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Need advice regarding travelling international with my cat

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I am moving to Europe and will take my cat with me. My vet suggested I should take her with me on the plane in a soft carrier. I am worried that she will be very agitated and meowing all the time. What if she need to use the litter box? How to feed her? The trip will take almost 24 hours. Did anyone go through this? Any advice will be helpful.
post #2 of 19
Talk to a pet carrying company, they are usually very helpful even if you don't plan to use them. Call the airline as well and talk to them, they should be able to answer questions.

I believe cats generally travel well, and once they're in the air and they realise they can't go anywhere, they just settle down and sleep. Don't use sleeping pills or tranquilisers or anything like that because they don't last long, and you just end up with the kitty waking up partway through the flight very groggy and unsure of what's going on.

And what do you mean by a soft carrier? Do you mean as carry on luggage?? I believe you need a hard airline approved crate and your kitty will need to be checked in and will go underneath the plane with the other luggage. Pets travel often and do well

Here's a link to frequently asked questions from an Australian pet transport company.
post #3 of 19
Some airlines (United is one) do allow cats as cabin baggage, but in a hard carrier. Make sure you have all the documentation done and are up to date on shots including rabies and blood tests well in advance. You can find info ont he European Union website if you need to.
post #4 of 19
Also speak to your vet, because he may suggest a very mild tranquilizer for her to take at least for the initial part of the trip til she's used to being there. It worked for our cats (only a 3 hr trip, but they were much less agitated I think, busy airport and all, than they would have been otherwise).
post #5 of 19
Please contact the airline. most American ones now require you to book the cat well in advance since only two are allowed on any flight.

You will have to take the cat out of the carrier once it is in the airport since it can't go through an x ray machine. Be sure it has a harness and a leash.

YOu did not say which European country you are moving to. If it's the Continent, all will be well. If it's England, the cat will have to spend six months in quarantine.

The cat carrier must fit under the seat in front of you. Most hard carriers are very large; be sure to get one that is designed for airline travel.

Lastly NEVER TRANQUILIZE YOUR CAT. It will be fine in the carrier. Don't feed or water it before the trip and let it use the box before you put it in the carrier. If you have a stopover there are small portable cat boxes (Swheat Scoop makes a disposable one) that you can let your pet use. But don't feed it! lest it vomit and choke.

There are other websites that can give you more advice on traveling internationally with a cat.

Lastly, be sure you have all of the cat's medical records since you will need them to be able to get it into a country in the EU.

Good luck with your move!
post #6 of 19
Gizmocat - We've used the tranqs at various (not many) times over years of dealing with cat moves and a couple of other necessary situations. We've never had a problem yet, but we have had cats who were calm and relaxed at stressful times. What are you so adamant about (with no real explanation)? I'm not advocating sedation, just a bit of whatever the vet advises that wears off in a few hrs) to help them along.
post #7 of 19
All the advise above is sound and yes, the UK does require a six month quarantine if you are not on the EU pet passport program - I'm not too sure about the rest of Europe.

Having travelled around Asia with my show cats, though admittedly for less than 8 hours max on the plane I can advise you of the following:

1. Hard carriers a little bit bigger than your cat, tall enough for the cat to stand up and wide enough for your cat to move around, airline approved.
2. Get a bunny water bottle and fill it up with your cat's usual drinking water.
3. Do not put your cat's usual bedding in the carrier - a cloth towel will do. And then line the carrier with disposable liners or you can buy disposable cardboard litter pans which can fit in the carrier.
4. A hang on food container. If the flight and transfers do take 24 hours your cat will need something to eat. Kibble is preferable.

I've no comment on sedation, I've never had a need to sedate my cats!

I hope this helps!
post #8 of 19
Maybe your cats were just lucky, but most of the pet deaths in transit are caused by tranquilizers--the animal often chokes on its own vomit or its heart is affected by the dose. There is a tremendous amount of information on the web about the deletrious effect of tranquilizers.

I've never sent a pet overseas, but know folks who traveled shorter distances and did not use tranquilizers--and that is the way my cat will travel when we move.
post #9 of 19
Here is some information about the deletrious effects of animal tranquilizers:

Considerations: All airlines require a health certificate within
a specified time period (usually 10 days) prior to the flight.
You should also contact the airline to inquire whether they
have any weight, age, or other restrictions. Certain airlines
may allow small animals who can fit in a carrier under the seat
in front of you in the cabin. If you are traveling with a cat or
small dog that meets these requirements, choose a carrier that
will allow you to bring your pet with you in the cabin.
The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends
that tranquilizers not be used because at high altitudes, the
chances of respiratory and cardiovascular problems rise for sedated
or tranquilized dogs and cats.Also, in case your pet is misplaced, you should leave 24-hour
instructions on the carrier for feeding, watering and medicating
your pet. Food and water dishes must be securely attached
and be accessible without opening the kennel.
When and where to fly with your companion Consider traveling
during off-peak days, and avoid travel during holidays,
peak hours, and hot summer days. Take only direct flights to
your destination, as layovers will increase the risk that your
pet may be lost, or worse. Government agencies and several
humane organizations
recommend not flying
animals when the air
temperature is above 85
degrees, and many airlines
strictly enforce this policy.
You should also visit IPATA, which is a professional company specializing in animal transport. Here is a quote from their website:

Overall, IPATA strongly supports air as the safest and most humane mode of transport for pets and cautions that, although the pet owner may encounter many airline restrictions, he must realize that the rules exist for the safety and well-being of the animal rather than for the owner’s convenience. Because pet transportation policies vary greatly from airline to airline, an owner must do thorough research before selecting an airline. Indeed, some carriers specialize in pet transportation and have superior policies and handling programs in place.

Dr. Walter Woolf, a Tampa, Florida veterinarian with many years of experience in the pet travel industry, suggests the following guidelines to those planning to transport a pet by air:

Take time to prepare the pet for air travel with pre-flight conditioning to its kennel/crate.

Make sure that the pet’s flight kennel provides ample room for the animal to stand, turn around and lie down comfortably.

At all costs, avoid tranquilizers and sedatives, as these potent drugs can have adverse effects on pets at flight altitudes.

Reduce a pet’s solid food intake four to six hours prior to the flight.

To avoid onboard dehydration, encourage pre-flight water consumption by the pet.

Dr. Woolf further suggests that “Following these rules can serve to reduce the incidences of pet loss, injury and death. We’d all like to see zeroes in the next DOT report and in every one thereafter.”

Formed in 1979, the Independent Pet and Animal Transportation Association International, Inc. is a worldwide network of professionals who are actively involved with shipping family pets by air. IPATA supports air travel for pets as accompanied baggage and through the cargo system as being the safest, most expedient and humane means of moving animals throughout the United States and around the world.

Contact: Gale Young, IPATA President / Telephone: +1-508-335-9474
post #10 of 19
We moved three times with our two cats (2000+ miles each time). The last trip was international and it was 20 hours from (old) door to (new) door. We did not sedate them; we were told it was dangerous and they were/are older cats. I made very thick 100% wool pads out of old sweaters for their carriers. If they would have peed, they still would have a dry place to lie on because of the wool. It's also cushy and warm.

They did fine, even the last trip where they were in their carriers for 20 hours. (I'm glad we don't have to do it again, though.) Each time our kitties ceased all bodily functions during the trip, were quiet, and wanted nothing to eat or drink until they were at their new home.

Be prepared to take your kitty out of the carrier and walk her through security. We thought we would be able to walk through with the carrier, so my husband went first with our young daughter and they wouldn't let him come back to help me. Fortunately, the man behind me was very nice and offered to walk through with our second kitty. It was traumatic for her because she was extremely shy and a stranger was holding her! But she was very still and quiet, and didn't wiggle free and dash into the airport as I feared.

We used soft-sided carriers that were tall enough for them to stand up in (which they didn't), but the top could fold down for putting under the seat. I held my kitty in the carrier in my lap most of the flight(s) and stuck my hand in and petted and talked to her. Each time we chose an airline that allowed two cats in the cabin. The carriers had to be soft-sided and able to fit under the seat in front. I really wanted the kitties with us during the flight and not in the cargo hold.

I don't know about quarantines but feel free to PM me if you want.

Cheers, from

p.s. This may sound dumb but explain to your kitty what's going to happen before you go.
post #11 of 19
The wool pads are a terrific idea. That would be good even for automobile transit in a carrier.
post #12 of 19
FYI, Britain, Ireland and Sweden are the only European countries that require quarantine on arrival. Other EU countries require specific paperwork (forms obtainable through embassies and consulates) that show that the cat has all its jabs up to date and a certified blood test that proves rabies immunity. The blood test must be done one month after a rabies vaccination and then the cat cannot travel for a further three months.
post #13 of 19
I haven't read the whole thread, but I'd like to say PLEASE don't have your cat shipped in the cargo hold. They are treated much the same way as your luggage is, and the airlines aren't liable for much if your pet dies en route.

I believe if you carry your cat on board the plane, they require a soft carrier, not a hard one. I have friends who recently took their cat to Germany from the US, and they had to have a soft carrier. Misty made it just fine.

Also, no tranquilizers, especially if you do decide to have her shipped like cargo.
post #14 of 19
In my experience, soft carriers are what the airlines want if you're carrying a pet in the cabin.

My vet recommends filling the bottom of the carrier with shredded newspaper. This seems to work well. The cat usually nestles down in it, and it's helpful if he pees.
post #15 of 19
Originally Posted by Abymummy View Post
All the advise above is sound and yes, the UK does require a six month quarantine if you are not on the EU pet passport program
The pet passport scheme now includes non EU countries - inc mainland USA - so quarantine is not necessary, provided you comply with all the regulations. One thing I did read recently, however, was that animals entering UK (or may have been leaving, or both) cannot travel in the cabin. Not sure that's true but I read it somewhere recently and was surprised. I got the impression that it wasn't down to whether the individual airline would allow it, but that no airlines flying into UK airports could allow pets to travel in the cabin.
post #16 of 19
can anyone describe a pet passport and where one can get one? thanks!
post #17 of 19
Yes, with the PETS scheme, you need to use one of the approved airlines - BA, Virgin and one other (I think) - none of which allow cats in the passenger cabin.

I'm hoping this may have changed in another year or so by the time I move back to the UK...

I've just started mine on the scheme - she's had one rabies shot and will get a booster in a few months before her blood is then sent off - again, only 2 approved laboratories here in the US - both East coast - which is why I need to allow about 3 months for processing - and then she can't travel for another 3 months, which covers the rabies incubation period.

Basically, you're doing the 6 months quarantine with the kitty at home, before you fly, rather than at the other end...

Also, they need a Euro microchip - if you have a cat from a shelter here, it's likely they will have a US-only readable microchip - so they need another one. Do this before sending off the blood tests, as the blood tests need to be registered to the microchip inside kitty!
post #18 of 19
Here's some information about bringing pets into the UK

Bear in mind that each european country may have slightly different rules, and that taking a pet to a country not on the list of approved countries in the 6 months prior to entering an approved country may mean automatic quarantine.
post #19 of 19
What about moving cats from Africa to Europe and Australia or any other parts of the world? what are the quarantine procedures like then, and which airlines do allow you to have your kitties onboard with you?
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