International Cat Travel

The most daunting part of our moving to Germany was taking our cats with.  Our cats are our children and there was never an option of leaving them behind.  Either they came with or we didn’t go.   We didn’t want to let them stand in the way of this opportunity, so we were willing to do whatever it took to bring them with. It used to be that animals were quarantined.  In some countries, they still are.  However, to come to Germany, they would get to come right along with us in the cabin of the plane, but we had to jump through some hoops first.

We had to get rabies shot and a special European 15 digit microchip, which we had to order online, 21 days or more prior to the trip.  Then, we had to get a health exam done 10 days or fewer prior to the trip.  Next, we had to go to the APHIS office of Illinois, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to get three separate documents certified.  These documents were giving our vet palpations over whether or not he filled them out right and used the correct color ink.  He was afraid he would be the reason we were denied entry of our cats.

So we got all the paperwork and medical stuff done. The next hurdle was actually getting them on the plane and the flight itself.   The airlines had a weight limit of 18 lbs. per cat including the carrier.  Well, one of our two cats is a little plump and a month before the trip he and his carrier combined was 19.4 lbs.  So we had to put him through a little boot camp and diet to get him ready.  At the airport, each cat has to be carried by hand through the security machine, while his or her carrier goes through the X-ray. This was our biggest concern because we didn’t want them to bolt in the airport.

There were many days we went back and forth about whether or not to go through with it because of the cats.  Would they be okay?  Would they be different cats once we got there?   Would they cry the whole flight or get sick?  There are so many unknowns.  But the one thing we have learned and try to keep in mind with anything in life is that you can’t let fear keep you from doing something.

In the end, everything turned out fine and actually easier than we thought. At the check-in counter they just asked us their weight, they didn’t even put them on the scale.  So it turned out we could have said anything, but Micho did lose enough weight in actuality.   When we got to security, we asked if there was anyway to get around taking them out of the carrier, and they allowed one of us to go to a private room.   My hubby did that one, not me, and he has the scratches to show for it, but he said it was better than doing it out in the open.   Then on the flight they were quiet the whole trip until the last 30 minutes. One of them cried the duration of the descent.  I think his little ears were hurting as much as ours were!

This just proved to us again, if you have faith and a positive attitude that things will turn out okay.   We can’t let fears hold us back.   Now, their adjustment to our new home is a different story, I will save for another post.  But they made it.  They are officially international travelers!