bring a cat from US to Canada

linnea56November 13, 2006

Anyone know what I need to bring a cat from the US (Chicago) to Canada? Not permanently, just for a short vacation. Paperwork? Extra shots? Quarantine?

We are visiting my son who lives in Montreal; and he begged us to bring the cat with rather than boarding her. He's suffering from serious cat deprivation. I checked with the airline and was surprised to find that the cat can come on the plane with us ($85 US) as a carry-on or as checked baggage.

I think it would be way too stressful for the cat (and me, trying to keep her calm and quiet) but I promised I would find out the facts before dismissing the idea. She seldom has ridden in a car, much less a plane. Once arrived at the destination, though, she loves being a guest in someone's house.

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I put a link for the official US documentation you need to travel with a cat.

You need to check with the individual airline and see if there is a health certificate required and how long before the trip you need to get the exam. Most airlines do require a health certificate and exam no more than 14 days prior to the plane trip.

It is difficult to check a pet as baggage in the winter. The cargo hold area is not heated, and the airline will not let the cat go into the cargo hold if the temperature is expected to be too low (or too high for traveling in summer).

AAHA does not recommend sedation for pets in the cargo hold, but I don't know about in the cabin. I'd guess that it wouldn't be as bad since you could watch her, but what are you going to do if there is a problem?

If your cat does not travel in the car well, it is unlikely that she will take to flying. I'd do a test run of any sedative before boarding the plane. Acepromazine is the most common sedative, but it can cause paradoxical excitement in some individuals and it lowers the seizure threshold in susceptible animals. You wouldn't want to find out the ace makes your cat crazy or have seizures at 30,000 feet!

Personally I would only travel with a pet that could be in the cabin, not the cargo area. But this has never been an issue for me. I seem to have difficulty in securing invitations for Dh, myself, and 5 large dogs!

You may consider having someone petsit instead of bringing kitty along. Cats are so much easier since they can potty indoors. Anyway, most cats are just as happy to stay home than to travel.

Have a safe trip and good luck no matter what your choice for kitty.

Here is a link that might be useful: US gov travel tips

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 9:15PM
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I have only flown one animal, and he was a dog traveling from Houston, TX to Minnesota in early spring when temps were moderate. He traveled in the climate-controlled portion of the cargo hold. As Meg mentioned, airlines will refuse to transport animals in the cargo hold when temps are either too cold or too hot (apparently their climate control isn't all that great in the cargo area). Also, the airline strictly forbid the use of any sedative in an animal onboard the aircraft. If I remember correctly, it had something to do with potentially very dangerous side effects of sedatives on animals at high altitude. There were also regulations regarding other types of medication, as well. An interstate health certificate was required, and in your case I expect there would be some sort of additional international paperwork involved, as well.

You should also consider the total length of time your cat will need to remain crated between leaving your home and arriving at your son's. Would she be able to comfortably hold her urine and bowel movements for that length of time in a small carrier that would fit under your seat in the cabin, or would she require a larger crate that could hold a litterbox and food and water bowls that would necessitate travel in the cargo area?

I agree with Meg. Your cat will be less stressed and probably a whole lot happier left at home with a responsible petsitter. Have you considered getting your cat-deprived son a feline companion for Christmas?


    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 12:02AM
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I've driven my dogs in the car across the US/Cda border numerous times and all that was required was an up to date certificate for rabies. That being the case I have never been asked to show it in either direction. That is driving though, I'm sure the airlines will want to see it beforehand. I would never fly my dogs let alone a cat..too many horror stories about them not being put in the climate controlled baggage area etc. Being left out on the tarmac in freezing/boiling weather etc. is enough to put me off.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 12:10AM
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This is good! More ammunition to say "no" to bringing the cat.

My son really misses her. He was the one that picked her out from the animal shelter 7 years ago. I just hope he isn't feeling so cat-deprived that he adopts one there. He's a college student in a studio apartment and it would be unfair. Plus for trips home, what would HE do with a cat??

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 12:24AM
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I have considered taking my cat with us when we fly to our vacation home sometime. If we decide to stay long enough (one month) then he will have no choice!

Anyhow, from what I have learned the cat is best kept in a soft sided carrier under the seat. The only scary part about the whole thing is the cat must be removed from the carrier and the carrier x-rayed. I am afraid my cat would freak out and struggle in my arms. So, some kind of harness might be necessary.

Lastly, I read on the internet that an antihistimine can be given that we produce slight sleepiness but does not have the effects of a total tranquilizer.

Good luck and let us know what you decide!

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 8:34AM
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And if you fail to comply with a single airline requirement, you miss your flight and your trip plans are ruined.
You might be able to take the cat with you in the cabin if it fits under your seat

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 12:01PM
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Surely your son will understand that the stress might be too much for the kitty, especially at her age with no previous exposure to that type of situation.

Maybe there is an animal shelter or rescue group that would allow him to foster one cat at a time? That would satisy his need for an animal around, but would only be a temporary situation for the cats (better than a cage in a shelter).

Just a thought.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2006 at 2:34PM
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YOu will need to make certain that her shots are up to date and that you have the rabies cert with you and also a copy on the carrier/crate.
This paperwork must have a description of the animal and also your information on it with valid address etc. The more info you bring the better, even if you never get asked it will save alot of headaches. Most Border Officer on the Canadian side will not ask for the paperwork if the animal appears to be in good health and well cared for. The assumption is that if you care enough about your animal to birng it with you, you will have have it checked by a vet, also we have had some bad experiences with animals being refused entry.....namely the guy went back across the bridge and tossed the dog over, turned around and came back through customs.....S.O.B, but nothing we could do about it. We did not have the authority....very sad.

This only applies to cats and dogs. Other animals have different requirements.

Hope this helps

    Bookmark   November 29, 2006 at 3:47PM
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