Every year, hundreds of cats are being left behind when people relocate to another country. The Travelling Cat Project is a collective effort to demystify international cat travel.
Hopefully, by sharing our stories, it will encourage people to relocate with their cat(s).
We believe if you manage to move your personal belongings to a new country, you SHOULD BE able to move your cat(s) with you.
For a full of list of information and stories, please click here.
28, February 2014
Rafale and Dante
1. Did you use an agent?
2. What kind of work did you have to do with vet before your cat is clear for travelling?
Before we went to the vet, we had a call and explained our situation. On that call we also booked all appointments we needed for our kitties to avoid surprises.
So… now the kitties:
Rafale: He was up to date with shots and he was already micro chipped. The only thing I needed to do for Rafale was to give him a Rabies Shot, a health check, to see if he is fit for flying. He also got a Pet Passport which was required for Germany.
Dante: He was more of a challenge, since we lost his papers during our move from Dublin to Malahide so we had to start all over again. So he got all his shots, Rabies, his health check, Got micro chipped and all of this within 2 months, and of Course, also the Pet Passport
3. Is there other paperwork you need to do?
Not really, we did a lot of investigation ourselves on the internet. Germany is not difficult as long as your pets have had their shots, are micro chipped, have their passport
4. How did you travel to your destination?
We travelled by Plane to Frankfurt. We flew Lufthansa since they allow Pets as hand luggage
5. How do you book your cat? Any specific requirement?
I booked my cats by calling the Lufthansa service center in Dublin. During the call I booked my flight for 2 persons and 2 cats. I could pay the tickets for me and my wife via my credit card. I was told that when arriving at the airport I had to go to the check-in counter to check in, and I also had to pay the fair of 80 Euro per cat as extra hand luggage. The only requirement Lufthansa had is that the Cats should be vaccinated, and should have a passport, of course the carrier should have the dimensions as stated on their website.
6. How did you prepare your cat box?
I purchased two Trixie Cat carriers for the flight since they had the dimensions stated by Lufthansa. When they arrived I Left both carriers in their room where they could investigate it, sleep in it, get used to it. I did put some treats in it to make it more attractive for them. I also used these carriers to bring them to the vet. These carriers are not big, for Dante is was OK, but the Huge Bengal … yeah.. poor baby. But they both got used to it, so it was not a problem to get them in on the day of travel.
7. What is the logistics on travel day?
A Lot, the Day before I got some tablets from the vet to sedate them a little (The vet said to give them a half only, if not sufficient, administer the other half). I was really afraid that Rafale, the Bengal who is verrrrry vocal, would scream during our flight. And we really wanted to avoid those “cat haters” during departure and flight. Before we left to the airport, we administered both of them half a tablet let’s say, 30 minutes before we got into the taxi. I checked them regularly if they were OK.
I also got some baby wipes just to be prepared if something might happen during the flight.
Since we booked the 1st flight from Dublin to Frankfurt on that day, we were already at the airport really early (3 hours in advance) to avoid stress with the kitties. We really wanted to avoid long waiting times, queues just to keep the stress as low as possible during check in etc. Check in went well.
And then….. Security check, I still cannot believe it when that guy said “ we need to scan the carrier, get the cat out”. This cannot be true, really…. ? Luckily we were travelling with two people, so what we did was that I got first through the scanner, got back. In the meantime my wife opened the carrier, I got the cat out of the carrier, my wife handed over the carrier to get scanned, in the meantime I walked slowly back through the scanner with a cat on my arm. Ok, the guys at security were cooperative (was it luck??) but they opened the carrier for me so I could put back the cat in his carrier. And back to do the same drill for the other cat.
Before we boarded we noticed that half a tablet was not sufficient enough so we gave them the other half. You could really see that both of them were fighting against the sedation.
We tried to be the first ones to board the airplane where we could put them on the floor under the seats in front of us and we were quite lucky 🙂
8. Was it easy? Was it difficult?
It was easy, but only because of a few things;
• We were prepared
• We were on time
• We were in control
• The Kitties were lightly sedated, which kept the stress level in overall low
(Alice’s reminder to you: Please check with your vet regarding to sedation. Every cat is different and it might not be suitable for your cat.)
9. How is your cat behave during the journey?
As they were lightly sedated, they behaved perfectly, no stress, no sound, no “accidents” it was just perfect.
When we arrived in Frankfurt, we decided to disembark when all other passengers had left, again, to keep the stress down for all.
10. Any further inspection or procedure on arrival before you can take your cat home with you?
None, when we arrived, we got our suitcases, and walked out 🙂
11. How did your cat react to the journey?
In general, they reacted very well to the journey. But in this case we were also prepared. Since we moved to Germany to a new house AND close to our daughters place she was able to prepare our house for the kitties. When we arrived in our new home, the litter box was prepared with the litter they know, their food was there, there was a water bowl and in our suitcases we carried their cat beds which we unpacked on arrival. What I also did is that I rushed to the local pet store to buy them some toys and small pillows with Baldrian in it (yes, the smelly feet stuff, but they go crazy on it). Since our furniture was on its way, the house was empty, so they were able to explore all rooms in the house on their own pace.
We had NO Problems at all, two days later they were running, playing and doing all that stuff that 2 cats can do when they have fun. We had no pee or poo issues. All that because we gave them their space and time, and were not stressed at all (they got extra TLC though)
12. How much did it cost in total?
• Vet: about 400 Euro
• Flight Carriers: 60 Euro
• Flight: 160 Euro
• Prepare new home: 150 Euro
• Seeing them play and have fun in your new place: Priceless !
13. Any other information or tips you think other cat people should know if they want to do the same journey?
• Be prepared. There is a lot on the internet but….
Ask the company you are flying with if they have regulations, really, ask !
Ask your vet when in doubt when it comes to shots, regulations in the country of destination etc. Make also sure that all shots are done in time and on time. You cannot vaccinate a cat today and leave the day after.
• If you are Emigrating, try to find someone who can prepare your new home for your kitties, this will really help the transition
• Get the same stuff in your new home so they recognize it
• Make appointments early, when you are too late / are not compliant with regulations, there is no flight !!!!
• Make your bookings / reservations on time.
• Stay cool, keep relaxed. It will also help your kitties 🙂
Thank you RF for sharing your story with us. I am sure other cat people will the information useful!
Have you travelled with your cat internationally? If you have, talk to me! Share your story with us! It will help other cat people and their cats!
Those of you guys who have been reading my blog for a while knows I have travelled with my cat Larmlarm for over 10,000 km. With my cat sitting clients, a lot of them being foreigners working in Dublin, I have met close to 100 families who have done international travel with their cat(s) as well. As a result, I am very passionated about cat international travel to the point that I have dedicated a special feature on this blog on international cat travel collecting stories and have started working with animal transport agents in Dublin airport to provide a pick up and drop off service for cats who aren’t on the same flight as their human.
So you can imagine my excitement when I heard about the new animal facility – The ARK at JFK airport in New York!
The ARK consists of 3 phrases of development – Phrase 1 is now open. It consists of the ARK Pet Oasis, Equine & Livestock Export Centre and Aviary In-Transit Quarantine. The opening of Phase 2 is expected to take place in Q2 2017, which will include a full-service ARK Import-Export Center (“IEC”) featuring Equine Quarantine/Import, Grooms’ Lounge and The ARK Aviary. The ARK at JFK will become fully operational in summer 2017, with Phase 3 services, operated by sub-tenants, which will include a full veterinary clinic, a veterinary blood laboratory, and pet boarding and grooming facility.
What concern us pet parents most particularly will be The ARK Pet Oasis. Let’s have a look at what Pet Oasis offers…
ARK Pet Oasis is the first facility of its kind in North America. A central resource available to all airlines, pet shippers and pet parents 24/7, it services the needs and promotes the welfare of all pets traveling as live animal cargo.
We ensure that all in-transit companion animals receive rest and care upon arrival, departure and in-between domestic and international flights.
Special design features include:
– Airside location for direct access to aircraft
– Proprietary ARK-branded vans for safe transport of pets to and from aircraft
– Ample parking for drop-off or pick-up of your animals
– Veterinary triage area for acute medical care
– 100% air exchange
– Isolation kennels and quarantine rooms for infectious animals
– Thorough cleaning and disinfection protocols to prevent transmission of illness
– Sound panels to absorb excess noise
– Dedicated outdoor relief area for dogs
– 47 dog kennels
– 12 cat kennels
– Delivery of vaccines, micro-chipping and preparation of health documents by USDA certified veterinarian (appointment only)
– Airline crate compliance check and education on crate best practices
– Crate sales
– Airline check-in and review of travel and health documentation
– Coordination with airlines for accurate flight departure times
– Just-in-time delivery to the aircraft in official ARK vehicles. No more waiting in hot or cold cargo facilities!
– Animal relief, feeding and watering
– to ensure your animal departs on the correct flight
– As a U.S. Customs bonded warehouse, our staff can relieve and care for all inbound international animals immediately post-flight, even if they are awaiting to clear U.S. Customs and Border Protection requirements.
– U.S. Customs clearing option, to assure your pet clears Customs “wheels up,” or before they land at JFK
– Animal relief, crate cleaning and basic grooming, feeding and watering
– Veterinary care, if deemed necessary, by ARK affiliated veterinary staff
– Pet photo and report emailed to you to communicate your pet’s well-being (extra charge)
– Any required isolation or self-quarantine (depending on country of origin)
– Animal relief, crate evaluation and cleaning, and basic grooming for pets during layovers
– Provide U.S. Customs clearance as the first port of entry into the United States (optional)
– Coordination of arriving and departing flights
– All other services above, as needed
From my experience working with so many cats who have done international travel, I know some of their human’s main concern when it comes to checking in their cat in cargo. I reached out to the ARK Pet Oasis and I have a lovely email interview with Elizabeth A. Schuette, Managing Director of The ARK at JFK. She will answer some of the most frequently asked questions from cat parents.
Alice: A Elizabeth: E
A: Thank you very much for agreeing to chat with us about the ARK Pet Oasis.
E: You are welcome!
A: I think most cat parents will want to know what actually happens to their cat during the transit. Can you tell us more about the Pet Oasis?
E: Sure! The ARK Pet Oasis – which is now open and part of Phase 1 – is a central resource available to all airlines, pet shippers and pet parents, servicing the needs and promoting the welfare of companion animals traveling as live cargo. Think of it as a resting area for small animals like cats that will be well taken care of and pampered, pre or post-flight or while in transit. ARK Pet Oasis will accommodate for short or longer term boarding in order to bridge the gap between travel times of companion animals and their parents. We offer a wide range of services at The ARK Pet Oasis, including micro-chipping pets pre-travel, just-in-time pick-up and delivery directly to/from the aircraft in customized vehicles, reception of animals, veterinarian services, U.S. Customs clearing and much more. The boarding facility opening in Phase 3 will serve as accommodation for pets that are not going to be traveling with their parents.
A: Can you tell us what happen once the cat arrives to your facility? (Incoming and outgoing) Are they being left in the carrier while waiting? I think that’s one of the cat parent’s main concern.
E: No, cats are not left in the carriers or in their crates on the tarmac while waiting for the next flight. See the photo of The Pet Oasis, which will give you a sense of the facility and kennel area. Cats will be accommodated in a designated cat kennel with a litter box, blanket, a perch, food, and water. Cats can be groomed, cleaned and also assessed should they need any medical attention. Their crates are also cleaned and any special instructions from the owner are attended to upon request. At The ARK at JFK, our employees are experienced animal handlers and are capable of removing the animals from their crates or carriers safely and efficiently. Further, The ARK at JFK is becoming a TSA-certified Certified Cargo Screening Facility (CCSF).
A: Do you have vet, nurse, behaviourist or pet sitter on site if the animal needs to be held in the facility in waiting for transit?
E: Yes, we have a veterinarian and licensed veterinary technician on call for any emergency care at the Pet Oasis.
A: The Pet Oasis seems to be an amazing facility for pet travel!
E: Yes! Our goal is to create a more efficient and safe process by reducing the need for additional travel and offering trained animal care staff immediately pre- and post-flight. The ARK provides a healthy and comfortable environment, and sets new international airport standards for comprehensive veterinary, kenneling and quarantine services. We also understand that cats need special care so their kennels are separated from where the dogs stay. We also have special sound panels to absorb excess noise, ARK branded and climate controlled vehicles to pickup and drop off your cat from the airplane or cargo warehouse. Instead of waiting to clear Customs on an international flight in a warehouse, cats can relax comfortably at The ARK.
A: Thank you so much for your time! I can see a lot of happy pet parents using this beautiful facility!
Of course, you come to this blog to look at cat photos, right? Here are some happy cat travellers using the ARK!
Photo credit: The ARK at JFK
Photo credit: The ARK at JFK
Photo credit: The ARK at JFK
Photo credit: The ARK at JFK
Gus the cat from Kuwait, photo credit: The ARK at JFK
The U.S. serviceman Ian Clark, Lezli Clark and their new cat Gus reunited! Photo credit: The ARK at JFK
If you are a cat lover, the chance is you have already heard of Kunkush – the famous rescue cat and his miraculous reunion with his family. Today, another miracle happened. One of the cat lovers I know happen to know his foster family in Berlin and Emma the foster mom agrees to chat with us! If you haven’t heard of him yet, here is a recap of his story…
Kunkush trekked all the way across Turkey with his Iraqi family before taking a rubber dingy over to the Greek island of Lesvos. It was on this Greek island where they lost track of Kunkush, thinking they would never see him again. They searched but eventually the family were forced to continue their journey across Europe without him, leaving the refugee cat to fend for himself on the streets. Kunkush was then being found by rescue volunteers in the fishing village of Skala a short while afterwards. Through the power of social media, Kunkush miraculous reunited with his family on Valentine’s Day thousands of miles away in Norway.
(Warning: you WILL cry if you watch this video…)
Alice = me Emma = Kunkush’s foster mother
Alice: Hi Emma, thanks for talking to me today. I know you were the foster mom for the famous rescue cat Kunkush. Can you tell us how did that happen you become his foster mom?
Emma: Hey Alice, you’re welcome! Well, a friend of mine follows the Facebook page of Nine Lives Greece, a cat rescue and neutering charity, who in turn were sharing a page called Reunite Dias, about a lost little white cat that had been separated from his refugee family when they landed at the Greek island of Lesvos. (The people who found him had named him Dias, the Greek form of “Zeus” as he seemed a tough little fellow.) The aim of Reunite Dias was, obviously, to find his family and get them reunited, so the more people who shared the page, the greater chance of it being publicized. At that time, it was believed that the family had settled in Germany, so a temporary home in Germany would be the best thing for the cat. So I mentioned that my husband and I could look after him, as we live in Berlin.
Alice: How was it like taking care of him?
Emma: I thought he’d be scared and shaken up by all his experiences, but once he arrived at our apartment he strolled out of his carrier like he owned the place, had some food, had a look around, jumped up into my lap and settled down for a sleep! He was very easy to take care of, except for a bit of a worry about his health issues, as he had picked up a parasite, giardia, and ringworm during his time running wild on the island. So there were a few vet trips and medications for him to take. But he took it all in his stride.
Alice: How was he like? His personality? His favourite things?
Emma: Man, he was LOUD. Such a tiny cat but so loud. When I was waiting in the airport to meet him and Amy his rescuer, I could hear his yells while they were still in the security area. He was very curious too, and he had a little seat on our windowsill where he would spend hours looking out- luckily some building works were going on opposite so he could snoop to his heart’s content. He also loved chasing felt mice on string, which we would do until he would start to get a bit manic and aggressive; since the first day he didn’t sleep much, so he would get overtired- when that happened, I would go to the bedroom and get under the covers, he would join me, and then he would relax into sleep, and I could sneak away.
Alice: I can imagine it must be hard during the departure, it must be very hard to say goodbye, tell us something about that?
Emma: To be honest, we didn’t really expect the family to be found, so it was quite difficult trying to maintain an emotional distance and remember that this was someone else’s cat. When we got the email from Michelle, who ran the Reunite Dias page, saying that the family had been found, my first thought was “oh.” But then I saw photos of them and they are such lovely people that I was genuinely happy for them. We Skyped with the family about a week before Kunkush left, and that was just amazing; he kept going round the back of the computer looking for his family! And after that, every time the doorbell rang he’d gallop off to the door thinking his family was there, so it was lovely that he knew they still existed, and was sort of prepared in a way, to be reunited with them. The day he went was… mm, very mixed feelings! He’d really bonded with my husband, so both of us felt pretty sad about it. Michelle at Reunite Dias was great; she supported me online throughout the day.
Alice: Oh wow! Such a fascinating story!
Emma: It was quite strange having a guest cat with a mysterious past; I kept trying to do detective work on him – I guessed that he lived with children because he always pricked up his ears and got excited when he heard the children in our apartment block go past the door. And there are 5 children in his family. Also, we didn’t know his name, so when we found out his name, I went to the bedroom where he was lying on a chair and just gently called “Kunkush!” and his head shot up at once. “Kunkush” means “thick fur” apparently! He had incredibly thick fur; the family used to shave him in the summer months to keep him cool.
Alice: I know he has passed away since reunited with his family. It is very sad but I am glad to know that he was finally home in the comfort of his family when he crossed the rainbow bridge.
Emma: Yes, it is sad, he contracted FIP. We Skyped again with the family a couple of weeks after he was reunited with them, and he looked so quiet and content sitting with the mother. He is now immortalized in the book that Amy and Doug, Kunkush’s rescuers, wrote, “Lost and Found Cat”. It’s a children’s book telling the story of the flight from Iraq to Greece, how Kunkush got lost and how he was found. It’s a lovely book and quite unusual in that it addresses the issues of refugees, which I think is important for children to learn about, because the refugee situation is so serious and on-going. The book also emphasizes the role that social media and the internet, Facebook and Skype, play in connecting people.
Alice: Thanks for sharing such an amazing story with us today!
Emma: You’re welcome; it’s a pleasure to remember that it actually worked out, and that against the odds, Kunkush found his family again.
If Kunkush’s story touches you, please consider helping the following charities in helping the refugees.
Amal Shop is an income generation project that supports the livelihoods of Syrian families living in Izmir, Turkey. The initiative provides an opportunity for Syrian families living in Turkey to support themselves by helping them sell their handmade work to the global market. Volunteers work directly alongside these talented mothers to design products that you may enjoy. The income helps to pay for rent, food as well as other necessities. As a result of lightening the financial burden on the family, children can go to school rather than having to work – just another benefit of this initiative.
Philoxenia Kitchen provides hot meals, comfortable spaces and open arms in stressful environments. They work to provide positive support and inspire a sense of humanity and solidarity that people can carry with them throughout their onward journey. The Kitchen provides a warm meal to 1000 people a day. That means, during their first year of operation, they will provide around 356,000 warm meals to asylum seekers throughout the EU.
As mentioned by Emma in the interview, Kunkush’s story has now been captured in a wonderful children’s book. This is a great opportunity to teach the future generation about love, tolerance and compassion. People from other countries might look different, but we very often share the same passion and we have a lot more in common than we imagined. Lost and Found Cat can be purchased on Amazon or any good book shop.
Some time ago, I made a Quick Guide on International Cat Travel. I have made quite a complete list of the step by step guide from preparation to the actual travel day to arriving on the destination.
However, I did also mention I wish I made a cat packing list, which I didn’t at the time.
Today, I am going to share with you a pet packing list I found on EuropePetNet, check it out and read the full article on here. It’s not cat specific but it will be handy for those of you who have both cats and dogs.
One thing I do want to add though is – PASSPORT! Don’t forget their passport and paperwork! You might need to attach the vet certificate or the counter sign document from the Department of Agriculture of your country!
Animal comfort and security
It is safest for your pet to travel in a sturdy crate, even in the car. If you are flying with your pet, check with the airline before purchasing a travel crate. Soft-sided carriers are often allowed for in-cabin travel for small dogs and cats. Size and structure of the crate may be outlined by airline policy or law. For example, some airlines require specially constructed wire crates for transporting fighting breeds, such as Pit Bulls.
Before setting off on holiday, check for specific breed bans at your destination. Commonly banned dog breeds include American Staffordshire Terrier, Pit Bull Terrier, Mastiffs, etc.
Supplies It is a good idea to keep all your pet’s supplies in one place and easily accessible. If you are travelling by car or train, pack your pet’s things in a small bag that will fit within your luggage. If you are flying with your pet, place a few essentials in your hand luggage.
Things to keep with your pet:
Leash and collar with identification tags
Even if your pet does not normally wear a collar, it is a good idea for him or her to wear one while travelling. This allows for control over the pet and identification. Cats do best when fitted with a harness and leash instead of a collar around the neck.
Small plastic bowl
A small food storage bowl is useful for giving your pet water or food during the trip.
Keep a small water bottle with you at all times for your pet. It is necessary to offer water every few hours to ensure that he or she stays well hydrated.
One serving of food is good to have on hand, especially if you are travelling by air. Due to weight and size restrictions for hand luggage, we recommend that you carry the minimum with your pet into the cabin. If your flight is delayed or checked luggage is lost, your pet can at least have one meal while you wait.
Things to put into your ‘pet’s bag’ or checked luggage:
A small ‘slip lead’ is good to have in case the other becomes lost or damaged. This type of lead can easily be put over your pet’s head and serves as both collar and leash.
Pack enough for the trip. It may not be easy or possible to purchase the same brand at your destination, especially if your pet is on a prescription veterinary diet.
The weather can be unpredictable and muddy paws can be a problem! It is a good idea to have a bath towel on hand for easy paw and hair clean-up.
1 or 2 bowls for water and food
To lighten your load, use only one bowl per pet – when your pet has finished the meal, fill the bowl with water.
If your pet has a health problem, have your veterinarian examine your pet before travel. Be sure to have enough medication for the duration of the trip.
Grooming supplies, such as hair brush, toothbrush and pet toothpaste
Good hygiene and daily brushing should not take a vacation!
While travelling with your cat internationally, sometimes it might not be possible to finish your journey in one day. You and your cat might need to look for lodging during transit. Plus, it is a good idea to break the car trip into session so that your cat can get rest. It is incredibly difficult to find pet friendly lodging in Ireland but situation has improved greatly in the past decade, a quick search on Booking.com gives us 38 options for Dublin. Not too bad in comparison to a few years ago, right?
And Europe Pet Net has some tips on their website on pet friendly lodging, let’s have a look!
Pet Friendly Lodging Guide
Most hotels in Continental Europe and Scandinavia are pet-friendly, but this is not always the case. When you are searching for a pet-friendly hotel or B&B – take the time to read the fine print before booking a room. Keep in mind that a published pet policy may be lacking and you must first call the hostel or hotel for clarification.
Some hotels will specifically list out the types of pets that are welcome. Small B&Bs may even require that your pet is crated while you are not with your pet in the room. Others may require a “pet deposit” upon check-in, to cover any damages if your pet makes a mess or chews up the curtains. Renting an apartment for holiday is becoming a very popular alternative to the standard hotel room and many of these are pet-friendly.
How can I find a pet friendly room?
There are several ways to search for a pet-friendly hotel online. Some are more efficient and user-friendly than others. Here are our recommendations for a quick, easy search:
Booking.com – On their home page, type in your destination, dates and how many guests. Click “search” and then look for the tabs on the left side of the page. Click on “Facility” and you can filter your search for ‘Pet Friendly’ places.
Tripadvisor.com – Trip Advisor is not just for hotel and restaurant reviews anymore. They have recently added a filter to their hotel and rentals search engine, allowing pet owners to select pet-friendly options easily.
Google Hotel Finder – Don’t just rely on your basic Google search for finding the best pet-friendly lodging. Google has developed a specific search engine just for this need. Put in your destination, dates and then search for the best prices. Google then allows you to filter for pets under “Amenities.”
Airbnb.com – AirBnB has become a go-to for people travelling on the cheap or for those seeking luxurious apartment rentals. Sometimes you can book a night on someone’s couch and save Fluffy a spot too! When you find a place within your budget, click on “Amenities” and it will tell you if the room is pet-friendly or not. While this method of searching isn’t as efficient as the others on this list, you can still find some great deals very easily.
If you use another website, you may not be able to easily search for pet friendly rooms. Often you have to find a place to stay within your budget and then find out if the place is pet friendly. If you book through a major hotel such as Radisson Blu, Hilton, Choice Hotels, Ibis, etc., their website should provide all details of pet policies before you book.