I appreciated a previous article about traveling with a cat..I never thought I would be doing this but I will share my experience about traveling to Japan with 2 cats..Let me preface it by saying I am so glad I could bring them with me.
I recently retired from American Airlines and moved to Japan for missionary work. I have 2 cats: KC
who is 18 years old and Simone who is 13 years old..I didn't know if it would be possible to take them and I heard other reports about it was too traumatic.. Well I sure did not want to dump them in an animal shelter..Thanks to the prayers of my Sunday school class at church they are here and doing great..
Under Japanese quarantine laws the cats had to have health certificates issued by the USDA and I had to notify Animal Quarantine Services in Japan 40 days prior to my arrival..The cats would need to be quarantined in a special facility at Tokyo Narita Airport for 14 days upon arrival into Tokyo
(The new quarantine rules go into effect June 2005..pets must have a microchip implanted, have 2 rabies vaccinations and a rabies antibody titer drawn 180 days prior to arrival in Japan). If all this has been done there is no quarantine period required..Otherwise they can face up to 180 days in quarantine. Japan has been rabies free for 48 years).
If you are thinking about traveling with a pet, the best person is to check with is your veterinarian..That's the first place I should have gone, and he assured me they would be fine..He did not even recommend I tranquilize the cats because it can have an even worse affect when it wears off..He also said they may not enjoy the travel but they would be fine.
Even though I lived in Irving, Texas the USDA requires pets be given water every 12 hours, so it was necessary to connect through Los Angeles.
My sisters came with me and the plan was to take the cats in the cabin for the domestic flight and then in cargo to Tokyo. The last 2 days up to my departure had been one thing after the other (the morning I was going to depart I lost my keys and spent 30 minutes looking for them). The cats did fine on the LAX
flight..I think they were more stressed from the ride to DFW
. They meowed some but otherwise they did great. Because we got to LAX
too late, I decided to stay in a hotel overnight and I sent my sisters back to DFW
. (If you ever are traveling with a pet, the Sheraton Four Points Lax is a great place...they do allow pets and it is very reasonable)..I went to get some pet supplies (like litter and a litter box and food), and we had a nice relaxing evening at the hotel..The cats were still doing great.
The next morning I checked in at LAX
, purchased hard sided carriers for the cats and said goodbye..The cats had to fly in cargo for this international flights. Just for your information, when you travel with a pet in cargo, the pilots are notified of live animals in cargo. On this flight, which was a 777, all cargo compartments are pressurized..2 of them are heated..and the cat carriers are secured in cargo.
flight was very smooth, with little turbulence. Most airports have jetbridges but because they were in use at NRT
we had to be bussed to the terminal. I'm glad we did, because as I was on the bus, I could see the 2 cat carriers being unloaded. It was an 11 hour flight.
Don't ask me why, but sometimes I've breezed through customs at NRT
(and other airports)..this time I had to wait for an hour. I could hear the cats meowing as I was headed to the baggage claim area. They were stressed but otherwise fine..I petted and reassured them we are here.
I went to Animal Quarantine and was met there. A veterinarian examined the cats (they were fine), and they were moved to quarantine.
I was able to visit them in quarantine and the personnel there assured me that most animals do fine coming through there. Both cats were kept in the same room together and that helped.
Finally I was able to bring them home. KC
, who is a Siamese cat meowed a lot the first night and I remember getting out of bed at 4:00AM just to hold her and reassure her.
Today they are doing great and you would never think I brought them all the way to Japan (thank you for your prayers, Irving Bible Church), but I did..and I'm so glad they are here.
To those of you who might think this is cruel treatment, the cats were not traumatized during the process..They were treated very well (I don't even want to think of the trauma of having to drop them off at an animal shelter..for me and for them)..It is possible for pets to travel long distances..but the best person to check with first is your veterinarian..
I would not want to repeat this experience, but I'm so thankful I could bring the cats to Japan with me