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How to Travel Internationally With A Cat – An Ultimate Guide

Traveling internationally is always exciting and slightly more complicated than traveling domestically. Additionally, if you have the intention to take your cat with you there are a few extra steps you need to follow that I’ll cover in this article.

A few things that getting a cat prepared to travel internationally involve are: navigating border regulatory requirements, to meet their demanding deadlines as well as knowing what to do when in the airport although there's a full article where I cover how to fly with a cat with more detail in that regard.

In this article, I'll tell you all the necessary information you should know when flying with your cat. I'll cover almost everything, including carriers, vaccines, and documents.

Table of Contents:

Can You Fly Internationally With A Cat

Let’s Organize the Steps to Travel Internationally With Your Cat

Permits to Fly with a Cat Overseas

Cats On Long Flights

How Much To Fly A Cat Internationally?

Dealing with Customs

Final Advice for International Travelers with a Cat


Can You Fly Internationally With A Cat?

Planning a trip to another country but don't want to leave your cat behind? No need to worry. You can take flight safely and comfortably with your cat if you do some planning and research. All airlines of this world have slightly different pet policies. My recommendation is to only fly with airlines that allow your cat to travel in the cabin with you. If you are flying through any airline, you should go to their official website and check their pet policies over there.

• Documentation

Document requirements vary from country to country, and you can check them online.

There’s a website that has all the requirements by country properly listed:

Make sure you check those documents in advance, like two to three months beforehand, because there can be a requirement to get some vaccines done three weeks before the flight. In this manner, you will not be shocked when you open the link.

Most countries will require a health certificate signed by an USDA approved veterinarian and stamped by APHIS 7 days prior to the trip. This is tricky because the process takes about 4 days so you will be left with little time for mistakes. Some clinics are experts in this type of paperwork and they will charge a fee (between $100 to $300) for your peace of mind.

Another tip is to look at regulations to bring the pet back to the US (in the case that you are American) because importing pets from abroad has its own limitations. But most states just require rabies and microchip.

• Medication

If your cat takes medications of any kind you should get your cat’s medications lined up. Tell your veterinarian about your trip. Inform your veterinarian as quickly as possible about your flight booking and updating the rabies vaccination (it usually gets renovated yearly). Together, you can ensure that your cat is fit for the journey and fulfills all the country's requirements.

Moreover, you might hear about sedation from your veterinarian. However, sedatives can lead to serious health issues with a cat's ability to control their breathing and body temperature, and they can end up causing more harm than benefits on the plane. In my opinion, creating habituation to traveling and the carrier are more long lasting and safe for your cat.

• Departure Airport Security Checkpoint

Getting through an airport security checkpoint is also a big hassle. First, be ready by putting any necessary stuff into the bin(s) for the x-ray machine. Carry your cat tightly in your hands as you release it from the carrier while maintaining a tight grip on the leash.

Take the cat carrier for scanning through the x-ray scanner. After your cat and you have passed through security screening, find the pet carrier, put them inside safely, and then collect the remaining of your carry-on belongings.

• Arrival and Customs

Most of your cat’s paperwork will be checked before boarding the flight. Airlines do that to prevent you from having a problem upon destination. Customs might want to double check some of those documents but in my experience it’s mostly ownership and rabies.

Don’t get surprised if they just ask you but don’t require you to hand in the documents.

Let’s Organize the Steps to Travel Internationally With Your Cat

1. Rules and Regulations of a Country

Checking the destination country's regulations is the most important thing you must do first. Do that before scheduling a visit to your vet to get a clear sense of what vaccinations, tests, and supporting documentation are required.

The next step is to get in touch with the airline you chose because each airline has its own policies. Most airlines post their pet travel policies on their websites, but never a bad idea to call and inquire about them because pet policies occasionally change throughout the year.

2. Veterinary Visit

After that, a visit to the veterinarian is a must, not just since you need to gather the necessary paperwork. Before booking your tickets, ensure that your cat is healthy and fit, as flying can be very hectic.

Once the vet visit is over, plan for tickets. Get tickets early because not all airlines permit many pets on the plane. When you book, explain your matter. For instance, you should say that you'd be traveling with a cat who might meow the entire time. According to your situation, the assistant will advise you better.

3. Harness and Leash

Prepare for your trip by using a harness and leash beforehand. If your cat has never experienced wearing a harness or a leash, practice this at home with treats as reinforcement. Furthermore, try getting a pet carrier with soft sides that easily fits under the seat. As much time as you can before your departure date, put the cat carrier in your home to help your cat get used to it. You can help encourage your cat to fall asleep or feel safe and secure inside the cat carrier by including treats, food, and a comfortable bed or blanket.

4. International Health Certificates

Traveling to another country frequently necessitates showing an international health certificate signed and verified by a government-approved veterinarian or any other government official. The particular requirements for traveling with a cat differ from country to country. Failure to comply with a country's requirement can lead to the confiscation of your cat, making your cat quarantined for a long time, expensive fines, or even euthanasia.

Permits to Fly with a Cat Overseas

The vaccination requirements for international travel always includes rabies vaccination. Some other needs are destination-specific vaccinations as well as deworming, microchipping, or other forms of identification. It may take time for your veterinarian to send you the necessary paperwork and test results, so prepare in advance and make sure the timings add up.

Cats On Long Flights

Even the calmest animal can become agitated and whiny when confined over many hours in an animal carrier under your seat. You can reach to pet them but can not entirely leave them out of the cat carrier while on the flight. If your pet becomes agitated or starts meowing, you and the people seated near you will not be happy.

As you will require a leash, you can carry them with you. It won't seem easy to hold your cat the entire time. Your 12-pound cat may not initially seem burdensome, but after some time, you will feel like you are carrying a heavy sack of potatoes. Furthermore, holding your cat can easily replace your carry-on bag. However, what will you do if you require something from your purse or other personal items? Here are some tips that will help you with this struggle:

• Try to teach your cat to use pee pads, and keep a few on hand if you need to use them in the restroom for your cat. Bring along some poop bags as well.

• Keep some snacks or treats on your hand to reward good behavior or to distract your pet.

• Carry a catnip mouse or small toy for your cat to keep them entertained.

• Keep a bottle of water with you to offer on the flight to keep them hydrated.

How Much To Fly A Cat Internationally?

Just like it is for people, traveling very far with animals requires a little more preparation than traveling only a short distance. Flying internationally with your cat involves a lot of moving pieces and a variety of expenses. I will try to list them below:

Cat Carrier: The travel crates or carrier must comply with some rules and regulations by the airline company and the government. A non-approved travel crate, despite the right size, can stop your cat from traveling if you arrive at the airport. Be mindful because numerous travel crates sold online do not adhere to these constantly-evolving regulations. $30 - $100

Escape Proof Harness and Leash: The best way to get your cat comfortable and tired before the trip is to allow them to explore the airport if they feel like to. A safe cat harness is key to prevent last minute heart attacks. No cat harness is 100% escape proof so practice before the trip to ensure your cat is comfortable wearing it. $15 - $80

Now comes the flight part. Although you can't purchase an additional seat for it, you will still need to reserve a seat for your kitty. Typically, you make payment when you arrive at the airport on the same day of your flight, as your in-cabin cat is considered a carry-on, but you need to book it in advance. $50 - $100 each way

USDA Veterinarian health certificate assuming your cat is already vaccinated and has a microchip. $150 - $250

Hire the veterinarian clinic to submit the paperwork for you can be avoided but it can remove one headache from your trip preparation $150 - $200

If you didn’t have any of the above, you will need to spend between $250 to $750 if you want to take your cat with you internationally. At least, the cat carrier and the harness are for you to keep.

Dealing with Customs

At the airport, everyone must pass through customs, including pets. In addition to checking passports, some countries may conduct a veterinary examination on newly arrived pets. They will question you regarding your reasons for relocating, and you will also be asked to show documentation before being reunited with your pet. However, not all customs offices have a border veterinary service arranged.

Final Advice for International Travelers with a Cat

Traveling with cats can be challenging. You can see that taking cats on a trip abroad requires a lot of planning. However, with enough prior notice and efficiently taking the necessary steps, we can make it through and comfortably travel with our cats as no one can stop you and your cat!

Here is a quick checklist for you to consider when traveling with a cat:

  • Important papers, such as a health certificate from abroad and proof of vaccinations

  • Harness and leash

  • Medication

  • Comfortable blanket and extras in case of mishaps

  • Sufficient food and treats for your cat to last the entire journey with one extra day of food if your flight gets delayed.

  • Disposable gloves, pee pads, waste bags, and ziplock bags

  • Additional litter for cats and reusable litter trays

  • Small water bottle for travel

  • Compact foldable containers for food and water

Author: Albert Colominas


Instagram, YouTube and Tiktok: @outdoorbengal

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