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If the most frequent question I’m asked about moving is “Where?”, the second one is, “What are you going to do with your cats?”

There is only one answer.

Take them with us, of course!

That said, moving with three cats is not going to be fun. Imagine three cranky, terrified toddlers who don’t understand you and are heavily armed. That pretty much sums up the experience.

But I’m more concerned about how frightening and uncomfortable it will be for Chloe, Sophie, and Samba. If there’s anything cats can’t stand, it’s change. My cats run in fear at the sight of the vacuum cleaner. I can’t imagine them embracing the concept of transatlantic flight.

Keeping the cats in the cargo hold is the easier and cheaper option, but I’m sure most pet owners have heard the horror stories of animals being tossed in like soccer balls, or freezing to death. The idea is too horrible to contemplate.

But will an airline really let me share a seat with three yowling kitties? Would we survive the flight, or would the other passengers express their displeasure with violence? Panicked cats can’t sound worse than screaming babies, right?

Then there’s the issue of what happens once we land. Many countries that have rabies-free policies will insist on a long quarantine period for any immigrating animals. In addition to quarantines being expensive for the unlucky pet owner, there are also stories of animal abuse and neglect in those situations.

One thing I can promise you–I’m not going to put my beloved pets through hell only to abandon them when they’re at their most vulnerable. And they will take a quarantine as abandonment–it’s not like I’d be able to explain the situation to them. (Well, I could try, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t understand.)

I’ve read there is a few things you can do to avoid quarantines, including making sure each pet gets a rabies shot and a vet’s certificate proclaiming he or she is rabies free. Unfortunately, I’ve also read that the rabies vaccine is unnecessary for house cats (go figure) and can actually cause cancer.

It seems the only good solution is to move to a country that doesn’t have a rabies-free policy, or find a decent loophole that I can live with.

If you embark on a romantic vacation and your flight is interrupted by three yowling cats, I apologize in advance.

Have you ever immigrated to another country with pets? Do you have any tips for me?

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  1. VR Barkowski

    I’ve never immigrated to another country with pets, although I did move from the West Coast to the East Coast in the dead of winter with a cat and a dog in the car—seven days. Boy was that fun! Ahem.

    I’ve been on several 12+ hour flights where there have been multiple screaming babies and toddlers, but I’ve never once been disturbed by a four legged passenger. Like you, I couldn’t bear to stick my furry children in the cargo hold.

    VR Barkowski

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks for commenting, VR! I can’t imagine seven days with pets in a car. I’m guessing they weren’t too happy….

  2. Javier

    A friend of mine brought her dog all the way from Argentina. There was A LOT of paperwork needed beforehand, and they got a pre-clearance note to avoid the quarantine.
    I would strongly suggest you get all the paperwork and all the information beforehand and apply and submit it in advance.

    • Holli Moncrieff

      Thanks, Javier. That’s good advice. I’m definitely going to look into it. Getting information from Palau has certainly been a challenge!


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