How to Ship a Cat by Air and How Much Does it Cost?

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated: August 28, 2023 / Published: April 30, 2020

Looking for a reliable pet transportation agency to ship your pet cat overseas? It happens quite often that due to certain financial or logistic reasons, you may not be able to travel together with your feline. So, in this article, we will tell you about all that you need to do to ship your pet cat abroad and answer your question, how much does it cost?

Out of all modes of cat shipping– ground and air, the latter one is the most preferred and safest option than you may imagine, particularly if you need a longer time in planning the trip. Let’s move further into the topic to know about the entire process of cat transportation.

Process of shipping a cat by air 

Here is the ultimate overview of the stepwise process to ship a cat by plane: 

Make sure you pre-plan the whole thing before the move to learn all details and rules of country import, necessary feline vaccination requirements, and other relevant factors that may come into play.

Step 1. Select an airline-authorized shipment crate for your pet cat. Then get started with the crate training to make your cat feel easy and habituated with it during transportation. 

Note: In case you find that your cat is still not used to the crate, but only associates while visiting the vet, then help your pet get used to it in the remaining days before your travel. It will make things simpler for both you and the cat along with the agent of your hired pet transportation service.

Step 2. Book the flight ticket for your cat on a pet-friendly airline that has previous good records of pet transportation. Well, there are many carriers- one better than the other. So, take your time, do the research, and then decide what would be fit for your pet. 

Note: If you are confused about it, consult with your cat’s vet, or other fellow pet travelers. However, the best option is to ask experienced pet shippers as they may better understand your requirement and help you with the best idea. 

Step 3. Visit your cat’s vet for an overall checkup, complete the necessary vaccinations, and get the required health certificate that may be asked while boarding your pet. 

Step 4. Your cat will be picked up by the pet transportation agent a day or two (depending upon the policy of your hired agency) before your travel. This is done to make the pet familiar with the ones with whom they have to travel to their destination.

Step 5. Once boarded, food and other necessities will be provided to the pet during the flight at an interval of every 4 to 6 hours. However, for infant pets, the meal interval will be less.

Step 6. Lastly, you need to provide all the necessary documents which include Rabies vaccination, Certificate of Veterinary Inspection, Acclimation certificate. Other added documentation requirements include (Confirmation of Feeding)- giving food and water before the flight boards, an inspection of the Live Animal Checklist, and checking if the tranquilizer consent forms are filed properly.

How much does it cost to ship a cat by air? 

Well, the cost imposed on pet shipping among the agencies. Also, the cost to ship a pet depends upon the distance covered to reach the destination where you want to relocate your pet. So, it is a bit difficult to estimate the animal transportation expense.

However, just for your reference, the cost of shipping a cat is almost the same as being charged in transporting a cat via cargo. 

On average, it could be something like $8 to $10 charged for 1 kilometer, costing (number of kilometers traveled (say 10) X $(8-10) = $80 to $100 ), excluding the other required fees.  

Below given are some of the most important components that will be needed during a cat relocation: 

  • The travel crate
  • Relocation to and from the dedicated airport
  • The airfare
  • International import permits followed by the health documents 
  • Pre-transport vet checkups 
  • Government endorsements
  • Quarantine cum Customs fees

The cost of all the above-listed items will differ from one move to the other based on the below-given factors: 

1. Origin and Destination

Basically, the nearer you are to the international airport from both origin and destination, the lesser will be the cost imposed on your shipping. The cost will be even lesser if your traveling destination is interstate or between smaller towns which can be easily covered by a long drive journey. Otherwise, the overall cost will be quite expensive if the journey to the destination requires multiple flights.   

2. Import Permits 

If you are traveling nationally, then the basic fight permit will do. However, if you are moving internationally, then your destination will require taking formal government consent in the form of an import permit, adding extra cost to the trip. 

3. Government Endorsements 

It is important to collect formal paperwork regarding the pet’s health from its vet office. These documents might be later required to be government attested, for instance, the (United States Department of Agriculture) USDA.

4. Airport Check-in

The check-in process is quite time-consuming and may take hours to complete. Here, you will need the help of your hired pet transportation agent to ensure that all the necessary paper works are done and are in order. Plus, the agent must ensure to take proper care of your car while checking in. Based on these formalities, the agent will charge accordingly. 

5. Customs Clearance 

The shipping cost is not yet over upon landing at the destined airport-  in many cases, a customs agent will be there to negotiate the entry procedures. Also, there could be certain excise and customs fees or taxation to be paid during this time.


1. Can you send a cat by plane on itself?

Yes, you can send your cat by air all by itself. However, the situation will be a little tough though. So, it is best to keep this as the last option when none other turns out well. As per the veteran experts, it is best and safe to ship a cat with a human traveler by air, so that the pet gets its meal and stays hydrated throughout the journey.

2. Can you send the cats in the mail?

Yes, you can. But, a comfortable carrier is what your cat will require while mailing. Be it ground or air transportation, apart from ensuring your cat’s travel comfort, you need to select a carrier that facilitates the airline or cat transporting agent to securely handle the cat during the journey. Therefore, choose a sturdy cat carrier, with softer smooth edges, suitable for further transportation.

3. What is the cheapest way to ship a cat?

The most inexpensive mode of shipping a cat is transportation by airline cargo service. You get all the required services (that you get from pet transportation service agencies) but at a much lower price. So, availing of any pet relocation service should be a secondary choice, in case the first option doesn’t work out for any reason. 


Chances are that you may not arrive to accompany your cat from the airport. So, to be on the safer side, make sure to inform any of your close relatives or friends to be there at the required time to pick up your cat. You can also pay them to value their time. It will be still 800 times cheaper than booking another pet agency for the final pick-up and transport service. 

Note: Your friend may require to display the relationship proof along with some identity details to ensure that you have assigned your friend’s name for the pet pickup. So, send a signed email to your friend beforehand, mentioning his/her person’s name on it, who will be responsible for receiving your cat from the airport. The hard copy of that email will play the evidence when the authority asks. 

Else, if you are new to the place where you moved, then the pet relocation agencies can best serve your purpose. Well, this time, the cost won’t be that high as it cost you on flight shipping.  

As you receive your cat, call your vet in case you have any queries regarding the after-effect of the cat’s shipping trip. Or, you may simply reconfirm your concerns from your hired pet relocation service specialist to follow the tips or advice (if required). So, that was all about the cat shipping process. Hope it helps!