Most people move at least once in their lifetime and others quite frequently; however, moving with pets can be an entirely different game as our staff members have discovered. Our Administrative Assistant, Charlene, moved her two cats internationally (twice), while our Social Media and Marketing Intern, Kayti, is currently on a cross country move with her cat Pearl. We’ll be following Kayti and Pearl’s journey for the next few days, but first some general tips on International Relocation:
International Tips and Tricks
Moving internationally can be quite a bit more complex than moving within your home country, as each locality has differing rules around importing live animals. Some require quarantines or specific vaccines, thus it is a great first step to start with your local Veterinarian.
Before we go any further, it is important to note that the steps required to ensure your pet can clear customs, can take quite a bit of time and energy. Most processes start months in advance; however it is well worth it in the end to have the furry part of your family along for the ride!
When you do visit your Veterinarian be sure to ask about the following:
- The entry requirements for your pet(s) for the specific country you will be relocating to
As we stated above, requirements differ from country to country. Some common elements are: Microchipping, Rabies Vaccine, Deworming Treatment, and Blood Tests.
- What steps are involved in preparing for these requirements?
Most countries have a specific order that requirements must be completed in, for example, ensuring that your pet is Microshipped before the Rabies Vaccination takes place. Some countries offer Pet Passports as well, which results in less paperwork and more accurate record keeping.
- Do they offer any Pet Relocation assistance or is there a third party they have worked with before and recommend?
Relocating a pet internationally requires a great deal of both paperwork and legwork, thus there are many services offered that will make this job easier for you. However, many relocation firms can charge rather exorbitant fees. If your Veterinarian can recommend a trusted company, then your job gets a bit easier. If not, do your homework. Look around at the different options, see if there are reviews, and find out what you are being charged for. Most airlines are open about their pet cargo fees, which can help determine if there is a large mark-up.
Now that all the technical questions are in the bag, I’m sure you are wondering what you can do for your pet, as people aren’t the only ones who may be stressed by the move.
- Ensure that you get the proper sized carrier for your pet
Most airlines have a minimum size and specific material requirement, especially if your pet is traveling in the cargo area. Getting a back-up carrier is a good idea as well, especially if you will be transporting your pet via a different method once you arrive.
- Acclimate them to their carrier or kennel before travel
It is normally acceptable to add padding to kennels and can be a favorite blanket or other item that smells like home (you can also use these as safe zones in the new space!). For more information about acclimating cats to carriers, see our YouTube Video.
- Ask your Veterinarian about stress relief methods that may work for your pet
Like people, not every pet is the same and not all methods will work in the same way. One question asked in regards to relocation is, should you drug your pet. When traveling long-distance, especially by air, the answer is no. Your pet may do more harm to themselves if they can’t respond quickly. The most common remedies for stress reduction, include pheromone treatments and prior acclimation.
Kayti and Pearl’s Cross Country Journey
Our Social Media and Marketing Intern, Kayti, is taking a multi-day journey from Florida to Washington state with her cat Pearl. We’ll be following her progress to take a look at Pet Relocation in action.
Kayti was sure to take a few steps, similar to those above, before she left on her trip, this includes training Pearl to walk on a harness.
I have to say Pearl was less than excited to begin our travels this morning, but she’s always had a fairly adapting “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude and has since accepted her new life in the car. Thankfully. She spent about half an hour complaining and breathing heavily, which concerned me a little, but with a little patience and comfort she settled down before long. I was very pleased when she used the litter box almost immediately, which I have placed on the floor behind my passenger seat. I also have a mat with her food behind the driver’s seat, a seat cleared in the back, and her favorite shoe box for perching. She’s spent most of the trip sprawled on the floor of the front passenger seat, which I have graciously given her by sitting criss-crossed more often than not. She cannot be convinced that the best place for her wouldn’t be at the driver’s feet, which is the only place we won’t allow her to explore and is thus, irresistible. She is nothing if not persistent.
A high point of the trip so far was when we stopped to stretch our legs and Pearl willingly hopped out on harness and leash. Victory! Even if you can’t manage to flawlessly leash train your cat, having him/her on a harness and leash at rest stops is great if only for the peace of mind as doors are opening and kitties are squirming.
Last night we stayed in a hotel, which turned out to be less of an adventure than I had thought it might be. There are a number of pet-friendly hotels, which I had mistakenly assumed would be more difficult to come by. After a full day in the car, Pearl was thrilled to explore a new place; she told me all about it as she wandered about the room. For someone who has never before stepped paw in a hotel there is apparently quite a bit to discuss about it! I was pleased to see that the furniture was relatively minimal, the beds were boarded around the bottom and flush against the wall, which left little space for her to crawl into and me to coax her out of. It seems to me most hotels/motels are arranged this way, making one fewer variable in pet travel. Always a good thing.
Pearl has made it clear the passenger floor is the spot for her, so I’ve laid her blanket down there today and she’s been content to set up camp there. I’m happy to glance down and see her so relaxed. I both read and it was suggested to me that I might stop by a veterinarian to get sedatives for her, but I’d suspected Pearl would be a fairly easy passenger and I’m glad I trusted that instinct and did not medicate her unnecessarily. Some cats would experience great distress and a veterinary-prescribed sedative to ease their anxiousness would be a
kindness, but cats are individuals and their needs should be considered individually. Creating hideaways, such as placing a box or a carrier in an accessible location, allows a place for a cat to feel safe and de-stress while traveling. I also recommend creating floor spaces, which have clearly appeased my Pearl. Sitting lower in the car reduces the sensation of motion and may both calm a kitty wanting to hide, as well as help to prevent motion sickness for those who are unfamiliar with or uneasy with the movement of the road.
The more time we spend in the car the more easygoing Pearl has become. Today she has done almost nothing but nap at my feet, occasionally waking whenever we stop for gas to to ask if she can anticipate freedom. While this makes the trip easier on me, it does deprive her of activity during the day, so I make sure to bring toys into the hotel room and get her running around.
Last night Pearl found herself a nice perch from which to survey the room. She clearly fancied herself very impressive as she was able to look down on us. Not all, but most hotel/motels seem to ask a pet fee of about $10-$20 per night. I’ve noticed they may also specify a maximum size or number of pets, have a limited number of pet-permissible rooms, or place restrictions on whether or not pets may be left unattended in the room. When we’re nearing time to call it a day, I’ll begin searching hotels on our route and call ahead to ensure they have availability for both us and Pearl. A simple google search for “pet-friendly hotels in X” has done the
trick just fine. Something I’ve also been doing is searching local veterinarians in each location we stop for the night in case an issue arises so no time will be wasted in such an event. Another reason to keep her carrier accessible, as well as her medical records in the car as we travel.
We just pulled into a rest stop and Pearl is ready to hop out and stretch, after she finishes pouting for being made to put on her harness of course!
Stay Tuned for Day 4! Nearly there!