Skip to Main Content

We use cookies to offer you a better experience, analyze site traffic and assist with our marketing efforts. By using this website you accept the use of cookies, outlined in our Privacy Policy.

Get 3 FREE Booster pouches with every purchase of 6 lbs or larger Go! Solutions dry food! Print your coupon here and redeem in-store.

June 26, 2024

How to Travel with a Cat: A Stress-Free Guide

  • Lifestyle + Exercise
  • Travel
  • Tips + Tricks
Cat being held by owner staring out window

Traveling with your cat can be an adventure, sprinkled with a bit of challenge. Whether you're making a cross-country move, heading out for a holiday, or simply taking a trip to the vet, ensuring your feline friend is comfortable and stress-free is paramount. This comprehensive guide on how to travel with a cat will provide you with all the answers you've been seeking, from managing a travel with a litter box to making car and plane journeys a breeze.

Before You Embark: Is It Cruel to Travel with a Cat?

The notion that travel is inherently cruel to cats is far from the truth. Understanding your cat's needs and adequately preparing for the journey can make all the difference. Much like people, cats can adapt to various situations, including travel, provided their comfort and safety are prioritized.

Traveling with Cats in a Car

Embarking on a car journey with your cat doesn't have to be fraught with worry. Here's how to make it a smooth ride for both of you:

  • Invest in a sturdy, well-ventilated carrier. Familiarize your cat with the carrier in advance, leaving it out and accessible at home before you embark on a trip2. Make it extra comfy with their favourite blanket or toy.

  • Get your cat accustomed to the car and the carrier before a long road trip. If your cat isn’t used to being in a carrier or a car, practice putting her inside and walking around at home, and graduating to short trips in the car around the block so they can get a little familiar with the sound of the experience2. Create positive associations with treats and affection.

  • Make sure your cat is properly restrained during travel. Don’t let them roam around in the car while you drive. Place the carrier on a stable surface, buckled into the backseat or between passengers’ feet on the floor of the car where it won’t slide around3.

  • For longer trips, frequent breaks are essential. Allow your cat to stretch and use the litter box. Make sure you have a comfortable harness to allow your cat to roam safely, and that your cat is wearing ID tags or is microchipped in case you get separated.

  • A portable, travel-friendly litter box is imperative. When considering travel with a cat’s litterbox, opt for one that's compact, easy to clean, and familiar to your cat. There are many portable and disposable litter box options available online. It’s also a good idea to line the carrier with a pee pad, just in case!

  • Make sure your overnight accommodation allows cats. If you’re staying somewhere during your trip, make sure it’s pet-friendly! Keep in mind that some pet-friendly hotels may charge an additional fee for your pet.

  • Make sure your cat has access to fresh water and food. Make sure you bring bottles of fresh water and containers of food for your cat to enjoy along the trip. Ensure it’s your cat’s regular food and bring water from home to avoid upsetting their stomach2.

GO! SOLUTIONS wet food Tetra Paks for cats

Recommended Solution

Re-closealable Wet Food Tetra Paks

Our wet food options offer pocket-sized nutrition in convenient, re-closealable Tetra Pak cartons. Made with premium animal proteins and antioxidant-rich cranberries for urinary tract support.

Remember to never, ever leave your cat alone in the car. Cars can quickly become extremely hot and pose a danger to your cat’s health.

Cat sitting in brown paper bag

How to Travel with a Cat on a Plane

Preparing for air travel with your cat involves more than just booking a ticket and heading to the airport. It's about ensuring a comfortable and stress-free experience for your beloved furry companion. From selecting the right carrier to understanding airline policies and ensuring their health and safety, here's how to make the skies friendlier for your feline friend.

Carrier Comfort is Key

Choosing the right carrier is crucial. Make it a familiar, comfortable space. Including a beloved toy or a blanket could make a world of difference. The carrier should be in good condition and not have any pieces sticking out that your cat can chew or break and inadvertently harm themselves. Your carrier should also be well ventilated, and if your cat will not be riding with you in the passenger cabin, make sure they have a water container that can be filled from the outside without opening the carrier, and food containers either attached or placed inside the carrier1.

It’s also important that your carrier is airline approved. Each airline has its size requirements, so verify these details well in advance. A well-ventilated, secure, and escape-proof carrier is a must. Make sure your carrier has live animal and right way up stickers affixed to the outside1. Make sure these stickers don’t block any ventilation!

Make sure your carrier is sized appropriately for your cat. Airlines will check to make sure that your cat can comfortably stand, sit upright, turn around, and lay down in their carrier5. The International Air Travel Association (IATA) provides this formula as a guide for the internal dimensions of a carrier for a single animal1:

  • A = Your cat’s length from the tip of their nose to the base of the tail.

  • B = The height from the ground to your cat's elbow joint.

  • C = Your cat’s width, measuring across their shoulders or widest point (whichever is wider).

  • D = Your cat’s height when standing, from the ground to the top of their head or ear tip (whichever is taller).

Minimum internal dimensions for your cat’s carrier

  • Container length = A + ½ B

  • Container width = C x 2

  • Container height = D + any bedding

Brachycephalic breeds (those with short faces like Persians or Himalayans) require a 10% larger container. Keep in mind that more room may be required for your cat to comfortably stand, sit upright, lay naturally, and turn around while standing.

Keep in mind you’ll have to remove your cat from the carrier during security checkpoints for the luggage to pass through the x-ray machine4. Make sure you have a comfortable harness that you can put on your cat while they’re outside the carrier. Make sure you remove any collars or harnesses prior to crating!

Health & Safety Before Flying

Airlines may require proof of vaccination and a health certificate from a vet5. Make sure you have these documents handy, as they offer peace of mind, showing you're dedicated to your cat's wellbeing.

A pre-travel vet visit will ensure your cat is fit for air travel and can also help address any concerns about anxiety or motion sickness.

Food, Water, and Litter Box Logistics

Feed your cat a light meal at least two hours before departure1 to avoid any travel-related discomfort. Always offer water, but remember, too much food can lead to an uncomfortable journey for your pet.

Having portable, disposable litterbox options for use at the airport before and after the flight can be handy. Familiarize your cat with these before travel to ease their comfort. Line your cat’s carrier with an absorbent material like pee pads in case your cat goes during their flight.

Breed Considerations

If your cat is brachycephalic, or snub nosed, like a Persian or Exotic Shorthair, airlines may have additional requirements. Make sure you reach out to the airline in advance to ensure they’re permitted to fly.

Be sure to add an additional 10% to your cat’s ideal container dimensions if they're a brachycephalic breed.

Should I Tranquilize My Cat Before a Flight?

It is not recommended to tranquilize or sedate your cat before a flight1. Most tranquilizers lower your cat’s blood pressure, which occurs naturally at high altitudes1. This can be a recipe for disaster, especially with old or stressed animals. Instead, create a quiet, darkened environment for your pet to try and help them relax.

Is Travel Really for Cats?

Cats are creatures of habit, but that doesn't mean they can't become comfortable with travel. The key lies in preparation, understanding your cat's personality, and adjusting plans as needed. With patience and the right approach, your cat can learn to be an excellent travel buddy.

  1. "Container Requirements." International Air Transport Association. Accessed May 22, 2024.

  2. "Road Trips and Car Travel with Your Cat." VCA Canada. Accessed May 22, 2024.

  3. "Road Trip With Your Cat? Here’s What You Should Know." Travel Cat. Accessed May 22, 2024.

  4. "Small Pets." Transportation Security Administration. Accessed May 22, 2024.

  5. "Traveler’s Pet Corner." International Air Transport Association. Accessed May 22, 2024.


Go! Solutions logo

Go! Solutions Team

A Team of Dedicated Pet Parents + Nutrition Experts

We all want our cats and dogs to lead happy, healthy lives. We’re here to help you, with easy-to-understand information about your pet's daily care and feeding.