Clea’s First International Flight

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Everything you need to know about moving a cat from the US to Sweden.

I rescued Clea eight years ago, so when Nick and I decided to move abroad, of course she was coming with. Before this trip, Clea had never been on an airplane. She had, however, done the 14-hour drive from Los Angeles, CA to Eugene, OR four times (although three of the four times were broken into two 7-hour days). During these drives, she has been in and out of her crate and was always constantly meowing. They have never been fun for either of us, and I was dreading the flight to Sweden.

So here is what you need to do and know if you are moving a cat from the US to Sweden.

ASAP: Some of the requirements have time constrictions, so start researching now!

  1. Start with the Jordbruks verket website as soon as you seriously consider moving abroad. This is the Swedish Board of Agriculture and it breaks down everything you need. Things to know:
    1. The US is a listed country.
  2. Your cat needs a microchip (or a tattoo from before June 3rd, 2011).
  3. Your cat needs to have been rabies vaccinated or boosted post-microchipping. The primary vaccination needs to happen 21 days before traveling.
  4. Understand how you are able to bring your cat into Sweden. Only two airports allow for pet immigration. If you are going through another EU country, you will have to clear customs there, so research their regulations as well.

Once your flights are booked:

  1. Call the airline and reserve a seat for your cat within 24 hours of booking. The airlines have limits of usually 7 pets on board, and only 3ish of them can be cats. So book early if possible. Also, you will need to have your cat’s weight on hand.
  2. Check the airline’s pet weight and maximum cat carrier size requirements. It might be time to get Fluffy on a diet to get under the 5kg weight limit.
  3. Order your carrier now and get your pet familiar. I also ordered this travel litter box (worked great) and brought two large ziplock bags of cat litter with me. Plus wet wipes, plastic bags, food/water bowls, and a harness and leash.

10 days before your flight:

  1. Have your vet fill out the Veterinary Health Certificate Form (E9.207). Be sure to schedule this appointment in advance. Know that it can cost over $200. Be sure the vet’s signature is in blue ink!
  2. Ask your vet for a sedative and be sure to have extras so you can have a few practice rounds to get the dosage right. Try for drops or a liquid option so you do not have to feed your cat before the long flight.
  3. Visit your local USDA office (again be sure to schedule this appointment in advance!) for the required stamp on the Veterinary Health Certificate Form. It will cost $38.
  4. Sign the Owner Declaration form (E9.204).
  5. You will need to bring all of these papers to Sweden so keep them on you or in a carry on. Do not check them in case your luggage gets lost.

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Day of the flight:

  1. No food and water in the morning. I know, it sucks. But a hungry cat is much better to deal with than one that is forced to pee on himself and his carrier because he can’t access a litter box. Just be sure to give him a big feed the night before!
  2. Prepare for security with your cat. You will have to remove your cat from the carrier in the US so a harness is invaluable. Also know, you can ask for a private screening room if easier, although Clea was very willing to go back into her carrier after going through security, so the busyness of security worked to my advantage.
  3. Bring some kibble. Your kitty will get hungry, so have some dry kibble and a water bowl handy if you have a layover as we did. If not, a few kibbles into the carrier might be appropriate. But honestly, your cat will be fine without food for 12 hours.
  4. Explain to your seat neighbors that you and your cat are traveling to Europe. I found that a blanket helped create darkness and settle Clea (and muffle any meows…) and I’m sure buying a drink for a seat neighbor would help a lot if your cat is howling.

Once in Sweden:

  1.  Be sure to declare your cat and give all papers to the customs officer to be inspected and stamped.

So there you have it! Easy, right?! *Rolls eyes*

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Honestly, it is a stressful process because the margin for error is small. But if you do the research and follow the steps, everything paperwork wise will go well. And if you are lucky like I was, your cat will sleep for the majority of the flight and won’t pee all over herself.

Welcome to your new life, little kitty!

-TM

What tips do you have for moving a pet internationally? Let us know below.

 

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2 thoughts on “Clea’s First International Flight

  1. Oh lord! I’m glad she has such an amazing owner! These are great tips! I need any you can give as I am about to schlepp mittens from LA to Denver and she has never been in the car for more than 7 hours. I am nervous about the 12-hour drive to our first resting spot in Grand Junction, before heading into Denver the following day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey Alex! I would just be sure to keep her food and water intake low the morning of – just a big feed the night before. The worst thing that could happen is she pees all over herself (ugh, the smell)! I would also try letting her roam free in the car. She can sit on your lap and hopefully just sleep. Just have a lease handy in case you need to stop and can keep her from jumping out of an open door! Good luck! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    Like

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