Whaddya mean, I can't take my cat to Turkey?
May 21, 2011 6:42 PM   Subscribe

So, I'm almost 90% sure that I'd like to go teach over in Turkey. I've applied for a passport, I'm looking for jobs, I have friends over there looking for jobs for me, and now all I have to do is finish this last semester of my Master's in English... Wait a minute, what do they mean, I shouldn't bring my cat?

A couple of my friends who are native to Turkey (and especially Istanbul) said that bringing my cat, Mr. Mister isn't a good idea. They said it would cost too much to fly him there and it would be almost impossible for me to find any kind of housing that would accept pets -- at least in the price range that I can afford (starving grad student here, just starting out there with not much). They also said that keeping cats isn't really "done" in Turkey... unless one lives in the country.

I'm quite fond of Mr. Mister and he's been shuttled around quite bit in his life, I don't want to foist him off on yet another owner. My roommate said that if push comes to shove, and I know I'm coming back then she'll keep him for a year or two (not the best option, but...). She also said that if I do decide to take him, she'll help me out with the health check up, the micro-chipping and the shots (we have a vet school here where she's a resident).

So, what's a person to do? Is it really that unfeasible to bring my cat to Istanbul? Has anyone else on a burger budget (just above a shoestring) done it? Or should I kiss Mr. Mister good-bye and hope I see him again soon?

I tried looking for the answer in Google, but all I got was "how" to move a cat to Turkey. Those answers assumed that the person already had accommodations and money to do this. Not quite what I'm looking for.

Any insight would be helpful.
posted by patheral to Travel & Transportation around Turkey (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Have you seen this somewhat related AskMe? "Why are there so many cats in Istanbul?"
posted by Houstonian at 6:49 PM on May 21, 2011

Best answer: I probably wouldn't bring him.

First, having a cat makes you a lot less flexible for housing - as a renter, as a roommate, and when you're moving place to place, what will you do with Mr. Mister?

Second, what if it doesn't work out? It is in the realm of possibilities, you know. TEFL jobs are tough.

Third, Turkey is full of awesome cats.

Fourth, you're only going for a year or two. That's not really that long and you have someone already that would take him.

I say this as a person that has seen various successes and failures with ex-pats trying to have pets in-country.
posted by k8t at 6:49 PM on May 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Houstonian, I did see that, but I don't think it addressed my question exactly...

K8t, you said, nearly word for word, what my Turkish friends said (except for the TEFL being tough - which I know it can be. They don't want to scare me away). ^_^

Also, our cats do look a lot a like.
posted by patheral at 7:57 PM on May 21, 2011

I wonder how healthy the abundant stray cats in Turkey are. If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat, I'd worry about him picking up diseases from contact (fighting) with local cats.

As for costs once you're past the vet visits... To bring my cats into the EU, I had to pay the USDA to certify their paperwork (I forget, $80 per cat maybe?), buy a decent crate, water bottle, and crate liner pad (under $50), and pay the airline for their transport ($200 per animal). I also restricted myself to finding a direct flight to reduce the stress, which may have added some cost. For the return trip you'll need to make another vet visit or two in Turkey for updated vaccines and a health check close to the flight. (You might check what the US requires to bring animals into the country from Turkey--it's very easy from the EU, but from some countries they may require blood tests. The USDA governs this. You should also consider doing 3-year vaccines for rabies and FVRCP (as opposed to annuals) so you may be able to do the whole trip without having to update the shots.)

A few random comments: 1. some airlines (e.g. Delta) won't take cats into the cargo hold during the summer months (cabin would still be OK); 2. flying with a cat means having to take your cat out of the carrier in the airport for security screening--no matter whether the cat's going in the cabin or cargo hold. If your cat is nervous, this could be difficult.

One more thought: if you think you'll want to travel extensively while in Turkey, you'll need to find someone to look after your cat while you're away. This can be tricky when you don't have much of a local network of friends--asking newly made friends to feed your cat for 2 or 3 weeks might be a stretch.

All that said, obviously I brought my cats. :)
posted by mvd at 2:37 AM on May 22, 2011

Pretty selfish to bring the cat. It would be happier staying put.
posted by tarvuz at 5:22 AM on May 22, 2011

mvd's comment reminded me: if you want to fly with a pet, don't do Delta. Search Consumerist if you want some horrible stories on how poorly they treat pets. Not quite on topic, but important to know.
posted by gilsonal at 5:50 AM on May 22, 2011

Also not quite on topic, but teachers coming to Korea are told the same thing - it's not worth it to bring your cat / dog / albino lobster. There are plenty of animals to care for, and Mr. Mister will have a wonderful, stress-free home.

If you're absolutely dead-set on bringing them, don't tell the apartment complex, and don't make it obvious you have a pet. Also, be prepared to change his habits / lifestyle to fit your new situation.
posted by chrisinseoul at 8:29 AM on May 22, 2011

Response by poster: I suppose it would be selfish to try and take him with me since I will be flitting around for the first few months, trying to get all settled down. Since it's just me (and Mr.) then it might be better to leave him here in the lazy South where he can chase squirrels & birds than throw him into the hustle and bustle of a big city where he might be chased by feral cats (should he ever get out of the apt.).

Thanks y'all.
posted by patheral at 10:07 AM on May 22, 2011

If you miss having a kitteh friend around the house while you're there, I suggest fostering! I lived in Turkey for almost 2 years, and while I was there I got in touch with a (rare for Turkey, but super awesome) vet who rescued injured street animals. I took 1-2 kittens at a time back to my apartment. Most of them were recovering from dog bites or being hit by cars, and some spent their last days in my care (which was devastating, but I'm glad I got to give them lots of love and snuggles right up until the end). The vets paid for all the medical care, I paid for the food/litter, and whenever I needed to leave for vacation, I'd simply return them to the vet. Once they were domesticated and recovered enough, they'd usually get adopted by a Turkish family.

So, if you're in Istanbul, I definitely suggest helping out some needy street cats!
posted by hasna at 8:39 PM on May 22, 2011

Question: why can't a I take a cat from Turkey, and give it a home, if it chooses to allow me to?
posted by Apocryphon at 2:23 AM on July 3, 2011

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