID information and your contact information. The second tag, contains their rabies vaccination status and the third is your cat’s license. You should make sure that this is in order ten days before you travel.

Keep your normal routine
Cats are notoriously bad at adapting to change, so try and keep your routine as familiar as possible on the day of the flight. Ideally, this would include feeding your cat for the last time four or six hours before your flight, as this will give them the greatest chance of emptying their bowels, avoiding accidents in the carrier on the plane. By keeping things as normal as possible, your cat should feel comfortable enough to empty her bladder and bowels at a sensible time, before they are placed in the carrier. 

Once again, begin preparation a month or more ahead of time, so that your cat can smoothly transition into being a travel ready kitty. I sincerely hope that these tips will help you prepare for your journey. Have a safe trip and thanks for reading.