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Importing our cats to the UK

(18 Posts)
CanucksoontobeinLondon Fri 11-Oct-13 19:28:17

We’re relocating with our 2 cats from Canada to England next year. I’ve already downloaded the forms I need for the pet importation processs, and it all seems…complicated. The steps aren’t actually that hard to follow (or so it seems), but the process still seems complicated. My DH keeps telling me that in the bad old days of his childhood it was much worse, but that’s not actually helping much.

Basically I’m hoping for reassurance that this cross-continental move is not going to kill our kitties. See, we did an airplane move with our old cat many moons ago, and a month later she was diagnosed with an incurable disease and had to be put down. Intellectually I know it was just a horrible coincidence, but I’m a little irrational about it all the same.

Have other posters here done a big move via airplane with a cat or cats? Any advice to offer navigating the steps, or information regarding stuff they don’t tell you on the official website? Our vet has already promised to trank them up like crazy to reduce their distress, but the tranquilizers will probably wear off mid-Atlantic while they’re still in the belly of the plane. I foresee picking up 2 very cranky boys when we finally get to Heathrow. Bear in mind, too, that they’re both rescues, and Cat 1 is still of a nervous disposition just on a day to day basis.

On the bright side, because of the impending move we finally got off our butts and got them microchipped. We had kept meaning to get around to it, but then other stuff kept getting in the way. Plus, they’re indoor cats, so we weren’t too worried about them getting lost. But we should’ve done it anyway, and now we have.

Thanks in advance.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 11-Oct-13 19:56:42

I worked for many years as a quarantine vet we had 70 dogs and 90 cats in at any one time so have seen hundreds of animals safely imported into the UK.
The first thing I would say is please, please do not tranquillise your cats this is really, really dangerous and the single biggest cause of death in animals travelling. When sedated they are unable to regulate their body temperature and there is no one monitoring them for at least 7 hour.
Products like Feliway can really help cats to settle, but actually the hold is quiet and the vast majority of animals settle quite happily.
Next ensure that your paperwork is clear only include essential paperwork there is nothing worth than having to wade through 90 pages of stuff to find the three you actually need. Have three copies of the paperwork in addition to the originals. The original travel with the animals with a copy in a sealed envelope secured to the crate, next copy is held by who ever is collecting the cats and the final copy is with someone else who s close to a fax machine at the time they should be released.
I would always fly my animals into Heathrow it has the biggest and most experienced ACS in the UK.
Problems are very rare I have only seen disasters where the animals were sedated or where there was only one set of papers.
Hope this helps.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 11-Oct-13 20:02:30

Oh yes first thing you do once you are here is to register their microchips with UK database. We have had one case in the last 12 months of a cat that was imported from US and we were never able to find the owner as they had not registered the chip here and AVID only had an old US address.
If they have AVID chips it might be worth considering a second chip as AVID chips can not be read by all ISO chip readers. AVID is mostly only used in the US the rest of the world uses ISO. Due to previous quarantine work we have both AVID and ISO chip readers.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Fri 11-Oct-13 20:38:21

Thank you VERY much for the info. Scratch the tram king idea.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Fri 11-Oct-13 21:03:43

Tranking, I should say, not tram king. Stupid auto correct. But thank you very much. Also for the microchip advice.

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 12-Oct-13 10:57:47

That's useful to know about heathrow being the best airport for animals.

issey6cats Sat 12-Oct-13 12:18:24

i havent done the cats but i adopted my dog from cyprus she came with pet passport, vaccinated against rabies is very important, and when she came to heathrow was out of there about two hours after landing they really are fab people there

cozietoesie Sat 12-Oct-13 12:57:22

Yes. If it's any consolation Canuck, airport staff seem to go completely overboard when it comes to pets. The last time I travelled by air with a cat, I was treated like royalty - not down to me (they could have cared less about me) but because of the cat. It was quite clear that their focus (and that would be his two special attendants (was entirely on His Majesty and I was merely some appendage.

ZebraOwl Sat 12-Oct-13 15:00:31

A friend of mine is moving from Australia to the UK with her cat in a few weeks time & has engaged the services of a company who specialise in transporting animals around the globe. Unhelpfully, I can't remember the company name, but there seem to be a few who offer this service.

Good luck with the move - all of it, I mean, not just the feline-transporting aspects smile

CanucksoontobeinLondon Sat 12-Oct-13 18:22:09

Thank you very much for the information, everybody. I feel very reassured.

basildonbond Sun 13-Oct-13 17:37:34

We imported our cat from Dubai in May. It is staggeringly expensive (cost more for him to come one way than an economy return for me and two dc) however he was completely untraumatised by the whole experience and it all went v smoothly (apart from him weeing on his blanket)

Sasso Mon 14-Oct-13 11:28:33

We imported our cats from the USA to the UK recently I have to be honest, it was headache and we used a pet relocation agency who were supposed to make it easier for us. They, the vet and I scoured the paperwork and regulations weeks beforehand to make sure we met the requirements, and thankfully had no problems.
Make sure you keep the vaccinations, particularly rabies, up to date. We had to get a special approved crate, a really big one, the animal has to able to stand upright and turnaround. Like someone else said, they can't be tranquilized, the aircraft will refuse them if they are.
Can't say our cats enjoyed the experience but they arrived safely.
Good luck!

tb Tue 15-Oct-13 15:52:05

Please bear in mind that they may decide not to drink en route and could get dehydrated. Even if they normally have dried food, it would be an idea to feed them wet food for a few days until you know they are ok.

Our cat flew from Manchester to Bordeaux with a night in Paris, and got quite dehydrated and we had to take her to the vets.

southchinasea Thu 17-Oct-13 22:45:18

My 3 travelled in from borneo to the UK and made the transition really smoothly. I was so worried beforehand but they settled immediately, even though a huge change! Good luck with your move.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Sat 19-Oct-13 18:59:08

THanks everybody. Incidentally, DH checked with the airline and everybody who said they cannot be tranked was quite right. DH then emailed the senior vet at the veterinary office where we received the advice to tranquilize the cats, stating that this was the advice we received, but it was dramatically at odds with the advice the airline was giving (he didn't mention Mumsnet). We didn't want to get the junior vet who'd given us this advice into bad trouble, but it was inappropriate advice medically.

Senior vet emailed DH back, apologizing, and saying he'd spoken to the junior vet involved. So hopefully there will be no more bad travel advice going out from that veterinary office. I felt like a bit of a heel, getting her in trouble with her boss, but DH felt it was the most appropriate course of action, and I couldn't really disagree. And he was willing to be the bad guy by being the one to send the email.

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 19-Oct-13 19:01:47

She needs to know now though, before someone opens a carrier to a dead cat.

CanucksoontobeinLondon Sat 19-Oct-13 19:11:26

Very true.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 19-Oct-13 22:09:56

Glad you are getting it sorted out. Never yet had a dehydrated cat arrive in quarantine. However, most of ours came through ACS Heathrow and if they have any concerns they have the cat out the of let them eat drink and stretch their legs before continuing their onward journey.

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