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How Much Will It Cost to Ship My Cat? (2023 Update)

cat in cat carrier
Image Credit: SpeedKingz, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams

When planning to move to a new distant town or getting a cat home from a breeder or rescue in another state, shipping your cat may be the only way to go. You have a few choices when it comes to shipping a cat since it can be done via air, land, or a pet shipping company. In most of these cases, you’ll need to find someone to either transport your cat to the airport or pick your pet up at a certain location.

Depending on what way you decide to go, shipping a cat can cost anywhere from a hundred dollars to thousands. Continue reading to learn more about shipping costs for a cat, as well as some other pertinent information on the topic.

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The Importance of Shipping Your Cat Safely

cat in plastic pet carrier
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

The entire process of shipping your cat must go as smoothly as possible with no big hiccups in the plan from the minute you drop your cat off until he’s picked up at the end of the journey. It’s perfectly natural to feel anxious about shipping your cat because you certainly want the trip to go quickly, comfortably, and as stress-free as possible.

The key to making the whole shipping process unfold as planned is to do some pre-shipment work. You should do things like make sure you have plenty of cat food on hand, some pee pads for your cat to use if he needs to relieve himself, and all the paperwork required for the trip.

It’s a good idea to have your cat checked over by a veterinarian to ensure he’s up for the trip. Inform the vet that your cat is about to embark on a big journey and ask for some travel tips.

Your vet may suggest following a certain diet before the trip to ensure your cat doesn’t get an upset stomach while traveling. It’s also possible that your vet may prescribe a sedative or suggest you use a calming spray to help your cat cope with the travel.

While you’re at the vet, ask for a pet health certificate that may be needed to ship your cat across state lines. This certificate indicates that your cat is fit for travel and does not show any signs of diseases that can be passed on to other animals or people.

How Much Does Shipping a Cat Cost?

As stated earlier, the cost you’ll have to pay for transporting your cat will vary depending on what mode of transportation you decide to go. The cost may also vary according to how long the trip will be and the length of time it will take for your cat to arrive at your destination of choice. Below we’ll break down the different modes of transportation you can choose from and the cost associated with each so that you have a good idea of how much it will cost you.

All the cost estimates below are based on domestic shipping in the continental US. Naturally, the costs are much higher to ship a cat internationally, plus the whole process is more complicated.

Shipping Your Cat by Air

cat inside carrier beside luggage
Image Credit: Monika-Wisniewska, Shutterstock

Most of the major airlines have similar pet transportation policies and costs. Cats are welcome onboard most airlines and can be transported in an airline-approved cat carrier that fits under the seat in the cabin. This is a more affordable option when it comes to shipping a cat via an airline, although you may have to pay someone to travel with your cat. Shipping a cat via the passenger area of a plane costs anywhere from $60–$150, depending on the airline you use.

The more expensive option is shipping your cat in the cargo area of the plane. Depending on what airline you use, the cost can be anywhere from $200–$300. On top of that, you may also have to hire someone to pick your cat up at the airport at the final destination.

Shipping Your Cat by Ground

Many cat owners feel better knowing their cats are moving on the ground. These days, it’s easy to find companies in the United States that offer ground transportation services for pets like dogs and cats. These are typically door-to-door services and are climate controlled to ensure the animals are comfortable during transport.

It can cost as little as $1,000 to ship a cat via ground transportation for a shorter day trip and as much as $6,000 for a cross-country journey.  If you choose ground transportation for a cross-country trip for your cat, you may be charged extra for a few overnight stays in pet hotels.

While ground transportation isn’t the cheapest option, it is a viable choice if you can’t find anyone to fly with your cat or if you simply don’t want your cat traveling on a jet. The price of ground transportation can vary depending on the real-time fuel costs, the distance of the trip, and administration fees.

Additional Costs to Anticipate

cat examined by Vets
Image Credit: Kzenon, Shutterstock

It costs around $100 to pay for a vet checkup that comes with a cat health certificate, so you should plan on putting aside some money to cover this cost. If you don’t have a good cat carrier, one of those will cost you around $40, and disposable pee pads to use inside the carrier cost about $17 for a pack of 20. If you must hire someone to travel with your cat or to pick your cat up from its final destination, plan on spending at least $100, depending on what your demands are.

How Far Can a Cat Be Shipped?

Certainly, you want to get your cat from point A to point B as quickly and comfortably as possible. If you are shipping your cat via air, most airlines put a cap on how long pets can travel on their flights which is around 12 hours.

If you will be using ground transport, you’ll have to work directly with the company you choose to ensure your cat makes it to your destination as quickly and comfortably as possible. If you’ll be transporting your cat by ground across the country, make sure you use a roomy and comfy pet carrier with plenty of food, treats, and pee pads.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Cat Shipments?

cat in cat carrier
Image Credit: zossia, Shutterstock

Most pet insurance companies don’t offer coverage for cat shipments in their policies. However, if you’re using a pet transportation service that transports cats via vans or pet taxis, the company will likely offer some travel insurance that can cost $100–$200 per trip.

Even if that amount seems high, it’s worth it as you’ll have insurance in case something happens. Some issues that could occur with a cat during travel include unexpected injuries, heat stroke, hypothermia, and motion sickness. If you have trip insurance coverage for your cat, the costs associated with treating your pet for these issues would be covered in full.

What to Do to Make the Trip Comfortable for Your Cat

Cats don’t like to travel, unlike dogs that usually love it. This means that your cat is likely to feel some stress during the upcoming trip. On top of buying a comfortable cat carrier to use, also make sure your cat has his favorite food along on the trip, some special treats he loves, and a favorite toy or blanket he likes to cuddle with.

Don’t neglect to take your cat to the vet to get a checkup and health certificate. Even if you think your cat is healthy and fit for travel, he may be suffering from something uncomfortable that you can’t see, such as a urinary tract problem that makes it hard to pee.

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Even though cats aren’t fond of travel, sometimes you are left with no options other than shipping your cat from one location to another. While it costs money to ship a cat via an airline or ground transportation, it’s a cost you’ll have to incur so plan ahead and do some budgeting! If all goes along as planned, your beloved cat will travel like a pro and do just fine when he arrives at his final destination!

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Featured Image Credit: SpeedKingz, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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