Bringing a cat to China...
July 31, 2012 2:53 AM   Subscribe

Advice on bringing cat to China while teaching English...

Asking for roommate who has a contract to go teach in China for two years. The school will let her bring a cat into the provided housing but the websites we're reading have contradictory advice on quarantine/cost/etc. She will be teaching near Jinan. Has anyone brought a cat to China before? What was your experience like? Is it possible to do on an extremely limited budget? I've looked at previous threads but none quite seemed to fit.
posted by eleanna to Pets & Animals (11 answers total)
I can't speak to the going to China part. But the bringing back home again part may have onerous quarantine regulations that contribute to the expense/worthwhileness. Investigate that also.
posted by taff at 3:30 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't unless I was absolutely confident about the housing, living arrangements and others in the same accommodation. It's not clear about where you're from, but consideration should also be given to repatriating the cat on return.

As FYI, I have a cat that I moved to family in NZ (I'm in Australia) during my 3-ish years in China. It would have taken months, if not longer to complete the quarantine on my return if I'd had her with me. As it was, it was a much simpler task and I still got to see her whenever I returned home.
posted by michswiss at 3:32 AM on July 31, 2012

Sorry, we're in the U.S. and would be returning there.
posted by eleanna at 3:33 AM on July 31, 2012

Do not take the cat there, unless you're prepared to leave it there. Bringing the cat back will be a months-long process, prohibitively expensive (and that's for the quarantine, I'm not even addressing the flights), and after all that they may decide the cat is not safe.
posted by smoke at 3:56 AM on July 31, 2012

There appears to be no quarantine coming back, but there is a quarantine going in. You can find some relevant documentation at and

Having imported a cat into the US on a long flight, I can say that you (or your friend) should SERIOUSLY consider the stress of a 12+ hour travel journey on both you and your cat. This is not a task to be undertaken lightly, and is stressful as SHIT. Even assuming that everything is smooth sailing (ie no quarantine, no flight delays, a setup place to arrive quickly at w/ litter etc), which it probably won't be: cats do not enjoy flights. They do not enjoy being relocated. If you have family or close friends in the area and are coming back after two years, my recommendation would be to leave your pet at home for the duration.
posted by Phredward at 6:51 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't know about China, but I took my (at the time) 3-year-old Boston terrier to Korea for three years. There was no quarantine on the way there, AND no quarantine on the way back. Generally, there is usually only a quarantine in island countries that do not yet have a significant rabies problem.

I used a pet transport company the first time around because I didn't know what I was doing. Cost was literally about the same price as my own plane ticket, though they did microchip him and keep in overnight in Amsterdam at a facility, instead of having him hang out in a cargo storage area until we arrived. Depending on the size of the animal, you can sometimes fly with them in coach. My dog was too big.

On the way back, we paid for him as extra cargo on a United flight. We flew from Seoul to SF, where we were able to walk him at a dog park on the airport grounds before checking him again for the final flight to Houston. This method was significantly cheaper than the pet transport company.

I'd recommend checking airline websites for more info, and the links provided by Phredward. In our case, we went with the pet transport company because we were flying from Houston in May with a short-snouted dog, which airlines will not cargo if the temperature is above a certain point. Since we flew back home in November that wasn't an issue.

That said, smoke's advice isn't exactly correct, and my experience was completely different than Phredward's. If you have everything in order (shots, paperwork) before you go the country will not deny entry. Dog is now 10 years old and very happy/healthy. We had no issues at all with either relocation. I would submit that it's JUST as stressful asking your pet to adjust to a new home and family for two years then ripping him away again as it would be to relocate with the pet.

I had an American friend in Korea who moved to Australia after her stint in Asia. Australia does have a 6-month quarantine. Her cat was 12 years old, and she still did it, without issue. She later moved back to the states with the same cat.

Feel free to Memail me if your friend has more questions. I still have all the paperwork from my move to Korea.
posted by Brittanie at 2:12 PM on July 31, 2012

Forgot to add — your friend should also consider the societal aspects of pet ownership in another country. We lived in an apartment and so had to walk our dog on the street. Since we was bigger than a chihuahua (a whopping 27 lbs!), grown Korean men would often cower in fear of him. I am not kidding. Cats are also considered bad luck in Korea but my friend's cat never saw the outside of her apartment.
posted by Brittanie at 2:14 PM on July 31, 2012

Do due diligence on quarantine laws and all regulations, plus make absolutely sure the set up for a cat is in place with no hitches.

Addressing stress on cats flying:
We brought two cats back from Turkey to Idaho. Looooong flight. The deaf white Ankara kedi who was used to a carrier was all 'meh' whatever, but our poor feral tim cat Zeki was absolutely terrified. First, he associated his carrier with Bad Things--my fault, I should have accustomed him to it prior. Second, I wavered on giving him Benedryl, and absolutely should have--when we deplaned in the States, he was a mess, having peed all over himself, poor guy. I drugged him with the max dose at that time, cleaned him (getting majorly clawed) and the crate up, and put in a clean, dry airlines blanket the nice lady gave us. When we deplaned in Idaho, it was pretty obvious that the Benedryl made all the difference as he was dozy and not radically upset. If I were to do it again, I would drug the cat immediately and put on a Feliway collar. Also, attach a frozen water bottle in the carrier. No wet mess from spills, but the cat can lick the condensation on the sides.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:45 PM on July 31, 2012

I appreciate all of the advice, but the advice that talks about specific experiences is the most helpful. Assuming that the paperwork is completely in order, etc., the cat is healthy, housing situation is confirmed, what should she know about this that isn't on the APHIS website?
posted by eleanna at 8:48 PM on July 31, 2012

I've imported Cats to China. Here is my advice:

You will need to work with a Cat Importation company or consultant -- you'll not be able to complete the process in English, so a local agent is necessary.

I'm betting you're flying to Beijing then Jinan, so your cat will be quarantined in Beijing. Find an agent there.

Pack a bag of food atop the carrying Case so that your cat will be fed correct food while in quarantine. Also include things that smell like home.

2 weeks quarantine is required, and unavoidable.

Quarantine conditions are not nice -- our cats came out pretty traumatized (hadn't groomed, eye infections, under-fed) but otherwise OK. Be prepared to seek Vet assistance in Jinan once your cat has arrived.

US regulations about re-importing cats are pretty simple -- if they look healthy and your records are in english, you're good to go.

good luck!
posted by markovitch at 1:03 AM on August 1, 2012

Dogs and cats obviously differ, but our vet recommended against Benedryl because the animal is already confused, and medication can sometimes add to the confusion. Your friend's vet will give her the best advice.
posted by Brittanie at 7:37 AM on August 1, 2012

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