Looking for recommendations on how to move a cat from China to America
December 11, 2019 12:26 AM   Subscribe

We are currently fostering a friend's cat, and we really like the cat. It has a personality very well suited to what we want in a cat. The catch is that sometime next year we will likely move from China to America, and I'm currently swimming in bureaucracy and don't want to add to that. I want to find a company to help manage the process that doesn't cost an arm and a leg...and will make it as un-traumatic as possible as the cat.

I'm not really sure what the best options are. I did some googling and there are a ton of companies that do this, I even contacted one...and it was 4500USD. I realize that the cat has to get a plane ticket etc, so it won't be cheap, but 4500USD is quite expensive for a cat...so I'm curious if anyone can recommend anything. I mean, we _can_ do it on our own, but we'd need to do bureaucratic stuff here, bureaucratic stuff in the US (the cat would need to be quarantined), and whatnot, and my life is really swimming in bureaucracy at the moment and I just don't want to take on any more if I can avoid it. Plus, I feel bad for the cat having to be stuffed in a small space for 12 hours :( though maybe that's unavoidable...

Regardless, looking for advice! If there are ways to do it myself that would reduce the trauma to the cat, I'd welcome that too!
posted by wooh to Pets & Animals (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I’ve shipped a cat many years ago from Singapore to Australia (which has about the most stringent quarantine requirements in the world) and I sympathise. Unfortunately if they’re going to be on a plane then yes, they are going to be crammed in a small space for 12 hours, there is really no getting around that. If quarantine is required to get into your country, there’s no getting around that either.

What most people do as you’ve discovered is hire a company that specialises in international pet transportation to do it. I did this and there is still endless amounts of paperwork and red tape. Lots of vet checks, vaccinations that have to be done in the correct order and sighted and signed off on..it goes on forever. For months if I recall correctly.

And that’s just what the pet company (and quarantine) requires with a company that still facilitates the process through to the quarantine destination. They can’t do all of that for you, they merely tell you what needs to be done (get this vaccination by this date, sign this form) and picks the animal up at the designated time. Re cost, what you’re being charged sounds reasonable. I mean it’s expensive but given the process involved, it’s not.

The rules surrounding quarantine and international travel are very strict, there’s no loopholes or parts you can skip because it’s tiresome unfortunately. If you don’t follow it, they won’t accept your pet at the other end so you either jump through their hoops or...I don’t know, rehome? It’s a drag. All of this is a long winded way of saying there’s no real way of making this easier. It is what it is.
posted by Jubey at 3:18 AM on December 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I realize that the cat has to get a plane ticket etc... bureaucratic stuff in the US (the cat would need to be quarantined)

I can't give any China-specific recommendations, but I have brought a cat in from another country (Burkina Faso) to the US, and I can say with confidence that neither of these things are *generally* true for bringing cats into the USA. If the cat is traveling with you, you may be able to bring it onboard with you or checked in cargo (in which case it will cost excess-baggage-extra, not additional-ticket-extra - for my Air France flight it was 200 euro; I was able to bring her in her carrier in the cabin with me, but she is small, they had a strict weight limit, YMMV). Otherwise, you might be able to have it shipped as cargo on a separate flight, which would cost more (though possibly still not as much as a seat ticket). The specific options and costs will depend on what airline you go with.

And the U.S.'s rules for bringing in cats are WAY laxer than other countries and breeds:
  • USDA: USDA APHIS Veterinary Services (VS) does not have any animal health requirements related to bringing (importing) a pet cat into the United States (U.S.) from a foreign country.
  • CDC: A general certificate of health is not required by CDC for entry of pet cats into the United States, although some airlines or states may require them. However, pet cats are subject to inspection at ports of entry and may be denied entry into the United States if they have evidence of an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans.
  • FWS: No requirement listed in CITES for felis catus
So the upshot of all that is when I got to the US, I just had to show them it was a cat in the carrier and she was not very obviously sick and they waved me through, no special inspection even. Definitely there was no quarantine.
posted by solotoro at 7:01 AM on December 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

Seconding solotoro ... my cat accompanied me in a carrier from Asia. I had her international health certificate from her Asian vet. The airline charged $300 I think. Arrived in US, they examined my paperwork, welcome to America lil kitteh. No quarantine, you can definitely do this yourself. Personally I would not ship a pet in the cargo hold if at all possible.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 7:41 AM on December 11, 2019

I brought two cats from Europe to the US in 2014. I had all the expensive paperwork done for them and everything, but when I got to customs and told them I had cats, they just idly waved me through without even looking at the papers.
posted by all the light we cannot see at 3:09 AM on December 12, 2019

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