How to carry a cat on a long journey

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Joel Fulleda

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Animals very attached to their environment, they experience changes and displacements in a particularly stressful way. There can be many reasons why we may be forced to let our friend out of the house.
Let's see how we can move with a cat trying to travel as serene as possible, both us and our four-legged.


  1. Transport by train
  2. Transport by plane
  3. Transport by ship
  4. Transport by car
  5. Advice
  6. User questions and comments

Transport by train

Cats can only travel in the special carrier, with measures not exceeding 70x30x50 cm.
In Italy, they travel for free on trains and in the Executive, Business, Premium and Standard levels. It is admitted, however, only one pet carrier per traveler. It is absolutely forbidden to occupy places intended for others with your pet. If you and your cat annoy other passengers in a harassing way, the staff can make you move or even force you off the train!
No animals are allowed in the dining car (with the obvious exception of guide dogs for the blind). The animal must never remain unattended and the owner is responsible for it.

Transport by plane

In addition to the ticket, you will need to purchase a suitable pet carrier and have a certificate of good health of your cat.
Always ask for precise information from the chosen airline, but indicatively:

  • In the cabin: must be kept in the carrier under the seat in front of you. Cost about 75/95 euros each way. The animal must be able to stand up and turn around and must not give off a bad smell. The bottom of the carrier must be waterproof. He can't get out unless all the passengers and the pilot of the plane agree. The approved and accepted pet carrier generally cannot exceed 46x25x31 cm. The permitted weight must not exceed 6/10 kg in total, including the carrier. Inside a container 3 to 5 animals of the same breed can travel, but always remaining in the maximum weight required.
  • In the hold: travel to a temperature controlled area inside the aircraft. Cost: around 110/150 euros each way.
  • Some airlines, for certain destinations, require certificate of good health and list of vaccines made, issued by an accredited veterinarian. They must be dated 10/20 days before departure.

It goes without saying that at the airport, as well as on the plane, owners are required to respect the rules in force in public places.
Do not leave containers / bowls for food and water at home.
There are special symbols to be placed on your carrier that highlight the transport of live animals, of what type and what their name is.
They are not accepted: animals in heat, pregnant and puppies under 3 months.

The European passport is released by your vet e entitles your pet to travel to all European countries. It serves to declare that it is up to date with vaccinations, especially anti-rabies. It also identifies your friend through a tattoo or a subcutaneous microchip, his personal data and his photograph.
Some nations require quarantine for any anger. Ask the airline.
The states that require more controls are: United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, Sweden.

Transport by ship

The pet carrier is mandatory, but rules and costs vary a lot depending on the company. Find out well before booking.

Transport by car

First of all, remember that your cat must be kept in a pet carrier. It is very important for the safety of all passengers, including the cat. Furthermore, the police sanction the non-compliance with the rule with a fine of up to 311 euros, with the loss of 1 point from the driving license.
Cats very often suffer from motion sickness, especially in the warm seasons.

Do not keep it in the sun and, in the case of long journeys, ask your vet for help. If possible, leave early in the morning or late at night. Never feed your cat immediately before departure.


  • Cats are not stuffed animals. Try to be patient: you know where you are going, how and why. They don't.
  • Just as many people suffer from seasickness / car / public transport sickness, so too can animals. Be understanding.
  • Always have at hand: water, food, toys and specific medicines.
  • Try to get your pets used to traveling since they are puppies.
  • Try it out. If you find that your cat can't stand moving and / or is really sick, ask your vet for advice. If necessary, he can prescribe specific drugs. A good idea is to have him take short car trips for several weeks before departure.
  • "Rescue Remedy" (Bach flowers) can help you manage fear and stress. Just a few drops in his water or one directly in his mouth before leaving if he is visibly agitated. This treatment is preferable to sedatives: they do not numb him, but make him calm and confident. For more information consult your veterinarian.
  • It is useful to spray the inside of the carrier and the car with Feliway, 20 minutes before departure. By mimicking the pheromones released by cats at ease, it will calm the cat. However, test this product first. A small minority interprets this as marking another cat and, as a result, yours may have a negative / aggressive reaction.
  • Chances are you won't want / need to use the litter box until you stop for a while. In any case, make the bottom of the carrier waterproof and cleanable, you never know ...
  • Allow the cat to stretch. A harness and a leash will be very useful.
  • Don't crank up the air conditioning and radio volume too much - they might scare him. The sweeter the music, the more calming it affects animals.
  • Airlines don't accept sedated pets because it's hard to tell if they're sick. He must be calm, but aware!
  • Don't forget the scratching post! Cats need to scratch, for reasons of instinct and movement. For this they can use what they see fit in a new environment.
  • Beware of dyspnea! It is a breathing difficulty caused by numerous pathologies, but it can also be frequent in case of strong stress, such as during travel or travel, and / or excessive heat. If this happens, leave him as quiet as possible and call the vet: he will know how to act and reassure you and the cat.

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