Should You Ship Your Cat as Airline Cargo? What You Need To Know

Rochdi Rais Rochdi Rais · Updated May 31, 2023

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If you’re contemplating whether should you ship your cat as airline cargo, it’s essential to understand the process, its pros and cons, and the alternatives available. This article will serve as a guide to assist you in making an informed decision.

Understanding the Airline Cargo Process

When considering if should you ship your cat as airline cargo, understanding what this entails is crucial. Essentially, your cat will travel in the plane’s cargo hold, separate from the passenger cabin. Each airline has specific regulations concerning pet cargo travel, so it’s essential to research and understands these before making your decision.

The Pros of Shipping Your Cat as Airline Cargo

One advantage of this option is that it can accommodate larger carriers, unlike cabin travel. If your cat prefers a more spacious carrier, cargo travel might be suitable. Furthermore, airlines have climate-controlled and pressurized cargo holds to ensure your cat’s comfort during the journey.

The Cons of Shipping Your Cat as Airline Cargo

On the flip side, there are potential downsides to consider when deciding whether should you ship your cat as airline cargo. These include your cat’s exposure to loud noises, which could cause stress, and the fact that you won’t be able to monitor your cat during the flight. Additionally, certain weather restrictions can affect your cat’s ability to fly in the cargo hold.

Preparing Your Cat for Airline Cargo Travel

If you decide that shipping your cat as airline cargo is the best choice, the next step is preparation. Ensuring your cat is comfortable and secure in their carrier is crucial. For more detailed information about preparing your pet for flight, refer to this helpful guide on flying a cat.

Alternatives To Shipping Your Cat as Airline Cargo

If, after weighing the pros and cons, you’re unsure about whether should you ship your cat as airline cargo, consider the alternatives. Ground transportation services, such as CitizenShipper, offer door-to-door service, reducing the stress on both you and your cat.

Assessing Your Cat’s Suitability for Airline Cargo Travel

Deciding should you ship your cat as airline cargo requires careful consideration of your cat’s personality and health. Cats that are calm, adaptable, and in good health can typically handle the experience of cargo travel. However, kittens, elderly cats, or cats with health issues might find the experience more stressful.

Consulting with your vet is essential in assessing whether your cat is a suitable candidate for airline cargo travel. They can provide advice based on their understanding of your cat’s health and temperament. They may also recommend calming remedies or treatments if necessary.

Additionally, consider your cat’s breed when making your decision. Some breeds, particularly those with brachycephalic (flat-faced) features, such as Persians or Himalayans, can struggle with air travel due to potential breathing difficulties.

While cargo travel might be a viable option for some cats, it’s not for all. If you’re unsure, there are alternatives available that can make your pet’s travel experience less stressful.

One of these alternatives is ground pet transportation services like CitizenShipper. They provide a more personalized service, with experienced drivers handling pets, ensuring your cat’s comfort throughout the journey. This can be an excellent alternative for pets who might not be suited to airline cargo travel.

Regulations and Requirements for Shipping Your Cat as Airline Cargo

Knowing what to expect when shipping your cat as airline cargo is key to a smooth process. Airlines have specific regulations and requirements to ensure the safety and well-being of pets. Here’s a closer look at what you need to know.

Carrier Requirements

Airlines have stringent carrier requirements. Generally, carriers must be secure, well-ventilated, and large enough for the cat to stand, turn around, and lie comfortably. It should also have a waterproof bottom, and you should include absorbent material inside.

Health Certificates

Many airlines require a health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian within a certain timeframe before travel. This document certifies that the cat is healthy enough for air travel. It’s crucial to check the specific airline’s requirements regarding this certificate’s validity, as they can vary.

Feed and Water Instructions

You should provide written instructions for food and water. Usually, airlines require you not to feed your cat four hours before the flight. However, water should always be available. Attach the feeding and watering schedule to the carrier, and tape a small bag of food outside it in case of delays.


Proper labeling on the carrier is crucial. Besides the usual “Live Animal” sticker, include your contact information and a photo of your cat. Also, specify the cat’s name, so airline staff can talk to them by name, which can be comforting.

Booking and Check-In

It’s best to book your cat’s cargo spot directly with the airline. Some airlines restrict the number of pets allowed per flight, so early booking is advisable. Check-in usually happens at the airline’s cargo facility.

Remember that every airline has its policies and procedures for shipping pets as cargo. Always confirm the details with the airline before your travel date. And if you’re looking for an alternative, consider a specialized pet transportation service like CitizenShipper, which offers a less stressful experience for your feline friend.


What Is the Process of Shipping My Cat as Airline Cargo?

Your cat will be placed in a climate-controlled and pressurized cargo hold for the duration of the flight. It’s separate from the passenger cabin.

Are There Any Risks Involved in Shipping My Cat as Airline Cargo?

Yes, potential risks include exposure to loud noises and stress due to the inability to monitor your cat during the flight. Weather restrictions can also affect your cat’s ability to fly in the cargo hold.

What Alternatives Are There To Shipping My Cat as Airline Cargo?

One alternative is ground transportation services like CitizenShipper, which offer door-to-door service, reducing stress for both you and your cat.

How Can I Prepare My Cat for Airline Cargo Travel?

Start by ensuring your cat is comfortable with their carrier. Introduce the carrier well before the trip and create positive associations with it. For more tips, refer to our guide on flying a cat. Remember, it’s essential to consider all options and choose what’s best for your cat’s well-being. Whether it’s shipping your cat as airline cargo or opting for a ground transportation service like CitizenShipper, the comfort and safety of your cat should be the top priority.

Conclusion: Should You Ship Your Cat as Airline Cargo?

Ultimately, the decision to ship your cat as airline cargo depends on various factors, including your cat’s temperament, health status, and the specific airline’s regulations. Considering all these elements, you can make the best decision for your feline friend’s comfort and safety.