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Traveling or Moving with You Cat

Kerilee N.
Traveling or Moving with You Cat

So, you’ve received the opportunity to live in a different city or a different country. You’re really excited about it because you’ve been wanting a new change or a new job or simply a new place, and it’s finally happening! Everything is sorted and organized and ready to go. You know when you’re going to leave, and you’re filled with excitement at all the new prospects coming up. But, then you realize with a sinking feeling, what about your cat? Your cuddly, lovable, wants-to-always-be-with-you cat?

Transporting pets can be one of the more stressful things about the logistics of moving to a new location, especially if you’re moving internationally. Think paperwork, vaccines, and money, money, money. But, if you’re anything like me, and you’ve adopted a little furry friend to be a part of your life, then come with you they must! And come with you they CAN. You just must know where to look. Before we begin, just know, that people do this ALL the time. It’s not weird, and it’s not unusual. There are companies out there solely in place to assist with helping people move their pets. So, do not lose hope!

Where do I begin?

Just getting started can be the hardest part of the process. For myself, I get stressed simply because I don’t know where to look or who to ask or even what to ask! It can be a little overwhelming. But, it is possible. First, let’s take a look at all the things you need to consider when transporting an animal:

  1. Where are you going? If you’re driving or flying, it affects the company, the price, the requirements, and everything else!
  2. Vaccination information. What your cat needs to get done before they go is dependent on the destination.
  3. Pet carrier. If you’re driving, you can choose your own pet carrier, but if you’re flying or sending the cat with a company, they will need their own pet carrier that is appropriate for the journey.
  4. Paperwork. There will be some paperwork that will need to be done, and the amount will depend on your destination, so keep that in mind when planning out a time schedule for transporting your pet!
  5. Price. The price can vary considerably depending on where you go, how you go, and if you accompany your cat, or not. So, you may need to save up for this event!
  6. Timing. Make sure you have planned out your move and completed all your cat’s moving requirements within enough time of their departure date!
  7. Quarantine. Again, depending on your location, your pet could be looking at some time in quarantine once they arrive in your new destination!

*To start off, check out the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association.

Their website is chock full of useful information along with contacts for different companies depending on your pet, your new destination, and the style of transport you would like to use.


The location will greatly affect the price and process of transporting your cat. If you are driving or flying within your own country, it will be cheaper, but if you are flying internationally, it will be much more expensive. Also, you need to figure out if you will be flying with your pet or sending them with a company, which will also affect the price.

Location will also affect the requirements necessary to officially move your cat into a new location. If moving between US states, take a look at state requirements here. The paperwork and the vaccinations your cat needs will vary from place to place, just like when people travel from new country to new country. Think of it like your cat getting a visa. (Note: most locations require a rabies vaccination, especially rabies-free countries, such as New Zealand).

Location will also affect the timing it takes to prepare for such a move. Some countries such as Australia have a longer/stricter list of requirements, so you need to make sure you begin preparations months ahead of the time you’re leaving. AND, there is not really one go-to source to find all the information necessary for your location, so therefore it can be smart to let a company assist you in the move since there can sometimes be complications.


Recently, more and more places are requiring pets to have microchips because it’s a great way to keep track of them and who their owners are in case there is any sort of mix up. Before traveling, check to see if your new place requires a microchip. But, even if they don’t, it’s still a good idea anyway, in case something would happen during travel or after they’ve moved to their new home.

Pet carriers

Your cat will need to travel in a specialized pet carrier that’s appropriate for the cat’s height and weight as well as giving them enough space during travel. The company you choose can help you select the correct carrier for your pet., but you can also check here!

Tip: It is unbelievably stressful for your pet to travel in a strange machine alone and be apart from you for a long time. So, it’s a good idea to acclimate your cat to the pet carrier beforehand, same as you would when preparing for a visit to the vet. Put things inside that they’re comfortable with, give them time to sit in it, explore it, and bring their own scent to it. That can help abate some of the stress of moving.

Price range: Are you accompanying your cat or not?

Of course, if you’re simply driving your cat to another state or another province in the same country, that will of course be cheaper and easier. And if you fly on the same plane as your pet to a new country, that will also be cheaper and somewhat easier. So, you need to decide what you can do. The price changes dramatically depending on how far your pet needs to go and if you’re along for the ride or not! No transportation option will be cheaper than you doing it yourself. You could be paying anywhere between $500-5,000 dollars to transport your pet. Companies will range in price but be sure to check their reviews and the questions they ask about your cat to make sure your cat will be getting the best of care while traveling with the company.

Choices of transportation for your cat


Driving will be the easiest option if in the US or Canada. If you decide to do it yourself, then that’s even easier! But, it’s possible it could be more expensive than flying because you’d be paying someone for the number of hours they need to drive your cat. You can get your cat a carrier to spend their journey in as well as a litter box. Or, if you think your cat will be at ease being out of the carrier, you can leave it open and let him/her wander around the vehicle at their will. This may reduce their stress level if they can be near you. And, you can even invest in a leash to take your cat outside to play or go to the bathroom when at a rest stop! This is by far the easiest/cheapest option.

But, let’s say you’re going on ahead to the location to sort out your housing, etc. and want to send your cat at a later time. You can hire a company to handle everything for you. Good companies will provide door-to-door service and will inform you about everything along the way! Good companies should also ask you about your cat’s needs, so that they can provide them with the most relaxing and stress-free traveling experience possible. That way, you can feel comfortable about sending your cat on the journey without you.

Unless you have a cat family, a proper cat transportation company will not have other pets accompanying your pet, so that they can travel with ease to their next destination.

For a great option for a driving pet transportation company, take a look at Royal Paws. All the information you need is on their website, and you can contact them for a price quote and further information!


Flying could also be an easier and quicker option, depending on your timetable. There are plenty of companies that organize flights for pets, and they can help you every step of the way. If you are moving internationally, you will need to send your cat on a flight.

Your cat will usually fly in the cargo hold of commercial airlines that are pet friendly. If you’re taking your pet yourself, you will need to check if the airline you’re booking can transport pets. Then, you will need to purchase a pet carrier (mentioned above) as well as make sure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date. Each country is different, so be sure to do your research on your location beforehand. And the paperwork needed will differ for each location as well. Start by looking here to find information on the import requirements of your destination.

Remember: if you accompany your cat on the plane, it will be a lot cheaper than if you use a company to send the cat to your new location. But, weigh the pros and cons. Sure, it will be cheaper for you to transport the cat yourself, but it will be a lot easier for you to hire a company because they will handle all the tricky requirements and paperwork. (Things will become trickier for international destinations)

To sedate or not to sedate?

Many cat owners go into planning their cat’s move by thinking, “Oh, they’ll just sedate him/her, and they’ll be able to cruise through the journey, no problem.” But, often, companies do not sedate the pets on their journeys for safety reasons. Some airlines will not even accept pets for travel who have been sedated because there have been problems in the past with pet death because the sedative may have on the pet’s heart during the flight. Don’t worry, there is a very minimal chance of something happening to your pet en route. They will be in temperature-controlled cabins, and if you’ve chosen a good, pet-friendly airline, the workers will have been trained on how to handle pets properly.

Do not administer a sedative to your cat yourself. If the company decides to do so, they will handle the sedation process for you. They have been trained to know how much to give for your cat. But, we encourage you to discuss the move and this process with your veterinarian to gauge their opinion on sedatives. That way, you can make an informed choice about which company to use. The cargo hold has been prepared for pet travel, so the pet-friendly airlines have made sure that your pet will be comfortable on their flight. Pets are separated, so that you don’t have dogs mixed with cats, for example, and that will also help to reduce the traveling stress of nervous pets. Many pets may naturally sedate themselves in such an environment which could be the reason for lack of sedative. Find out more information on why many companies do not use or recommend sedative usage for your pet.

Cat Relocation Checklist

So, now that you’ve gotten all your information about transporting your cat to a new location, go through this checklist to make sure you’ve completed everything before your move! Once you know your location, you should begin the research and the moving process right away to make sure you have enough time to complete everything you need to do!

  • Decide your mode of transportation!
  • Research your location’s requirements for vaccinations and paperwork
  • Head to the vet to check your pet’s overall health, receive the vaccinations, and ask questions about anything you’re worried about for the cat’s transition (and get a microchip inserted if you haven’t already!)
  • If you’re not transporting the cat yourself, consult a proper travel company. Check with IPATA for information that could connect you with the company you’d like!
  • Go with the company’s recommendations and order a pet carrier at least a few weeks before the cat’s move
  • Give your cat time to acclimate themselves to the pet carrier.
  • Keep in contact with your company to make sure tickets are booked and paperwork is completed. Be sure to ask them about the quarantine period post-arrival
  • Send your cat on their journey!

Helping Your Cat to Adjust

Traveling is stressful on the body, whether human or animal, and with animals, you can’t explain the process to them, so it’s even more stressful for them! As mentioned above, give your cat the chance to acclimate themselves to their pet carrier. Leave it out for a few weeks before their move. Put in a favorite toy or pillow to encourage them to spend time inside. And, you can add snacks or catnip to encourage them as well.

Once your cat arrives, they will need to clear customs and may need to spend some time in quarantine. Some countries do not require it, but many of them do for varying periods of time.

Helpful Resources links:

  1. This website is absolutely amazing. It covers everything about both US and international transport of your cat! You can find all the answers you’re looking for on this site, and if you can’t, simply contact them for further information.
    Transporting your cat within the UK or to Europe:
  2. This website will give you information on transporting your cat within the UK or to Europe
  3. This website is full of information for international travel and finding contacts for pet transport companies
  4. With this company, you can have your cat driven anywhere in the US/Canada-besides Hawaii of course!)
  5. Here you can have someone fly your cat, and they will control everything! They will take care of all the stressful parts of booking flights, preparing paperwork, and letting you know what vaccinations your cat may need, etc.! This is a great choice if you are unable to fly with your cat. But, they will usually only fly pets either TO or FROM the US.
  6. Request a transport quote through this website to find out how much it will be to travel within the US or internationally!

*Pet Relocation and IPATA are the best sites for finding out more information on commonly asked questions and common concerns about transporting your pet.

Real life story: international pet transport process in action!

My husband and I are in the process of planning a move to Malawi for a new job, and we want to take our cat, Mnumzane, with us.

Now, we have a lot of factors against us:

  • We are flying him from a non-US location (Taiwan) to another non-US location (Malawi), so that can be tricky when looking for companies. Many of them prefer to fly from or to the US. But, we found a company that operates in the region (Singapore), and you could do that as well depending on where you’re departing from.
  • We are coming from a country that doesn’t have a lot of English paperwork. So, we have found some paperwork online through a pet transport company that we will be able to use. For international travel, it’s best to use English paperwork.
  • There is no direct flight to Malawi from Taiwan, so there will need to be a layover and a change to a new flight. We have found a company who will be accompanying him on his trip.
  • We will not be flying with him, and he will need housing for a short time in his new location. We have looked at veterinarians in the area of Malawi where we’ll be living and have been set up with both a vet and a cat hostel where he can stay in the meantime.
  • With all the flights, vaccinations, paperwork, use of an agent, and housing, the price will come to about 4,000 US dollars. This is an extreme case because of the location and the fact that we won’t be able to pick him up right away. Most other pet transport is to closer destinations and people can usually pick up their cat right away.

This story is meant to encourage you! Even though we are going to a farther and more remote location, there are still companies out there who can help us and who can take good care of our cat until we arrive. So, if you’re traveling to a lesser-known area and want to bring your cat, take hope! And if you’re moving somewhere like the US, Canada, or Europe, then it’s totally easy since that’s the more common route taken.

Best of luck to you! And kudos to you for bringing your cat with you wherever you go!

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