Can You Take Your Kitten on a Plane?
Most pet owners don't like the idea of leaving their pets behind when they travel (Click here to see my best cat carrier for plain travel & price on Amazon). Traveling with your kitten on a commercial flight can sometimes feel or seem like a straightforward idea, however, it's unfortunately far from it.
The logistics involved can literally be a nightmare. Not only may you face several documentation requirements accompanied by a host of other things, you may have to part with some additional costs. And all these things depend on the airline you've chosen to travel with.
With sufficient preparation and research, both you and your young feline companion can fly safely as well as comfortably.
The rules and regulations are usually similar to the ones that dog owners have to abide by, but as with dogs, it's highly advised you consult your vet and airline prior to your scheduled travel date.
Choose what is most comfortable and safe for your kitten when making air travel decisions, especially if it's an international flight.
The reality is that your cat will almost always rather be left at home rather than travel with you by air if they had to choose, just like dogs and many other pet animals, but, if you feel like you must travel with your kitten, then we have a few tips for a low stress and safe trip. So, traveling with a kitten on a plane? Heres how.
Are There Age Restrictions For Kittens On a Plane?
Usually, most, if not all, airlines have their own individual pet policies when it comes to people flying with their pets. These pet policies are normally rules, regulations and requirements that pet owners must meet and abide by if they want their pet animals to be allowed to fly with them.
Most of these airlines have different age restrictions so it really depends on what airline you're considering. However, many of them will rarely allow newborn kittens to fly with them. A kitten that has just been born might give the airline some complications their not willing to handle. It's best you check with the airline you've chosen on what their age restrictions are when it comes to cats and kittens.
Can You Take Your Kitten in the Cabin?
If the cat carrier you have can easily and comfortably fit right under the seat just in front of yours, then typically your kitten can be allowed to travel with you in the cabin.
That generally means pets weighing in at about twenty pounds and not more. Most, or rather all, kittens are normally well under that weight which means that kittens can definitely be allowed to travel with you in the cabin.
Under-seat space dimensions vary from airplane to airplane. Each of them has their own individual space dimensions. This will often limit the total number of pets allowed to fly on that particular airplane.
This is another reason why you should always check and consult your airline first before making any concrete travel decisions. Most airlines rarely allow their customers to buy an extra seat for their pets.
Traveling with your kitten this way is usually way less expensive than putting it in the plane's belly. This is because your kitten will essentially act as carry-on luggage.
What About the Cargo Hold Area?
Another option available to you is letting your kitten fly as cargo. This entails placing them in a temperature-controlled, pressurised cargo compartment.
Your kitten is allowed to travel this way either as unaccompanied shipping cargo or as checked luggage alongside yourself in the same aircraft.
However, you may have to meet some shipping timeline requirements if you're considering letting your kitten travel as unaccompanied cargo, so you must ensure you check and consult with the particular airline you've chosen to fly with for further details.
Some animal rights groups, such as the Humane Society located in the United States, are of the opinion that you should only fly with your kitten or cat in the cabin and the unaccompanied cargo option should be avoided whenever it can. Besides, some airlines won't even allow you to transport your kitten as unaccompanied cargo.
Should You Visit the Vet Before Travel?
It is essential to take your kitten to the vet before you travel. Traveling, especially by air, is usually really difficult for cats, let alone kittens.
You'll want to make sure that your kitten is healthy enough to endure traveling by air. Your vet will examine your kitten and make sure that all its vaccinations are up to date.
If your kitten so happens to be suffering from a particular illness, ask your vet how you can properly manage or treat it, if possible, prior to your scheduled flight.
Most airlines will require that your kitten has a valid health certificate, certifying that it has all the required vaccines and that your kitten is fit and healthy enough to travel by air.
Only your vet can complete and provide you with this health certificate. Some, if not all, airlines usually have certain time restrictions when it comes to health certificate completion.
Most of them typically require you to complete it within around ten days prior to your flight, however, it's always best to confirm the specific time restrictions with the airline you've chosen to use.
Also, if your kitten happens to be on any particular medication for whatever reason, you'll need to consult your vet on how you can medicate your kitten during the day of travel.
Should You Consider Sedating Your Kitten During the Flight?
Cat owners sometimes wrongly assume that sedating their cat, or in this case kitten, will make its air travel experience less stressful.
However, sedating your kitten when flying is not only dangerous but, it can prove to be very detrimental to the safety of your young feline.
Sedatives can negatively affect your kitten's regular breathing as well as several other bodily responses. Also, pets, kittens included, react differently to certain medications when traveling by air.
In fact, very many airlines will not allow you to fly with a sedated pet because over sedation during air travels can cause the death of your pet animal.
The best way to effectively ease the anxiety you expect your kitten to have is by properly crate-training it. Make sure you let your kitten get accustomed to its crate before flying with it.
The more comfortable it is when inside its cat carrier, the less anxious its likely to be during the flight. It will also probably be less aggressive when at the airport.
Another great trick you can use to make your kitten less anxious is placing a blanket or T-shirt you own that smells like you so that you can remind it of home.
The Car Ride With Your Kitten to the Airport
Your kitten should always remain in its cat carrier, even on the car ride to the airport. Like we mentioned earlier, most cats generally don't like traveling, and it really doesn't matter whether it's by air or by road.
So, for your safety as well as theirs, ensure you keep it in its cat crate at all times. In fact, it should be in its carrier until you reach your final destination.
It is also very important you restrain the cat carrier from bouncing around in your car so as to avoid potentially injuring your kitten. You can do this by wrapping your car seat belt around the kitten carrier's front side.
You should also ensure that the front seats are left for humans. Your kitten should be restricted to your car's back seat.
This is done to avoid injury to your kitten when airbags are deployed in the event of an accident. The pressure from airbag deployment can injure your kitten even though it may be in its carrier.
And, hopefully, by now this goes without saying but never ever allow your cat to roam free in the car while your driving. Again we say, ensure they are in their carriers at all times. We just can't stress this enough.
Studying The Rules of Your Destination Country
International flights with your kitten will usually require a lot more planning and can be way more complex than regional flights usually are. It's definitely a good idea to study the rules of your destination country before making any final travel arrangements.
Some airlines will not allow you to fly with your kitten, or any pet animal in general, on international flights.
If the airline you're considering does allow you to travel with your kitten internationally, they'll most likely want a completed international health certificate first before they can allow your kitten on the plane.
Furthermore, you will also have to have complied with your destination country's requirements. Some countries don't allow certain types of pet animals so you'll need to know whether your kitten lies in that category.
What Is The Best Cat Carrier For My Cat on Our Travels?
There's a lot you need to consider when choosing the right carrier bag or crate for your kitten. For starters, you need consider a soft or hard-sided carrier (Click here to see why I rated this best), also the carrier you select needs to be one that has well-secured latches that can't be pried open by your kitten while inside.
Metal fasteners are usually much stronger than the plastic ones. Strong fasteners are even more important if your kitten happens to be traveling in the cargo hold area of the plane.
The kitten travel carrier you select must also be one that offers sufficient ventilation. This is something very important that most cat owners tend to overlook when buying a carrier.
The only way you can ensure your kitten has adequate airflow is if the cat carrier ventilation is of a high standard.
It goes without saying but hard sided kitten carriers manufactured using plastic won't only effectively sustain your pet's chewing and scratching, they are usually very durable as well.
They are also much easier to clean and maintain that those other soft-sided kitten carriers made from fabric available on the market.
Another thing is that some airlines will require you to have a hard-sided carrier if you want to travel with your kitten, especially if it's going to be in the cargo hold area of the plane.
However, hard-sided kitten carriers may not be as comfortable as the soft-sided counterparts.
If you are on a long car journey, or need something flexible, its worth considering a soft cat crate (Click here to see why I think these 3 are best.
What Type of Food and Drink Should You Carry For Your Kitten?
A cat is usually a creature of habit. They won't like it when they have to deviate from their regular feeding routine. However, the general rule is that you feed your cat about four hours before the flight and nothing more until you reach your final destination.
But, you can carry its favourite snacks and canned foods in case of any emergencies, especially if it's a kitten your traveling with. As the flight time approaches avoid food but don't restrict it from drinking water.
If your traveling with your kitten by air, it could take several hours or even in some case one or two days before your kitten gets a bite to eat after the flight.
If you feed it a few hours prior to your flight, you'll allow your cat or kitten some time to partially digest its food thus reducing the risk of it vomiting and experiencing nausea en route.
Your kitten will probably not be used to flying just yet so it'll probably get airsick if you feed it to close to or during the flight. Use your car to try teaching it how to deal with motion sickness days or even weeks, if possible, before the flight.
If you really feel like you have to feed your kitten during the flight, then we recommend you carry its favourite cat treats to calm its nerves. However, it really all depends on you, how you feel and how you want to maintain and take care of your kitten.
If you're on one of those long flights, feeding it its favourite canned food or whatever food it usually enjoys the most when at home is okay. But water is something it should have access to all the time. Clean, fresh water will do it just fine, no need to get too fancy with that.
If your kitten is on any medication or you've opted, or the vet has suggested, you sedate it during flight, make sure you follow, to the letter, all the food-relevant directives you've been provided with and exclude any other irrelevant advice.
In fact, your vet's recommendations are the only things you should abide by. After you've reached your final destination, ensure your kitten has access to a clean litter-box as well as fresh food and water.
Should You Trim Your Kittens Nails?
You should always trim your cat or kitten's nails before traveling no matter the type of travel it'll be, be it air, road or sea.
Allowing your kitten to travel with long nails is giving it the opportunity to scratch up the carrier's interior during the flight.
And if your kitten is to get really anxious it could cause a whole of damage to its kitten carrier.
If it's going to be traveling in the cargo hold area it could potentially get its nails stuck in the bars of the kitten carrier which could ultimately lead to serious injury.
If you don't think you have the ability to trim its nails by yourself, you can have your vet do it.
The general rule is that the nails of a cat should be trimmed at least once every ten days or at most after every two weeks. Kittens are no exception.
So time the trimming of its nails perfectly so that they stay short up until your scheduled trip. If the journey is going to be one of those very long flights, fly with some nail clippers so you can trim them during the flight.
Going Through the Airport Security
When going through the security screening at the airport, you best believe that your kitten's carrier will have to be checked using x-ray machines.
Your kitten itself will probably have to be carried by you as you go through the metal detectors. You might want to consider checking out the TSA Pre-check.
It gives you access to lines that are moving faster as well as the added benefit of not having to remove your light jackets and shoes.
Again, don't forget that the pet policies' details and requirements vary from airline to airline.
It's always best to check and consult with your airline directly when planning your trip so as to make sure that both you and your kitten arrive at your final destination safely without too many complications.
You can try practicing the airport screening procedure at home with your kitten so as to have a smooth transition into the plane when you get to the actual airport.
Your kitten will most likely be required to leave its cat carrier, as we mentioned earlier so that it can be checked and inspected.
While at home learn how to secure your kitten with its harness or leash and let it feel comfortable and accustomed to wearing it so that it doesn't give you any problems while at the airport.
This is very essential because even if your kitten is the mellowest of them all, it'll probably get a little startled by all the airport activity. Ensuring it's properly accustomed to its harness or leash will help make things a little better.
How to Comfort Your Kitten While on the Plane
Keeping your kitten calm during flight isn't too difficult if you know what you're doing. Whether it will be traveling in the plane's belly in the cargo hold area or whether it is going to be with you in the plane's cabin, you should practice some non-verbal and verbal communication techniques so as to keep it calm before as well as during the flight, if possible.
One example is, staring into its eyes while it's in the carrier and slowly blinking your eyes until it responds by blinking back. This a very popular and common trick of how to calm your kitten or cat down during air travel.
Cats and kittens alike usually take this form of communication as a positive sign that everything will be alright. In addition to that, you can have conversations and reassuring talks before and/or during the flight.
Don't worry about looking a little bit crazy, remember, it's all because of the love you have for your young feline companion.
Should You Pack Food For The Kitten to Travel With?
A cat, or kitten in this particular situation, should generally not be fed during flights. This is because the food might cause your kitten to be more nauseous than it already may be.
Eating during the flight might also cause your cat to vomit as well as other little accidents while it's inside its kitten carrier.
However, there is always that possibility of flights getting delayed for hours and hours on end and that flight could be potentially yours, so if you feel like you must bring along food with you on the plane, just in case, then carry its favourite canned dry foods.
Giving your kitten a few bites of cat food to avoid keeping it from getting very hungry might not be such a bad idea. If your kitten is traveling by way of the cargo hold area and the flight is going to be very long one, then attach its bag of dry food to its carrier alongside a few short feeding instructions.
Keep Your Regular Routine
On the travel day try as much as you can to keep a calm and regular routine, as hard as that may be sometimes.
A cat almost always never responds well to drastic changes. It usually affects its whole mentality in a negative way. T
he sudden changes will most likely affect your cat's whole mood increasing its stress levels and anxiety and eventually causing it to completely act out, for example, relieving itself outside of the litter box.
For kittens, all this becomes ten times worse because it still doesn't know very many things. Keep your preparations calm and if possible try and maintain its regular feeding schedule so it uses the litter box as it normally would.
This ensures that once you place it in its carrier, it won't want to defecate again until you guys have reached your final destinations. Keeping things as normal and as calm as you can will help it empty its bowels and bladder before you place it in the kitten carrier.
Convince Your Kitten to Spend Time in its Carrier
Your kitten will probably need at least one whole month to properly be prepared to travel by air. During this time, a lot of what you should be doing is inviting your kitten to get accustomed to spending time inside its kitten carrier.
Entice it by making the carrier look inviting by placing some of its favourite comforts inside the carrier. This could include some of the toys it likes to play with the most or its comfortable beddings.
In the locations where your kitten likes to frequent, at all times, always leave the kitten carrier open. The place it will most likely be frequenting at this stage is its bed and maybe its scratching post.
This allows it the opportunity to explore the carrier at its leisure as well as without having the fear that you'll close the door behind it once it gets inside. Even feeding it while it's inside will sometimes help give your kitten a positive association with the carrier.
After your kitten has gotten a bit accustomed to being inside the carrier, and this is obviously after you've given it sufficient exploration time, you can start practicing closing the door behind it.
In the beginning, start by closing it for just a few seconds. Immediately after opening it give it a treat. Repeat this over and over again each time slowly increasing the duration it takes you to open and give it the treat.
Label Your Kitten Carrier
It's very important to make labels for your kitten's carrier, especially if it's going to be traveling by way of the cargo hold area.
The labels you place on the carrier should contain all your contact information as well as the contact information you'll be using at your final destination.
For instance, if you're going to be using hotel accommodation, on the label record the name of the hotel, their phone number and address.
Place the labels on the outside as well as the inside of the kitten carrier. Do this so that there are spares in the event the outside labels come off or get lost during the course of the journey.
Additionally, in the scenario whereby your kitten happens to be traveling by way of the cargo hold area, make some large sized 'Live Animal' labels for its safety and place them strategically on the outside.
Do this a few days before the travel day so that you can avoid having a hectic day and interfering with the calmness of the kitten.
Opening the Carrier During Flight
You can open the kitten carrier during some flights, however, this all generally depends on the pet policies the airline you happen to be using has.
Although, normally most cat owners are advised not to open their carriers until they've reached their final destinations. What you're usually meant to do is as soon as you've arrived your final destination, open the kitten carrier and examine your kitten to find out whether everything is okay.
If something doesn't feel right with it, find a way to take him to the nearest vet as soon as possible. Ensure you get the vet you've gone to see to write down the exam results, including the time and date.
This you will use as evidence in case you choose to file complaints against the airlines on how they potentially mistreated your kitten, especially in the situation it happened to travel by cargo hold.
Check Which Type of Carrier is Permitted in the Cabin
For starters, always try to find a way whereby you're traveling together with your kitten in the cabin. It's usually much safer than letting it travel in the plane's belly as cargo.
Most airlines will allow either soft-sided kitten carriers or their hard-sided counterparts. In this particular scenario, the soft-sided carriers come out on top by being the better option because they're usually much easier to slide under the seat in front of you, which is normally the requirement in most airlines.
The downside is that only some particular brands are normally permitted by certain airlines. You'll have to check with your airline if the one you're considering will be allowed by them.
Prepare Your Kitten for Loud Sounds
Both the airport as well as the plane itself can sometimes be extremely noisy. In fact, most often than not, they both always are. If and when your kitten gets comfortable with the car rides, take it to the airport and while it's inside its kitten carrier, sit with it outside for a while.
The commotion and loud noises may be petrifying at first, however, a few more trips like these will get it used to the loud sounds and noises. You can go further and try taking it if you can, all the way inside the airport until right next to the flight check-in regions.
After every successful trip, reward your kitten for its good behaviour by giving it some treats. All this will help get your kitten get used to what can be a potentially horrifying experience for it.
Traveling with your kitten (Click here to see how to wean a stubborn kitten) on an airplane doesn't have to be as cumbersome and as difficult as some may make you think it is, especially if you're well prepared and you know exactly what you're doing.
And that's basically why we're here. To offer you as much information on such matters to make traveling with your pet easy for you. Hopefully, after reading this, you won't have to leave your kitten at home next time you're traveling by air. And remember, if you liked what we had to say, sharing is caring.