Flying Long-Haul with a Cat

Beany the Cat

Travelling can be stressful enough for a lot of people, and flying long-haul with your cat is not fun! I hope that I can ease any worries or concerns you may have by sharing my experience with you, as well as offering some helpful tips. While you may still feel stressed during your travel day, it’s helpful to know what to expect.

For my husband and myself, it was no question whether or not we would bring our cat, Beany, with us when we moved to Germany. For most people, their pets are a part of the family. Beany is no exception, and we always refer to her as our first-born. Since my husband was already in Germany, I flew alone with Beany. My 18-hour travel day started in Kelowna with a few hours in Calgary and once we landed in Frankfurt there was still a 3 hour drive to our new home. Call me crazy, but I normally enjoy airports and airplanes. However, while travelling with Beany, I just felt bad for her and stressed.

Booking The Flight

Beany before the flight
Beany Before the Flight

As soon as you know when you’re flying and what airline you are flying with, you need to decide whether you want your pet to fly in cabin or with the cargo. Some airlines don’t allow for pets to travel in the cabin, so check this before booking your flight. The type of pet carrier you buy will depend on this as cargo requires a hard-shell pet carrier. I flew with Air Canada, which allowed me to bring Beany with me in the cabin. She was with me the entire time and I probably would have been more stressed if I had to put her in cargo.

Once you book your flight, you have to call the airline right away to tell them you’re bringing your pet. During the call I was asked the weight of my cat and the weight of my pet carrier. Beany happens to be a fit 6kg; thankfully still lower than the 10kg weight limit! With Air Canada, it costs $100 each way, but keep in mind, this price could change.

Call the Vet

Once your flight is booked, you’ll want to make an appointment with your vet to make sure your cat is fit to fly. You will also need official government paperwork when travelling to another country. I will write another post about that since it’s a lot of information to cover. I got a health certificate from my vet just in case the airline asked for it. They didn’t for me, but I would recommend it anyways. I also got Beany a sedative for flying to relax her, since she gets stressed easily and it was a long trip. Sadly, I don’t think it actually worked for her very well, which made for a very stressful 9-hour flight to Frankfurt!

What to Pack

Beany with Mr.Peanuts Pet Carrier during long-haul flight

Finally, you’ll want to get a few supplies for the trip. For Beany, I had her water dish, some food, her harness and leash, and her favourite blanket and toy. I also put some puppy pads on the bottom of her carrier for when she had to pee. I kept her harness on for the duration of the trip so I could easily let her in and out of her carrier. Linked below are travel pet products that I would recommend:

*If you decide to purchase any products from these links, I receive a small percentage of the profits. However, it doesn’t make the product more expensive, it just helps me out a little!

Getting to the Airport

Feeding Beany food and water before boarding the plane

When flying with pets, you cannot check-in online for your flight and it was recommended that I arrive 3 hours prior to departure. While checking in at the airport, they looked over Beany to make sure she was alert, but they didn’t ask for any paperwork. However, every situation could be different and it’s good to be prepared.

When it comes time to go through security, you can ask to wait in a room with your cat while they scan your carrier. The agents originally wanted me to walk through the scanners while holding Beany, but she wasn’t allowed to wear her leash. I was afraid that she something would happen, so I was able to wait with her in a quiet place while they scanned the bag for me.

Before Boarding the Plane

Before boarding the plane, I tried to give Beany a bit of food and water. She ate a little bit, but didn’t want to drink, so I dabbed some water on her lips a few times. It wasn’t much, but I didn’t want her to get dehydrated. I also checked the puppy pad in her carrier to make sure it wasn’t wet. Since I wanted more time to get settled on the place, I made sure I was at the front of the boarding line.

In the Air

Waiting in the airport for our long-haul flight to Germany

While flying, there really isn’t anything you can do for your pet. During take-off, Beany was especially frantic and wanted to get out of her carrier. It can be stressful when there is nothing you can do and it’s easy to feel anxious. During the flight, it’s important to keep yourself calm and occupied

While I can’t guarantee that flying long-haul with your cat will be enjoyable, I hope that this prepares you for what you can expect. For me, it was just important that I was able to bring her to our new home safely. Once I arrived, we gave her lots of love and treats to help get her settled.

If you have any more questions or any more tips that can help others, please leave them below!

Thanks for reading!

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