The Process of Shipping a Cat

Matt Matasci Matt Matasci · Updated: June 20, 2023 / Published: December 22, 2022

Shipping a cat can feel like a daunting task — especially if your feline friend hasn’t traveled across the country before. Every cat’s needs vary, depending on their health conditions, personality and the timing and distance of the trip. However, shipping a cat doesn’t need to be a stressful process.

When deciding how to transport your cat, there are several factors that you need to consider. First, you need to decide whether you would like to personally transport your cat or hire a professional transporter. 

The DIY Approach to Shipping a Cat 

Personally transporting your cat is one option. A major benefit of this approach is it allows you to stay close to your feline friend during the trip. On one hand it will cut down on the stress of not being there with your pet. However, most people don’t have professional pet transporting experience. This could lead to issues while on the road. 

Pet Shipping with CitizenShipper

The biggest difficulty with transporting a cat? Potty breaks and feeding time. Unlike dogs, which can be leashed and let out of the car to do their business and have a snack, you can’t really let a cat out of the car. There are a few rare exceptions of cats that are cool with leashes. The vast majority of cats will panic and dart away when let out of the car.

Some other tips for shipping a cat include:

  • Limiting the amount of time a cat spends in a carrier each day. The typical cat should only be in the carrier for six hours at a time. 
  • You’ll need to stop every three hours or so to let the cat out of its carrier and go potty.
  • Avoid driving at night because this is when cats are at their most active.

Hiring a Professional to Transport a Cat

Hiring a professional driver or air nanny may be a more convenient and hassle-free alternative to driving the cat yourself. Many people just don’t have the time to personally drive their cat long-distance. With a six hour limit in the carrier, a cross-country trip can end up taking a week or more!

Depending on your cat’s unique needs, your budget, and the distance, there are several modes of transportation to move a cat.

Air Transportation

Some airlines won’t ship cats, but most welcome your feline friend aboard to fly the friendly skies. Airlines have individual policies, prices and perks for flying your cat — shop around before deciding on a particular airline. Cats are usually small enough to fit under the seat. That means they can fly in the cabin with a pet ticket.

If you or a loved one cannot fly with your kitty, another option that is available is to hire an experienced air nanny to travel with your feline friend. Air nannies take care of your kitty from the airport of origin until the arrivals gate, ensuring that your cat is safe and well-cared for while they fly soar through the friendly skies.

The cargo area is the only option for cats too large to fit under the seat in front of you. While the cargo area is pressurized and generally safe for cats, it can be a traumatic experience for sensitive felines. We recommend that you avoid flying your cat in the cargo area. Another reason we don’t recommend this approach is that most airlines don’t allow pets in the cargo area.

Reasons to Avoid Cargo Transport

  • Some airlines may have age requirements in place for shipping your cat. For instance, American Airlines requires cats to be at least eight weeks old in order to fly. It also restricts the length of flights to 12 hours or less if you’re flying a cat. 
  • Additionally, pet travel is restricted to origins and destinations that are under 80 degrees Fahrenheit, so air travel may not be an option for shipping a cat if they are traveling to or from warmer locations.
  • The breed of your cat can also be a consideration when thinking about air transportation for your cat. If your kitty belongs to a “snub-nosed” or brachycephalic breed — such as Persian, Himalayan, or Burmese breeds — breathing problems prohibit them from flying in cargo.

Ground Transportation

Ground transportation is a safe, comfortable and commonly used option for shipping a cat. If you’re planning on having your cat driven to their destination, the first decision to make is who you will entrust to transport your precious kitty. You may elect to drive your cat yourself or have a friend or family member take care of your cat on the road. If you are arranging to have your cat transported personally, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Book an appointment with the vet and order a full check-up for your cat.
  • Keep copies of your cat’s vaccination records and medical documents on hand during the trip.
  • Get your cat acclimated to traveling in a car, especially if he or she has never been driven before. Begin with shorter, five minute “practice drives” to help your cat become used to the car environment. Then, gradually build up to longer trips.
  • Prepare a proper carrier for transporting your cat. It should be large enough for your cat to turn around inside and move about freely. The carrier needs good ventilation and should be strapped into the seat. Being strapped into a seatbelt is safer than placing it on the floor.
  • Provide your cat a travel litter box so that he or she can tend to their business in a safe, clean, and enclosed space.
  • Feed your cat before beginning the actual trip, but not too close to travel. Avoid feeding your cat during the drive.
  • Plan to stop every three-to-four hours to allow your cat to drink water, use the litter box, and move around the car. Make sure that all of your doors are closed securely whenever you let your kitty out to stretch their legs.

Hiring a Professional Transporter on CitizenShipper

CitizenShipper’s unique, two-way shipping marketplace makes it easy to find a professional driver with experience transporting cats. Based on your cat’s unique needs, the pick-up and drop-off locations, and the timing of the transport, CitizenShipper will match you with qualified and vetted transporters who can bring your cat to their destination safely and quickly. 

Once you receive your matches, the transporters will send you their shipping quotes and you can choose a driver who meets your requirements and budget. As always, cat transporters will have access to FirstVet—our on-call, 24/7 veterinary video consultation service—should a driver need professional advice or referrals to a nearby clinic during the trip. 

Additionally, Citizenshipper offers a pet protection plan of up to $1,000 and a booking assurance guarantee. The guarantee means you have access to a dedicated customer service team to answer questions, refund protection in case of fraudulent transactions and driver replacement with VIP rebooking assistance in case of a last-minute cancellation by the driver.


Now that you understand how to choose the best methods to transport your cat, you’re ready to begin preparing for your cat’s exciting journey. You can request specific equipment, require VIP transport and opt-in for services like GPS tracking! will keep you in the passenger seat for the duration of your kitty’s trip. Create a new cat transport listing today and get quotes for shipping a cat within minutes!