Traveling by plane with your cat: what organization?

Traveling By Plane With Your Cat: What Organization?

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

Legal Obligations

Depending on whether you will be traveling in France or abroad, to the European Union or outside, the regulations will not be the same. Therefore, it is always appropriate to find out about the specific regulations for each destination, long before the trip, to be sure of having enough time to get in order.

Travel in France

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

    • Whether it is 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, drawn up 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 have your cat vaccinated against rabies, allow a minimum delay of one month. Indeed, during the first injection, the vaccine is not considered valid until after a period of 21 days.

Travel within 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 carried out before July 3, 2011;
    • Be up to date with his anti-rabies vaccination, a period of at least 21 days after the primary vaccination is required;
    • Hold a valid European pet passport which mentions their identification, description, vaccines and treatments and your contact details. It must be certified by a veterinarian.
    • Be up to date with his anti-rabies vaccination (delay of at least 21 days after the primary vaccination).
    • Report the presence of your cat ;
    • 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 its presence72 hours before departure, some airlines limit the number of animals allowed on a flight.
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Since 1er January 2021, to travel to the UK, your cat will need to:

    • Be over 15 weeks old;


    • Be identified by means of an electronic chip, or a legible tattoo, if it was carried out 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 regarding travel with pets are not uniform. Depending on your destination, you will need to provide an international health certificate and/or an anti-rabies titration. Quarantine may be required, as well as a clinical examination (at your expense), and some countries may even completely ban your cat from entering their territory.

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

Also, depending on the country you went to, additional formalities may be required, when you return to France (for example, an anti-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!

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

Preparing for the plane trip

As a general rule, cats that do not exceed 4 to 5 kg are accepted on board aircraft, but the conditions of transport may vary from one company to another.

The airline company

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

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

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

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With the airline, when booking your ticket:

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

Remember to acclimatize your cat to its new crate or carrier bag, pheromone sprays can help you do this.

The Health Check

A assessment visit at your veterinarian, is essential to ensure that your cat is in order (vaccination, passport, certificate, etc.), that he is in good health and that air transport is possible for him.

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 ride especially regarding your cat’s food and drink during the flight.

If your cat needs to take 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 air travel for pets, especially when it comes to cargo hold travel. Rest assured, the hold in which your cat will travel, if it is not authorized to do so in the cabin, in your company, is pressurized, ventilated and heated.

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

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

Things To Expect

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

    • Absorbent pad;
    • Leash and harness ;
    • Soothing hormone spray, as advised by veterinarian;
    • Toy, or familiar object imbued with their scent or yours;
    • Blanket.
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Trick : whatever your destination, before leaving, think about fill in a temporary address in your personal space on I-CAD website (Identification of Domestic Carnivores). This can be very useful in case of 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!

Consider putting a label on the transport crate with your destination address and a phone number.

Plan to arrive at the airport 2 hours before boarding so you can deal with any last-minute problems.

During the security check, you may need to pick up your cat and when his cage goes through the rays. In this case, the harness will be very useful to you to prevent him from running away at the airport.

In Flight

You are installed on the plane, your little companion is in his cage or in his transport bag. Know that he shouldn’t go outfor the duration of the flight.

If the air conditioning is too cool, use the blanket to cover the crate or bagso that he is not cold.

Keep in mind that cats don’t like change, so air travel 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 it is likely that he will come out of it a little disoriented. He will also have to discover and get used to a new environment.

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

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