Traveling by Plane with Your Cat


If you are traveling by airplane and have the want or necessity to make the journey with your pet, there are a few rules and regulations that you, your cat and your cat carrier will have to meet, in order for your pet to be allowed in the flight.

The first thing you will have to do is to make early arrangements for your cat, by making contact with the reservations department of your airline; this is because only a limited number of animals are allowed in the cabin. This number may change depending on the airline, for example, American Airlines accepts up to seven animals in the cabin per flight.

Another issue that you must address is that some airlines will not accept some breeds of cats into their planes; American Airlines does not accept Burmese, Persian, Himalayan or Exotic Shorthair cats. Some other uniqueness of your feline pet are taken into account for its acceptance in the flight: the cat must be between 8 and 10 weeks old depending on the airline before it can be allowed to fly; most companies will also require a health certificate for your cat, in order for it to be accepted in the flight.

Your cat carrier will also have to fulfill certain regulations, some general for all companies and some specific for each specific airline. Of course, your first concern is the comfort of your friend, so the carrier must be big enough for the cat to be able to stretch, lay down, be seated or standing up, and be comfortable the whole trip; the carrier must also be big enough to contain singular water and food bowls that must be securely attached and that can be refilled from the outside, without any possibility of your cat escaping during the refill process; the carrier must have a small pouch that can holds a 24 hour store of food, in case there are delays.

The transporter also must have sufficient ventilation for your pet to have a comfortable journey; you should purchase a kennel with ventilation on two of the sides and the door to avoid problems. The kennel must be made of wood, metal, plastic, or another leak proof material. The weight allowed for the pet plus container must not exceed a limited quantity, which is around 8 kilograms if the pet travels in the cabin or 45 if the cat travels as checked baggage. The allowed size of the kennel may change between airlines; American Airlines permits 19" long x 13" wide x 9" high and other companies use similar magnitudes.

You can travel with more than one cat just one carrier, being the range of animals permitted between 2 or 3, but no more in a single kennel. Nevertheless, the cats must be comfortable and secure, so it is not so important if there are various cats in the carrier, as long as they travel in good conditions, and have enough food, water, space and ventilation for all of them. Another thing you must know is that no airline permits animals to leave the carrier during the flight.

Finally, always remember to call the airline you will be traveling with to be sure that you are complying with all the rules and regulations, which may be different for each company. Keep in mind that making the arrangements for your pet's travel in advance will help you avoid last time problems and make your journey more comfortable, knowing that your pet is also traveling in the best possible manner.

About the Author: Esteban Bernechea. Doctorate student at Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, Barcelona, Spain.
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Esteban Bernechea