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.
Hong Kong to Paris
Myself – Alice Chau Ginguene
1. Did you use an agent?
2. What kind of work did you have to do with vet before your cat was cleared for travelling?
I needed to go to the vet to get rabies shot for Larmlarm and a health certificate before departure. After getting the health certificate, I needed to make an appointment with the Government Veterinary Officer to counter-sign to certify the vet’s signature.
3. Was there other paperwork you had to do?
Yes. Since Larmlarm had another name when I adopted him from the shelter. The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries needed me to write an affidavit to say the two names belonged to the same cat.
4. How did you travel to your destination? Which carrier did you use?
I travelled with Korean Air, because I wanted Larmlarm to travel with me in cabin. He was only 6 months old. I didn’t feel comfortable for him to be in the cargo.
5. How did you book your cat with your carrier? Any specific requirements?
Since I travelled with him in cabin, I needed to contact the airline in advance to arrange as they only allow one pet per flight. I also needed to pay a fee as he is considered to be ‘extra baggage’. They do have a specific measurement regarding the cat carrier. Also, it is compulsory for the carrier to have a water bottle, but the cat is not allowed to have food during the flight.
6. How did you prepare your cat box?
I prepared the water bottle and his toys.
7. What were the logistics on travel day?
I arrived at the airport early to allow some time in case there was any issue at Customs. I went through Customs in Hong Kong, they looked at the vaccination record and the health certificate from my vet and the Government Veterinary Officer. Then I went straight to the gate to wait. That’s all.
We had a transit flight through Seoul. There was 8 hours between flights, so we checked into a transit hotel in the airport to rest a bit.
But during the flight from Hong Kong to Seoul, there was this Hong Kong woman complaining about the cat. She was convinced she could smell the cat! Crazy, I know! The cabin manager freaked out and asked me if I would put the cat in the storage cupboard! I said, ‘Of course not! Babies smell too! Why don’t you put the babies in storage then? My cat has his ticket! If the lady has a problem, you should move the lady, not me, not my cat, coz we are happy where we are.’
They backed off.
Ah well, there is always one cat hater anywhere we go, right?
(Author’s rant: As cat lovers, we all know there is no way she could smell the cat. Maybe in a house where the cats have been inside for one week with window closed because their human are away on holiday. Yes, you might be able to smell some cat smell in that situation. But this woman was not talking about cat PEE smell, she was talking about the cat body odour (if there is such thing…). Give me a break! ON A PLANE? There are more odour on the plane than the cat!!! People’s fart, dirty seat cover, yucky plane food in the oven heating up, people’s smelly feet, STRONG air freshener to cover the all of the above odour I have just mentioned, come to mind…rant over.)
8. Was it easy? Was it difficult?
It was quite straightforward. But it was my first time so I was pretty stressed out nonetheless…
9. Any further inspection or procedure on arrival before you could take your cat home with you?
No. The Customs staff in Paris didn’t even look at the box.
10. How did your cat react to the journey?
He was happy to be outside and went straight to the litter tray. Then went straight to sleep.
11. How much did it cost in total? Can you provide a break down if you don’t mind?
It was 11 years ago, so I don’t remember accurately. But it was something like:
Rabies shot – 50 Euro
Health Cert – 20 Euro
Government Counter-sign – 10 Euro
Airline fee – 200 Euro
Total = 280 Euro to 300 Euro
12. Any other information you think other cat people should know if they want to do the same journey?
– Make sure to be discreet. There is always one cat hater on board. If you don’t want to get into an argument with people, stay low.
– Prepare ahead if there is a transit. If you need to wait for a long time between flights, ideally you should book a transit hotel room, so the cat can rest a bit and the same for yourself! I wish I had a water bowl and litter tray with me, I didn’t have either.
– Ask for an extra blanket from the flight attendant. You can then cover the carrier, so your cat will sleep during the flight.
Have you made similar journey? Have you travelled with your cat(s) internationally? We need to hear from you. Your stories might give helpful insight to other cat people who are making the same journey. Altogether, we can make effort to make sure less cat(s) left behind. Knowledge is power.
You don’t have to worry about the writing. We will send you a questionnaire like the one above, you just need to answer them. Please be in touch!
In the last post, I told you we finally took Larmlarm home and were initially very excited about having our own cat. I would like to tell you everything worked out fine and we lived happily ever after. But no. It turns out LARMLARM IS EVIL!
Don’t get me wrong, LarmLarm is the love of my life, but he is also the most terrible person you will ever meet in your entire life!!!
Oh no no, I am not speaking as 23-year-old me, I am speaking as the ‘now-me’ after seeing hundreds of cats, he is still the most difficult cat I have encountered!
You are probably putting your hands on your hips going, ‘I am not so sure! My Muffin is pretty bad, you haven’t met my Muffin yet, you don’t know….’
Oh well, maybe I don’t know how difficult your cat is, but my Larmlarm bit some of my wedding guests and drew blood!!!
(I bet you went silent just now, good!)
Now, I will tell you another fact. Larmlarm is ‘blacklisted’ from his vet in Hong Kong, Paris, and ALSO in his current vets in Dublin. Oh yes, I said VETS because he needs to have two vets. Because one vet does house calls when he only needs to be looked at, and one vet does the heavy-duty stuff, like surgery or something. The reason being, he is so aggressive with vets that he usually trashes the whole consultation room! So we try to avoid bringing him to the clinic except if it’s really really necessary. One of his vets considered him to be ‘crazy’ (his word) and the other considered him to be ‘a bit odd’ (her words).
Since that first night we took him home, we realised he might be a difficult cat. But we didn’t know much about cats back then, so we thought all cats are difficult and he is only normal.
We were told we should put him in a cage, since he was a kitten and he would be used to being in a cage in the shelter. So we purchased a similar cage for him, as you can see in the pictures in this post and the last post. We settled him down in the cage with a litter tray, bowls and towels and went to bed.
These photos record the very first moment when we arrived home from the shelter and opened the cat carrier to introduce Larmlarm to his new home. Apologies for the poor quality of the photo but we had a first gen digital camera, what do you expect?
Soon after we went to bed and tried to sleep, he started screaming. This annoying screaming behaviour, unfortunately, never went away up to this day. He loves people, he loves to be with people at all times. Sometimes, his behaviour can be quite dog-like, so he DOES NOT WANT TO SLEEP ALONE! He just can’t sleep alone, the end. Ever since the first night, every night he sleeps with me. I have no choice or he will scream the whole place down! Oh, I know you are putting your hands on your hips again going, ‘Excuse me? I thought you are a cat behaviourist, you should have known better than to let him get away with that the very first time!’
Trust me, we did try. But he screamed until 4am! He was so loud I was worried the neighbours were going to call the cops! I had to give in. And remember the Adoption Assistant said (refer to my last post here) how he has a tiny voice? Ah-ha, no he doesn’t have a tiny voice, he has the loudest cat voice in the world (oh yes, that’s after hundreds of cats I have seen from my work.) Soon, we realized Larmlarm was pretending to be innocent and gentle at the shelter and his true evil self came to life just barely 30 minutes after we took him home!!! Oh my goodness, he conned us!!!
Since then, I have learned another thing about him. Larmlarm is a very very determined person. Once he sets his mind on something, he will make damn sure to achieve it – opening doors, waking people up, dropping my iPhone, pulling all the laundry down from the drying rack, etc. I am sure he can climb Mount Everest if he wants to (though I know he won’t want to, he is too lazy and too cowardly of a person!) He does go through phases though. When he was going through the I-must-open-the-wardrobe-at-2am-and-pull-everything-out’ phase, it was terrible. Or that other time, when he went through the I-have-to-scream-at-the–front-door-until-the-neighbours-call-the-cops phase, it was not only annoying but could have possibly got us arrested for Disturbance Of Peace!
However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having Larmlarm helped with my depression a great deal. He helped me in so many ways I find it difficult to put them into words. His determined personality taught me to never give up! Once you set your mind on something, such as waking the human up at 4am, you just have to do it. Since I have no intention of waking people up at 4am, I set my mind to getting better. Have I told you, regardless of his difficult personality, Larmlarm is an excellent nurse? If he knows you are not well (and he always knows!) he will sit next to you or on your chest and just stare at you, almost as if asking ‘Are you ok?’ Sometimes he would proceed to give me headrubs, hoping to help me feel better. And guess what? I did feel better afterwards!
Soon after I got Larmlarm, I started to have enough energy to straighten out my life. I realised it is utterly stupid to stay in a job I hated just because of the expectations from people around me. Plus, I have always wanted to travel, so I decided not only to quit my job but to quit my country as well! Oh yes, I decided to move to France.
I already spoke some French at that stage. So France was a natural choice for me.
You might start to be freaked out and ask ‘but what about Larmlarm?’ Obviously, without a second’s hesitation, Larmlarm had to come with me. Larmlarm is part of my life. Not only is he my nurse, he is also my saviour. In fact, he is many many things to me! He is my mentor to put me back in my place when I am arrogant; he is my constant reminder life is beautiful when I lose hope; he was my alarm clock pulling me out of bed when I was so depressed and wanted to stay in bed forever. Most importantly, he teaches me to love and to be loved unconditionally. I am sure that without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Before I go, I would like to share some more of Larmlarm’s baby pictures with you, enjoy!
(to be continued…How I became a cat sitter? Part 4 – Can one be a cat shrink? is here)
N.B. If you want to know the story of our journey from Hong Kong to Paris, please click here, where I share the practical information and also our experience.