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traveling with pets

cat carriersTruly the most frightening thing I’ve done in my life.   And I’ve been to the Middle East.

A couple of things you should know if you’re thinking about doing it yourself:

  • It’ll cost you.   No matter what, you’ll need carriers, up to date rabies shots and certificates as well as microchips inserted.   Oh yeah, and collars with tags, wee wee pads, little bottles for water, a few toys….   And whether you can bring your pet(s) on board or have to check them with the luggage, there are all kinds of fees.   I think I paid $250/cat, just to check them.  That’s one way, mind you.
  • It’ll cost you less if you don’t take what the vet says at face value.   My NYC vet told me I couldn’t take my cats to France without an absurdly expensive battery of rabies tests.   I double checked with the French Embassy and found out she was wrong.   I won’t speculate on whether it was greed or stupidity that caused the mistake, because either way it’s unforgiveable.
  • Of all the airlines flying from NYC to CDG, I found Air France to be the most pet friendly, offering the clearest understanding of their rules regarding pets.   They also seem the most understanding of my anxieties.
  • If you have to check your pets with the luggage like I did, when you see them in their carrier at the other end will be one of the happiest moments of your life.   You’ll have one last hurdle…getting them through customs.   I had my paperwork ready, but we just got waved through.   Maybe I just looked too pathetic to bother.

The truth is, the anticipation of it is worse than the actual experience (well, I can’t vouch for my cats).  But it is a shame it costs so much.   Every cat should see France once in their life.

5 Responses

  1. Oh my! What a helpful post for me. I have been an expat for the past 24 years and always had 1 to 3 cats. Over the years, I – hypothetically – thought about going back several times but the idea of traveling with pets always stopped me from truly considering the possibility (I always thought if I did move back, I would have to go by ship for the cats’ sake). Did you sedate the cats for the trip?

    • I was told not to sedate the cats, so I didn’t. They did fine (I was definitely more of a mess than they were, and I was sedated).

      • I guess that’s where the expression Cool Cat came from. Just thinking about it makes me want to reach for Vitamin V. I’ve read your “the harrowing journey” and “la maison” pages. I really like your writing; contents AND style. Next I will read “musee d’absinthe” always loved Pernod and got a great book about the green fairy at a Brooklyn Museum exhibit years ago. I’m glad I came across your blog. -Kirsten

  2. I’m glad you came across my blog, too. Thanks for the kind words on my work. Someday, I hope it’ll make me solvent. Solvent, I tell ya!

    The one thing great about flying with pets is the relief you feel when you seem them at the other end, alive and well. Kind of like banging your head against a wall, I imagine.

    • I am not sure if I have the nerves for it – maybe I should ask FedEx if I can travel as freight so that I can be with the cats during the flight. The fact that I am expanding on this even though I don’t plan to relocate any time soon shows the grip this particular anxiety has on me. Duh!

      I do hope that your writing pays off soon. As far as I am concerned it’s just as good if not better as Elizabeth Gilbert’s. So it must be all about marketing. Your book reminds me of A Year in Provence – maybe for the US market it would be great to have your blog as an audiobook – Lake Wobegone meets France – so people can listen while stuck in traffic or on the subway. Bonne chance!

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