When it comes to traveling with pets, the first thought that probably comes to mind is a dog accompanying you on vacation. But a cat can also travel with you, and many people will take their felines with them on flights.
However, it’s not always easy to fly with your pet internationally, and you will need to choose an airline that accepts pets as in-cabin passengers or cargo to make sure your cat can fly with you. Whether you’re planning a pet-friendly holiday or moving overseas, here’s an overview of the costs of flying internationally with your cat.
Can You Fly Internationally With a Cat?
Some holiday-goers love to travel with their feline friends, or they must take them along for long-distance moves to foreign countries. Fortunately, you can fly with your cat just like you can with a dog, as long as the airline accepts pets and you meet a few requirements.
You’ll need to ask the airline whether they accept cats, how many pets they accept on each flight, and what the requirements are for traveling with your cat. You also need to consider what you need to meet the live import regulations in your destination country.
Some countries will require cats to go through a quarantine procedure upon arrival, while others just need you to prove that your cat is healthy and fully vaccinated. It’s your responsibility to make sure that you meet all the criteria before you travel and that any necessary fees are within your budget.
How Much Does It Cost to Fly a Cat Internationally?
There are two ways to fly your cat internationally. The safest and most recommended method is to find an airline that allows pets to ride with you in the cabin. Not all airlines will allow pets, and some will only accept them on domestic flights, so it’s important to double-check that your cat is allowed. On average, the biggest airlines will charge $125 per pet for a one-way flight, but there are cheaper alternatives.
The second option can be more expensive even if you’re not flying with your cat, which is to book them in as live cargo. Not all airline carriers will allow pets in the cargo hold, and those that do might have restrictions for domestic flights or will only make exceptions for military members.
Booking your pet as cargo is convenient if you can’t get on the same flight or don’t have a friend to travel with your cat. However, it’s also a more stressful method of travel, and you won’t be nearby to check on your cat regularly.
As a quick overview, here’s a table of popular airlines that allow cats:
|Airline||In-Cabin Cost (One Way)||Cargo Cost (One Way)|
|American Airlines||$125 per kennel||$420–$790|
|United Airlines||$125 per kennel (with an additional $125 fee for 24-hour layovers)||Only available for qualifying U.S. military personnel|
|JetBlue||$125 per pet||N/A|
|Alaska Airlines||$70–$75||Domestic flights only|
Additional Costs to Anticipate
It’s not just the cost of the flight that you need to pay attention to. There are several other fees and expenses that you’ll need to pay to be able to travel with your cat abroad, especially if you want to make sure your cat is accepted into the country.
If you’re planning on flying anywhere with your cat, you’ll need a reliable, airline-approved pet carrier. The carrier needs to be able to fit under the seat in front of you while still providing enough room for your cat to stand up, lie down, and turn around comfortably.
An approved carrier for a cat can cost anywhere between $19 and $120. If you’re booking your cat as cargo, make sure your carrier meets the airline’s pet cargo regulations.
You’ll only be allowed to travel with a cat if they’re healthy and are fully vaccinated. International travel also means you have to pay attention to the requirements of the country that you’re traveling to. You’ll need to provide all the necessary paperwork for health screening and vaccinations to meet the requirements of the destination country.
This can cost anywhere between $40 and$150 per pet, possibly more if your vet has to do extensive screenings.
Several countries have quarantine requirements that you’ll need to abide by upon your arrival. The quarantine facilities will board your pet for the required number of days, which covers feeding costs, healthcare, outdoor time, and walks. Due to this, you’ll be expected to pay a fee to keep your pet at the facility.
The cost varies depending on how long you need to quarantine your cat and can range between $200 and $2,000. You’ll need to look into the government regulations for quarantining pets before your trip.
Should I Hire a Pet Transport Service to Fly My Cat Internationally?
Hiring a pet transport service is something that many cat owners do if they’re not sure how to travel internationally with their pets. These companies will work with you to make sure you meet all the requirements for travel and ensure that your cat gets to where they need to be on time and as safely as possible.
Pet travel companies are easier to deal with but expensive, and you’re essentially trusting your cat’s welfare to strangers. It’s also not always necessary, as you can organize everything yourself instead if you want to.
DIYing your travel plans is a budget-friendly option, though you’ll need to do your research and make sure you meet all the requirements necessary to let your cat travel with you. Your responsibilities will include booking the flight, boarding kennels, and quarantine facilities. If you can’t fly with your cat yourself, friends and family are often cheaper alternatives to hiring a company, and your cat will likely be more comfortable with familiar faces.
Does Pet Insurance Cover International Flights for Cats?
What pet insurance covers depends on the provider and the policy that you take out. Most providers will only cover emergency veterinary expenses for illnesses and accidents that occur while you have coverage and only if you visit a veterinarian in the U.S.
However, some providers offer travel insurance for your pet and cover them for accidents or illnesses that they might develop while abroad. While some pet travel insurance plans only cover your cat from airport to airport, others will provide coverage for veterinary care abroad.
This is why it’s important to do your research before taking out a policy. If you plan on taking many trips with your cat, a pet insurance provider that covers you when you need it is essential.
How to Fly With Your Cat Internationally
Planning a vacation is challenging even before you add your cat to the mix. Unfortunately, traveling with a pet can make the planning stage feel never-ending, but the effort to travel safely is worth it when you ultimately get to spend your vacation with your pet. There are many things to remember, though, so here are a few quick tips.
Besides preparing the paperwork proving that your cat meets the requirements for the destination country, you should also make sure that your cat is microchipped and that their carrier is safe, secure, and intact.
You can keep them comfortable by placing a blanket or shirt that smells like you in their carrier. This gives them a soft spot to nap and keeps them calm by surrounding them with familiar scents.
Also, remember to plan ahead by booking pet-friendly ground transport and hotels before your trip. You don’t want your cat to spend more time in their carrier than necessary.
Almost all airlines will require you to keep your cat secured in their carrier under the seat in front of you for the duration of the flight. This is why you need to make sure your cat has space to move and is as comfortable in their carrier as possible. Unfortunately, you won’t be allowed to let your cat explore the plane while you’re traveling.
That said, you will need to give them food and water during the flight, so make sure their bowls are easily accessible without opening the carrier.
There are many reasons that you might need to fly a cat to another country. Maybe you adopted a new cat while you were abroad, you’re moving to another country, or you’re going on a cat-friendly vacation. While it can be a challenge to get everything sorted, traveling with your cat is possible.
For international flights that allow cats in the cabin, you’ll need to pay a pet fee of up to $125, depending on the airline. Live cargo costs can be more expensive, if the airline allows it at all. You’ll also need to consider the cost of the health certificate, import fees, an airline-approved carrier, and any pet transport professionals you hire during the process.
Featured Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock