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What is It Like Travelling With a Cat Abroad on the Plane?


I just came back from my third visit to South Korea. I was there visiting my wife’s family, however this was for the two of us the first time bring our pet cat Coco with us. In this post I’ll tell you all about my experience travelling both on international and domestic flights with our cat Coco. I’ll also touch on the topic of how our time was with her along with us.

Things To Get Done Before Travelling With Your Cat

First of all you’ll need to do your research when looking for flights. At this stage you’ll have to investigate on which airlines accept pets to travel with you. In our case we opted for Lufthansa. On a completely unrelated topic, one of the worst travel experiences of my life, but that is a story for another post.

Our itinerary saw us departing Rome international airport on the 26th of May and returning to Italy on the 10th of July. For each direction we paid an extra of 110 Euros to Lufthansa to bring our cat along with us, for a total of 220 Euro.

You can’t book this service online, you’ll have to book it separately over the phone. So call in advance to make sure there is pet space availability on the flights you are looking at before booking.

Although you book this service at the moment of booking your flight, you will only pay for it once you are at the airport. So make sure to have a valid credit card with you when departing on both legs of your trip.

Next you need to get your pet a microchip and a passport, if you haven’t already. Also check if there are any compulsory vaccinations and blood test the pet needs to undertake for your destination country.

Coco the cat in her airplane transport bag

What You Need To Buy For The Plane Trip

If you are travelling with a cat on the plane, just as we did, you’ll need to get a few necessary items. First of all comes a transport bag, however do make sure that it matches the requirements of the airline you will travel with. There are dimensions which must be adhered to.

Although your cat will most probably won’t be in the mood for eating and socialising during the flight, bringing their favourite cream can help them calm down in the most stressful portions of the airplane trip.

Also bright some absorbing pads and wet wipes to clean up any pee or poop they might do in the transport. In our case our cat didn’t do any of that on all 4 legs of our trip.

Also make sure to have enough food for them, if you are connecting, in case you miss your connection. It might just happen for some airline error, just as it happened to us.

How Did Our Cat Adapt Abroad?

Although our cat generally adapts well when we move around with it, this trip I have to admit was particularly uncomfortable for her. Particularly because our cat Coco has long fur and does not fit well in the hot humid Korean summer.

Also during the flight itself she was fine for the first 8/9 hours out of the 14 total. The last 5/6 hours of each leg were very very tough for her and my wife and I.

Coco travelling abroad in South Korea

We struggled to keep her calm and she complained quite a bit. I’m 100% sure that passengers around us heard her very clearly. We took her to the toilet a number of times to get her to stretch her legs, but the crew eventually didn’t allows to do so after a few visits to the lavatory. All that they allowed us to do is keep her on the floor under the seat in front of us.

When in Korea we stayed in 2 different locations and although we brought along scratchers, her toys and even her favourite pillow she struggled to adapt and looked often uncomfortable and out of place.

Food was also a problem, putting aside the extremely high cost of cat food in Korea compared with Italy, it wasn’t easy to find food she would enjoy eating.

Coco is used to eating beef or veal based cat food in Italy, while in Korea this is very difficult to come by.

So how did our cat adapt abroad? Not that well. It wasn’t easy for her and in turn we didn’t enjoy our time at the fullest.

Would I advise You Travelling Abroad With Your Cat?

My advice is if your flight is not too long and your cat is well travel trained you can give it a try. However keep in mind that travelling, both on the place and staying at your final destination, with your cat will be a lot of work and is overall quite expensive.

It is likely that you will end up paying more to bring your cat with you than it would cost you to get someone to look after it during your stay away from home. So if cost is your main drive to bring your cat with you, do your calculations very well.

Me and Coco the cat on the plane

Personally I am very likely not to bring my cat with me next time I travel to Korea. Coco suffered a lot during the entire trip, so much that she even lost fur from the stress on one of her legs. I would much rather have someone take care of her so that she doesn’t suffer and my wife and I can enjoy more our time with family.

Our trip is simply too long, especially with a stopover, as was the case in this trip. For something shorter not over a total of 10 hours from door to door it can work. But keep in mind it’ll be tough on your cat the entire time you are away from their natural habitat.

Coco went back to her normal self immediately when we arrived home at the end of our trip, underlining even more how uncomfortable she had been during this long 50 day trip.