How Do I Transport My Cat?

Cagri Sarigoz Cagri Sarigoz · Updated January 16, 2024

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Traveling with a cat presents different challenges compared to traveling with a dog. While small and convenient for airplanes and trains, pet owners must address a cat’s unique needs. Tackling picky eaters and needing a litter box can be tricky, but with the right planning and preparation, you can successfully and safely travel with your pet and make cat transport easy.

Choose a Transport Method

Cats have the luxury of being small, so they have several modes of transportation available to them. Before selecting your best transport method, think about your individual cat and what method would be the safest and most efficient. Consider the cost of travel and how it fits into your larger travel budget.

Air Travel

Traveling by plane is very safe for most cats and is often the safest and most affordable option. Cats are small enough to fit in a carrier under the seat, so most airlines will allow them to fly in the main cabin. Most major airlines will charge $125 each way per cat.

Before boarding the plane with your furry feline, reserve your cat’s space in the cabin in advance. Airlines restrict pets to only one person, and each airplane is limited (based on the aircraft size) on how many animals are allowed onboard.

Train Travel

While not feasible for most pets, cats are more than welcome to travel aboard Amtrak trains. Amtrak requires cats to ride in a carrier that can fit under the seat. The total weight of the cat and the carrier together must be under 20 pounds.

Not all trains allow animals to ride as a “carry-on” item, and the price will vary between $29 and $39. Reserve your pet’s space on the train in advance because Amtrak only allows five animals per train. Complete Amtrak’s Animal Release Form before boarding the train for your trip.

Ground Transport

Ground transportation may be best for traveling with a particularly anxious cat or multiple cats. Ground transport utilizes your personal vehicle to physically drive your cat to your new location.

Driving with a cat does present certain challenges, like finding a safe place for your cat to eat and use the litter box. But, ground transportation is often one of the most affordable options, usually costing around $0.50 to $1.60 per mile. Ground transportation is the only safe option if you own a brachycephalic cat.

Pet Transport Service

A pet transportation service can help streamline logistics, creating straightforward and easy transit for your cat. A professional service, like CitizenShipper, can accompany your cat on an airplane or drive your cat to your location.

Pet transport is affordable, safe, and easy. You’ll be able to choose your driver and receive up-to-date messages, videos, and photos along the journey. CitizenShipper only charges a small fee based on the total distance traveled. Your transporter handles the transport fee directly using a payment platform of their preference.

Bring the Necessities

To safely travel with your cat, you’ll need to pack the necessities to keep your cat safe. Be sure to bring the following:

  • Carrier – Your cat needs an approved carrier with the right dimensions to fit under the seat if traveling by plane or train. Your cat should be able to stand up, sit, and lie down without touching the sides. Leakproof carriers with plenty of ventilation are preferred. Typically soft-sided carriers are preferred when traveling on a plane.
  • Litter Box – Unlike a dog, you can’t just walk your cat outside to do its business. Invest in a disposable litter box, perfect for travel. Or, if you plan to travel with your cat frequently, purchase a special travel litter box with a convenient slide-out litter tray.
  • Medication – Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you can slack on your cat’s medication. Be sure to pack extra medication in case of spills or drops. If your cat is particular about taking medication, using a specialized pill pocket-style treat can help make the process easier.
  • Food and Water – Like all living creatures, your cat needs food and water access. Bring at least one gallon of water for your cat. Keep your cat’s food in a sealable bag so you can store and save what your cat doesn’t eat.

Helpful Tips and Tricks

Even experienced pet transporters have struggled to transport cats because of their unique care requirements. Make your travel easy with these helpful tips and tricks when transporting your cat.

  • Plan Breaks – Plan to travel at most six hours with your cat in the car. Like all animals, cats need a break to use the bathroom, stretch their legs, and grab a quick bite to eat. Traveling any longer than six hours sets yourself and your cat up for failure in the long haul.
  • Pack Comforts – Cats connect extremely strongly to different scents, including their own. Pack your cat’s favorite toys, bedding, and blankets in their carrier to keep them comfortable and calm during transit.
  • Bring Paper Towels – Accidents happen. Between an upset tummy and spilled water, you’re likely to have some spills along the way. Save yourself some headaches and pack a roll of paper towels for your trip.
  • Bring a Vacuum – Even at home, cats can be messy with their litter, but the problem can turn exponential when you’re trying to use a little box in a small car. Pack a small, battery-powered vacuum cleaner to clean up accidents or spills.
  • Turn on the Heat! – If you have heated car seats, turn on the heat with your cat’s carrier sitting on top. Cats are heat-seeking animals, and having the heat from the car may help soothe a stressed or anxious cat.


Although different from dog transport, cats will still require basic necessities like food, water, and a safe place to use the bathroom. Utilizing a pet transportation company can help tackle unique logistics head-on and take some stress and guesswork out of traveling with your cat.