best cat carrier for scared cat anxious gray cat

Keeping Your Cat Calm on a Plane

Taking your cat with you when you travel can be tough, but being prepared with the right cat calming products and the best cat carrier for your cat can help ease the pain.

Alongside moving into a new home, traveling can be one of the most anxiety-producing experiences for your cat. This makes sense if you think about it, as all of their ancestral memories revolve around exploring and hunting quietly. Then suddenly they’re thrust into a new environment surrounded by strange noises and unfamiliar people. Even the calmest cat will find this experience stressful. So, make sure you have all of your cat calming treats and strategies ready ahead of time. 

Cat Calming Products For Your Flight

cat calming treats cat raising paws for cat treats

The whole process of flying is scary enough for your cat. But the situation can be made even worse when you are also stressed because cats can pick up on their owner’s anxiety. So, it is important to remain calm and offer plenty of reassurance. If you have a particularly terrified kitty, there are a range of treatments and medicines available to calm cats for travel:

  • Pheromone spray – you can make use of your cat’s innate reliance on invisible pheromones to help calm them down. While humans are somewhat aware of pheromones around them, they are a primary source of communication for cats (think about why they spray new areas!). You can use this to your advantage by buying a calming pheromone spray to use on your cat carrier. Start spraying a few days before your flight to give your cat a baseline level of calm and to get used to how it makes them feel. 
  • Calming collars – another popular cat calming product is a calming collar. This again uses pheromone technology to activate the calming chemicals in your cat’s brain. Many people choose this option if they’ve bought a carrier and don’t want to potentially ruin it with spray. Another benefit is that the scent will stay with your cat when you take them out for the security line. This will help with their overall anxiety levels throughout your airport journey. 
  • Chewable treats – finally, you can buy edible anxiety medication for cats. It’s a good idea to have plenty of water and cat treats for your flight anyway, but buying some chewable medicine is a great way to keep them calm throughout the flight. They’ll also be reassured by your presence as you feed them. Always make sure you follow the correct dosage guidelines for your cat’s size and age.

Above all, you need to remember that you are not allowed to sedate your cat for a flight unless the medication has been approved and administered by a vet. It’s a long time to be away from medical assistance if anything should go wrong. Incorrect medication can lead to heart and respiratory problems even with one dose, especially if your cat has an underlying medical condition.

How To Choose The Best Cat Carrier For A Scared Cat

Finding the right products to keep your cat calm on your flight is important but it’s also essential to think about how you will transport your cat. A secure cat carrier is a must, as no airline will allow your cat to travel in your arms. However, not all cat carriers are created equal. The best cat carriers for scared cats are made from durable material that will withstand scratching and they are leakproof in case your cat has an accident. Here are some other factors you’ll need to think about:

  • Size – the size of your travel cat carrier will depend on many variables. Firstly, you should check the maximum size allowed by your airline. Bear in mind that this will differ depending on whether your cat is riding in the cabin or in the cargo hold. Within these parameters, you’ll then need to find a cat carrier that is big enough for your feline friend to stand up, stretch and move around in. All of these actions will help to relieve anxiety so try to find the biggest cat carrier that will be allowed onto the plane. 
  • Weight – you also need to think about the weight of the cat carrier. Not only will this impact your ability to take it into the cabin, but you’ve got to be able to carry the carrier through the airport; including check in, security, and onto the plane. If the weight of the cat carrier and the cat itself is too much, you’ll add more stress by stopping and starting rather than getting from place to place quickly. Soft-sided carriers are generally lighter and more comfortable to carry. Hard sided carriers can be bulky but they are more sturdy. 
  • Ventilation and visibility – the final balancing act you’ll need to work out is how much ventilation your cat will need. At the one extreme, hard-sided travel cat carriers only have small slits for ventilation. Conversely, the walls of many soft-sided carriers are predominantly made of mesh so your cat can see more of the world around them. Which model you choose will depend on your cat, as some will like to see where they are at all times, while others would prefer to hide until the whole thing is over. Consider how your cat deals with stress at home as this will give you a good indication as to how much ventilation and visibility you want to provide.

Given the ease of online shopping, it’s a good idea to buy a few different cat carriers to test out with your cat before you travel. You can then return any that your cat doesn’t approve of! Make sure you introduce any new carrier gradually and allow your cat to investigate it in their own time. You can also make it more appealing by adding a soft comfy blanket, your cat’s favorite toy, and a few treats. You want your cat to associate the carrier with positive feelings as much as possible!

Getting Your Cat Ready For Travel

When you have chosen your preferred cat carrier, make sure you only use it when you’re going to fly. If you use the new carrier to take them to the vet, they will associate the stress of the vet visit with flying. Then no amount of pheromone spray will settle them! Once your cat has had time to get used to the carrier, practice using it around the house for a few days. Put your cat into the carrier (or allow them to go in themselves) and then transport them to another room. You can extend this by taking them for a car ride so they get used to the idea of riding in a motorized vehicle. Make sure you do this in stages and go back a step if your cat appears to be getting stressed. 

Finally, make sure that you’re putting the pheromone spray on before you travel and you’ll be able to relax in the knowledge that you’re traveling with the best cat carrier for your scared cat.


Picture of Evelyn Baxter, Writer and Cat Expert

Evelyn Baxter, Writer and Cat Expert

Evelyn is an animal advocate, cat expert, and the proud mom of 2 rescue cats, Sugar, a beautiful fluffy tabby and Beebee, a black, fluffy beauty. Evelyn has studied animal care while volunteering at her local shelter. She loves all animals and wants to share the animal knowledge she has been lucky enough to gain together with knowledge from other experts with cat parents across the world.