Traveling by plane with your cat: what organization?


You are going to take a plane and your cat must accompany you. Obviously, this cannot be improvised. There are a lot of things to anticipate and plan to make sure that your companion, like you, will have the best of trips. So, traveling by plane with your cat: what organization?

Legal obligations

Depending on whether you travel to France or abroad, to the European Union or outside, the regulations will not be the same. Therefore, it is always advisable to find out about the specific regulations for each destination, long before the trip, to make sure you have enough time to get in good standing.

Warning : regulatory controls at airports are strict. You will not be able to board if your cat is not in good standing.

Travel in France

If you are traveling to France with your cat, the regulations are quite flexible, you will simply need:

  • That it be identified by means of an electronic chip, or a legible tattoo, if it was made before July 3, 2011;
  • That he has an up-to-date health record, established by a veterinarian.

Rabies vaccination is compulsory if you are traveling from or to the French departments of Guyana or Mayotte.

Trick : if you need to vaccinate your cat against rabies, allow at least one month. In fact, during the first injection, the vaccine is only deemed to be valid after a period of 21 days.

Travel to the European Union

If your trip is to one of the member countries of the European Union, your cat must:

  • Be identified by means of an electronic chip, or a legible tattoo, if it was made before July 3, 2011;
  • Be up to date with your rabies vaccination, at least 21 days after the primary vaccination is required;
  • Hold a valid European pet passport which mentions its identification, description, vaccinations and treatments and your contact details. It must be certified by a veterinarian.
  • Be up to date with your rabies vaccination (at least 21 days after the primary vaccination).
  • Report your cat’s presence ;
  • Find out about the specific conditions of its transport;
  • Ask for the price for your cat, it can vary from 50 to 300 euros;
  • Confirm their presence72 hours before departure, some companies limit the number of animals allowed on a flight.

Since 1er January 2021, to travel to the UK, your cat will need to:

  • Have more than 15 weeks;
  • Be identified by means of an electronic chip, or a legible tattoo, if it was made before July 3, 2011;

Some EU countries, despite regulatory standardization, may have other rules, applicable for entry or movement within the country. It is therefore also necessary to worry about it, before the trip.

Travel outside the European Union

The regulations for traveling with pets are not uniform. Depending on your destination, you will need to provide an international health certificate and / or an anti-rabies titration. A quarantine may be required, as well as a physical examination (at your expense), and some countries may even completely prohibit your cat from entering their territory.

Before your trip, it is therefore essential to inquire at the embassy your country of destination, but also, when this is the case, with the embassies of transit countries.

In addition, depending on the country you have been to, additional formalities may be required, when you return to France (for example, a rabies titration).

As of July 14, 2021, additional restrictions have been put in place for travel to the United States.

Take all the useful information beforehand!

Warning : non-compliance with legal obligations, in addition to financial penalties, can range from repatriation at your expense, to euthanasia of your cat (health problem)!

Prepare for the plane trip

As a general rule, cats weighing less than 4-5 kg ​​are accepted on planes, but transport conditions may vary from company to company.

The airline company

Travel in the cabin, in the hold, in freight, each company determines its own rules and may require specific treatments or additional vaccines. They can also have different transport conditions, depending on the breed of your cat, and in particular for brachycephalic cats (squashed face).

A transport cage, to regulatory standards, is most often required for travel in the hold and some companies require the use of special bags, for cabin travel. These accessories must meet the IATA standards (International Air Transport Association).

Also note that air transport regulations prohibits the administration of tranquilizers to your cat for the trip. Atmospheric pressure in flight can cause unwanted reactions. The company can, the same day, refuse boarding if it considers that you have given it.

With the airline, when booking your ticket:

Tips : you will be able to find for sale, in certain international airports, the accessories of transport to the standards.

Consider acclimating your cat to its new crate or carrying bag, pheromone sprays can help.

The health check

A review visit, at your vet, is essential to ensure that your cat is in good standing (vaccination, passport, certificate, etc.), that it is in good health and that it is possible for it to be transported by plane.

He can also advise you on the techniques or products that exist, excluding tranquilizers, to help him pass this course and will tell you the best way to manage the trip, especially when it comes to drinking and feeding your cat during the flight.

If your cat must take a treatment at fixed times, the veterinarian can tell you what to do.

In any case, do not hesitate to ask him, he knows your little companion and his advice will help you plan the trip.

Things to know

There is a lot of misinformation circulating about pet air travel, especially when it comes to travel in the hold. Rest assured, the hold in which your cat will travel, if it is not authorized to do so in the cabin, with you, is pressurized, ventilated and heated.

The cats brachycephalic, because they can experience breathing difficulties in flight, will sometimes be forced to travel in freight. Their transport will then be subject to specific conditions and you must arrive 4 to 5 hours in advance at the airport for the usual formalities. You can use a service provider specializing in animal transport by freight.

Regarding your cat’s food and drink, it is recommended to feed it at least 6 hours before boarding and of make it drink shortly before, to avoid dehydration.

Things to expect

Before leaving, in addition to the transport case or the bag to regulatory standards, plan to the following accessories. They will be very useful for the trip:

  • Absorbent mattress pad;
  • Leash and harness ;
  • Spray of soothing hormones, according to the veterinarian’s advice;
  • Toy, or familiar object imbued with its scent or yours;
  • Blanket.

Trick : whatever your destination, before leaving, think about enter a temporary address in your personal space on the I-CAD site (Identification of Domestic Carnivores). This can be very useful in the event of the loss of your little companion.

The day of departure

You have met all the regulatory conditions, your luggage and his are packed, you are ready to go!

Remember to put a label on the transport box with your destination address and a phone number.

Plan to arrive at the airport 2 hours before boarding, you will be able to deal with any last-minute problems.

During the security check, you may need to hug your cat and when his crate goes on the shelves. In that case, the harness will be very useful to you to prevent him from escaping into the airport.

Trick : keep a small amount of kibble on hand to feed him at the airport in case of a prolonged flight delay.

In flight

You are installed on the plane, your little companion is in his cage or in his transport bag. Know that he should not go out, throughout the duration of the flight.

If the air conditioning is too cool, use the blanket to cover the crate or bag, so that it does not get cold.

Keep in mind that cats do not like changes, as such an airplane trip can be extremely stressful. feel free to talk to him softly and calmly to reassure him.

At the arrival

You have arrived at your final destination. The ordeal is finally over for your cat, but he is likely to come out a little disoriented. In addition, he will have to discover and get used to a new environment.

Don’t rush it, let him readjust into a room, quiet, open door, with its familiar objects, To drink and to eat. He will adapt, at his own pace, and recover from his emotions faster!