How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Cat?

relocating with a cat

Whether you plan on moving abroad or domestically in the US, you probably wonder how much you should budget for your cat's part of the move. It's important to keep in mind that there are many pieces to moving a cat that determines the costs.

Even if you choose not to hire a professional service to organize a safe move plan for your cat, the individual expenses can add up to a hefty price tag. To help give you a better idea of what to expect with the costs of your cat's move, we've put together some items to remember when budgeting for your travels. 

Attention: The below estimates only provide a general idea of how much it costs to ship a cat without hiring a service provider to help. Involving a service provider or adding various conditions to your move will vary prices. Contact a PetRelocation Consultant here to determine what your cat's move will cost with our services.

Travel Crate
Veterinary Services 
Airline Tickets and Fees
Ground Transportation and Pet Taxis 
Government Endorsements 
Import Permits
Custom Clearance 
DIY vs. Hiring a Professional 

Expenses for Domestic and International Cat Shipping

Travel Crate

Is your pet traveling in-cabin or in the cargo hold? Either way, you must purchase a kennel that meets the airlines' requirements. We have some tips and tricks for finding the right kennel for your cat for cargo travel on this page.

Research the costs of travel crates beforehand, and don't forget to purchase two water bowls to attach to the door!

Example Estimate: A medium PetMate Sky Kennel, what most airlines consider to be the best size for cats traveling in cargo, can cost anywhere between $50 USD and $200 USD.

Finley moved to Australia with our assistance. 


Vet Visits

The amount you'll need to spend at the veterinarian depends significantly on where you travel. If you are flying across the country, a simple health check and general vaccinations will be all you need. However, some destinations will require blood tests, like a Titer test, a veterinarian must perform that with USDA accreditation. Titer tests and other possibly required blood work can cost hundreds of dollars. Read the pet import requirements for your destination and discuss the process, including the related costs, with your vet.

Example Estimate: Vet costs will vary greatly. We've seen a simple health certificate for domestic travel range from $75 to $200. However, the more complicated the import requirements and the more pets you have, expect the costs to rise. We have seen international health certificates and required vaccinations come up to $1,200 for one pet for destinations like Singapore

Airline Ticket and Fees

The majority of your cat's move budget will fall under airfare costs. Because pets require extra care and attention throughout thePiglet the cat was shipped to the Netherlands ir journey, airlines' rates for live animals are often more expensive than regular passenger ticket prices. For cargo specifically, most airlines base the ticket pricing for pets on the volume of the travel crate and/or the pet's weight with the travel crate.

Additionally, you must consider how the costs will be affected if your cat's routing requires a layover. Layovers for pets that last more than a few hours can add additional fees, which ensure they are well looked after at an animal lounge until they are put on the next flight. While you may be able to jump on a discount flight to your destination without worrying about routing or stops, pets have to be carefully routed to ensure they're only flying in and out of airports that have pet-friendly airlines.

Lastly, it is important to note that some airlines will not allow you to book directly with them to fly your cat internationally to some countries. Instead, you'll be required to hire a pet-shipping company with an airline account. This is because they want assurance that the import procedures and paperwork were completed correctly to avoid penalties or fees.

Example Estimate: The cost of flying your cat as manifest cargo will depend greatly on the destination. The cost of flying one small cat domestically as manifest cargo will likely range between $275 to $300. However, the further the destination, the more the rate will increase. For example, flying a typical house cat to Australia may be closer to $1,000. 

Other Transport Services

Ground Transportation 

If you're moving with your pet within the continental United States, ground transportation may need to be an option you consider. Due to COVID-19, there are not as many airlines accepting pets as there previously were. 

Example Estimate: The cost of ground transportation when needed will vary based on the length of the journey.  PetRelocation's ground transportation rates start at $2200 - $2400 for a 10-hour drive and increase to around $6000 - $6400 for a cross-country journey.

Pet Taxi 

Considering that your cat's travels may not align with your travel plans, looking into hiring services to transport your cat to and from the airport may be a good idea. Hiring a professional pet taxi or driver with a climate-controlled vehicle may not be as inexpensive as you consider the time spent on the drive, the distances traveled, fuel costs and traffic.

Also, if you plan on having someone check in your cat at the airport, it may take a few hours to ensure that all of the paperwork is in order and that your cat is weighed and prepped for departure.

Example Estimate: Animal transportation costs vary based on the city, distance from the airport, number of pets, and time of day the travel takes place. The transport of one cat in a major US city (like New York) during regular business hours to an airport within 10 miles of your home may cost you up to $275 USD.

Additional International Expenses

Government Approvals or Endorsements

Depending on where you are moving, you may need to take your cat's veterinary paperwork to get government approval or endorsement before travel. Some countries even require multiple endorsements, such as Consular and USDA.

Again, knowing the rules for importing a cat to your destination is important.

Example Estimate: USDA endorsement fees can be found on their website here . If your cat does not require blood tests, your endorsement fee may be as low as $38. However, if your destination country requires blood tests, the cost will be raised to $121, along with additional fees for each pet. Keep in mind that this does not include the time spent to book and attend an in-person appointment or the cost of mailing in paperwork to be endorsed.

layla the cat was shipped to the UK
Layla moved to the UK with our help


Import Permits

Some countries will only allow pets to enter with an import permit. As you can imagine, getting formal approval from the government to bring your pet overseas can often come at quite a price.

If your destination requires an import permit, try looking for these fees on that country's government website.

Example Estimate: The fees for obtaining an import permit for a pet going to Australia can be found on the DAFF website here. For just one cat, the import permit fees will cost $480 AUD.

Customs Clearance

Once your cat arrives, clearance steps need to be taken. These can include brokers, taxes, tariffs, and other country-specific fees that need to be paid for your cat to be released to you.

Most airlines will gladly share any of these customs fees with you when you book your cat's flight. If that's not the case, check your destination country's government website to see if any customs fees are indicated there.

Example Estimate: New Zealand’s governing body over pet imports, MPI, lists their border clearance charges on their website here. Depending on the country your cat is traveling from, this fee can range anywhere between $28.19 NZD (fixed) to $186.30 NZD (hourly).


If you're moving to a country requiring a quarantine period, like New Zealand, Singapore, or Malaysia, you must consider the fees required to keep your pet at the quarantine facility. Remember that these facilities offer more than just accommodations for your pet. They provide food, outdoor time or walks, and medical care if needed.

Example Estimate: The quarantine fees for pets moving to Singapore can be found on the AVA website here. In short, it will cost at least $242 SGD (roughly $200 USD) for a cat to stay in quarantine for 10 days (the typical minimum period for pets).

DIY vs. Hiring Professionals

While some people choose to handle their pet moves independently, many owners eventually decide to have a service organize it all. Managing the costs and logistics of a pet move can be complicated and stressful, so hiring an all-in-one service relieves most. Hiring a pet shipping professional to arrange your pet's move is more expensive, but since the pet pros will be managing your cat's move, you have one less thing to worry about! 

Don't just take our word for it! Here is some insight from other pet owners who are happy they sought PetRelocation's assistance with their cat's travels:

"The first time I was trying to figure out how to move Charlie and Chloe by myself, I found you, and everything fell into place so seamlessly." Read More

"We made the decision to use a pet relocation agency very late in our travel planning process due to misinformation from the airline. With 10 days to move our cat, Cosmo, Jon, and Julia were amazing!" Read More

"Moving countries is no easy feat, let alone if you have other precious goods to relocate. But after working with PetRelocation, and specifically Maegan and Linda, I couldn't have been more impressed nor comforted with the entire process. "Read More

"We contacted PetRelo in February, and they guided us through the process. Our biggest concern is the safety of our pets, and later we realized the pets had a much smoother flight than we did!" Read More

Ready to start planning your cat's move? Contact us to discuss your safe pet move options.

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