Transporting pet cats from Asia to Europe

wilburph

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It would be great if anyone has any specific advice about taking pets long-distance from the Philippines to the United Kingdom, especially whether this is likely to be affected by the current pandemic. I've already taken care of the microchipping / blood test requirements (except for the final letter from the vet before departure), I'm just worried about organising the transport itself.

After long delays processing visas and passports, my family will be ready to relocate to the UK before the end of this year. The big concern I have is taking our 2 cats on such a long and complex route. Since it would be incredibly difficult to organise this myself, and risk it disrupting our own flights, I will use a transport company to send the cats separately ahead of time, to be picked up by my parents there.

I already looked into this last year and got quotes from 2 companies listed for the Philippines on the IPATA website, which I took as some level of endorsement (although there was little in the way of social proof from reviews or Facebook comments). My worst-case-scenario paranoia is that our cats would get "accidentally lost" after a company receives payment.

It didn't help that the two quotes received were completely different, one company saying US$2700 for the full service (plus extra for door to door pickup) and the other company asking more than twice that amount and saying that a 10-day quarantine would be required at one airport along the way (which the other one said wasn't needed).

I'm planning to get back in touch with the first company to see if they're still offering this service, but I wanted to reach out for any advice first, in case anyone can recommend a reliable service or if we should just forget about trying to transport pets until 2021 or something (it was complicated enough even before Covid!)

Thank you
 

Furballsmom

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Hi! I think I would try to find a UK vet who might be better able to find information for you, especially regarding quarantining.

Have you looked into, and done, these things?
Pet Buyer Tips
 
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wilburph

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Thanks, I'll check with someone at the UK end to see what's needed, though things could change in a few months.

The transport company websites and Facebook profiles seem legitimate, since I searched for them based on what was listed on the IPATA site for the country, though pets are just a sideline to their usual goods transport services. One of them did seem to be taking advantage to some degree, since they quoted an expensive amount even for the domestic connection, so I'll probably have to trust the one that's more affordable and has a more convenient route (if they're still operating).
 

She's a witch

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Have you considered taking them with you in the cabin? I understand that the transfer company will “ship” them as cargo? Personally I wouldn’t risk this.
 
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wilburph

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The airlines here and in the nearby connecting countries are very strict about animals and don't allow them in the cabin, some don't even carry them at all (my information is pre-COVID, so maybe even stricter or impossible now). Travel time is more than 24 hours, maybe much longer depending on the route they'd have to take.
 

Furballsmom

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I've been thinking about your cats quite a lot ever since reading your first post in this thread. Of course I don't know the research you've already done, however I did some looking.

I'm seeing that the Philippines Airlines has a direct flight to London. Even if you aren't going to London or near, it might be a very valid consideration to have someone do so with the cats in order to get them there more safely, more efficiently timewise (thinking of their stress levels and correlating health) and also possibly more cheaply, and then drive onward to the final location or whatever appropriate from there.

Are you sure you can't find a Philippines Airlines flight that will carry your cats as checked baggage, or as cargo? I noticed one website (see below) mentions to let the pilot know your pet is in cargo so that they can be sure to have the temperature appropriate for a live animal.

According to farecompare . com A direct flight from Manila to London will take approximately 14 hours.

Philippines Airlines Pet Policy - Fly Your Dog or Cat Safely

Philippine Airlines Checked Baggage Pet Policy
checked baggage
If your pet is too large to fit under the seat, if it is an animal other than a dog or cat, or if it is a very long flight, as long as you are accompanying your pet, Philippine Airlines may transport your pet in the cargo section of the aircraft. This section of the cargo department has the same temperature and pressure as the passenger cabin. TIP: Be sure to tell the Captain of the aircraft that your pet is flying in the cargo hold so that they can be sure to keep the temperature at the proper level. Find more tips on airline pet travel in cargo.

Pets - Philippines Airlines

Tips for airline cargo hold pet travel -dog and cat safety

I have to say I'm extremely wary about a transport company, --not that you aren't also.
 
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wilburph

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Thank you for that, Furballsmom Furballsmom . PAL was one of the airlines I asked here and was told either didn't allow them in the cabin or didn't take them at all from our regional airport (I just remember leaving their office feeling disappointed and worried, then looking into transport companies).

Having to arrange all the paperwork for here and overseas, and worrying about getting it wrong, is what put me off trying to do it myself and wanting to pay someone to deal with it. We'll also be travelling with a baby, so I thought it would avoid hassle generally to send the pets ahead of time and give us the freedom to choose the most direct flight for ourselves (it was going to be Cathay Pacific from our regional airport to the UK regional airport with 1 stop in Hong Kong, but that Manila-London one with connections at either end might still be faster anyway).

I could ask the travel company if they'd consider the Manila-London route rather than their convoluted cargo route if I pay more. They were already going to have someone at the UK end transfer them from London to Manchester, which is closer to where we will live and avoids dealing with a busy London airport.

I am primarily worried about their safety, more than saving money. I need assurance of what would actually be happening and who'd be handling them along the way. I'll raise all these concerns and see what they say.
 

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I’ve also been thinking about your situation a lot! I moved over the ocean with two cats two years ago and I know how stressful that can be. It all went very smoothly to me and I hope it will to you too.

if you have to spend so much money for a transport company anyway, how about finding a trusted person (or persons) and finance them a round trip ticket to take your cats in the cabin (it seems it’s possible from the info Furballsmom Furballsmom posted but of course you’d need to verify it. It’s probably the regional flight that may not take them in the cabin. That was a case for me, I could only take one cat in the cabin on a Luxembourg- Paris route, then two to Seattle. We chose to take a train to Paris instead. Maybe that person would be able to take alternative transport regionally?). Would that make sense economically? It would be so much safer for them.
I know that in Europe it’s not uncommon for flight attendants to provide such service. Or maybe it would be possible to hire for that someone who already is taking such route. In Europe there are online forums for breeders where people advertise the in-cabin transport possibility. It’s probably not for people with trust issues though.

I know lots of people ship cats in the baggage/cargo space with great success, but when I was preparing for my journey, I’ve heard so many horrible stories that I would do anything to avoid this. The sheer thought of my cats being alone in the kennel in a dark and cold place, with other stressed animal, scares me. How would they eat? How would they drink? Would they even pee? How they would react when they wake up from sedation if used (and they will if the flight is super long). Even if the worst won’t happen (it won’t!), it’s still scary. My friends could hear their dog barking cryingly from down there for the whole duration of their flight. It’s hard enough, but if I imagine my cats next to such barking dog for 10+ hours...i also read the story last year when baggage handlers mishandled the kennel and it opened and the scared cat run away on the airport strip, never to be found. I don’t want to scare you, I’m writing it so that you know what to mitigate/ask the company/airlines if you decide to ship them in the cargo or as luggage.

I also know that UK has one of the most complicated rules about pets (we had to avoid flying through London for that reason) so I understand you wish someone else to deal with the paperwork. And now that UK is no longer part of the EU, these rules probably changed very recently as well (EU pet passport no longer required maybe?) so it totally makes sense for professionals to deal with it. Maybe there are transfer company that transfer pets in a cabin? Or they deal with paperwork only (so that you could use someone else for transport in a cabin only).

Good luck to you, it’s great that you have lots of time and started preparation so early!
 

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when baggage handlers mishandled the kennel and it opened and the scared cat run away on the airport strip, never to be found.
Utilize zip ties to keep the kennel/carrier closed.
There really is quite a lot of good info on this site, including considering the timing of moving them - what with possibly heavier holiday travel, and also the weather for when they're being moved from the plane to the tarmac, for example.
Tips for airline cargo hold pet travel -dog and cat safety

Would they even pee?
If they're like my boy, they won't unless they absolutely must. Utilize reusable pee pads possibly (they're thicker than the disposable ones which would just get mashed into a corner of the carrier by the animal's moving around), or even a strip of carpet fastened with double-sided tape that could help to wick the moisture away from the cat's body.

I need assurance of what would actually be happening and who'd be handling them along the way.
I know lots of people ship cats in the baggage/cargo space with great success
If I may say, try and focus on the more positive perspective, gathering all the info you can, and determining if you're comfortable with the answers you receive :)
 
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wilburph

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I've read before that airlines don't allow pets in the cabin for flights over 12 hours, some say even 8 hours. I can't see Philippine Airlines allowing it anyway. The noise would be really annoying for other passengers too, cargo is more appropriate as long as it's physically safe with the temperature and handling.
 
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wilburph

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One of the cats has been blind since we found him as a kitten, three years old now, but he's otherwise fine. (A vet thought she could treat it a while ago, but couldn't). His need for a sealed-off garden (or to be an indoor cat) is why I can't really leave him with anyone here, rather than risking travel.

If it was only the other cat, I'd ask family here to take care of her like they do with other outdoor cats, since she started out as a friendly stray/feral cat in that neighborhood anyway.
 

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One more thought, does the vet think those eyes can handle the increased pressure of a flight?

I found this in regards to pets sitting on the tarmac;
When working with pet shipping companies like ours, PetRelocation, we work with the airlines on loading/unloading the pets separately from the rest of the cargo. This basically means that the pets will never sit on the tarmac, as the airlines will shuttle them to/from the plane when its time for them to load/unload - rather than sending them with the general cargo.

I realize you're not actually doing this for a bit yet, but thinking of this cat in particular, something that's not typically mentioned is to have an article of your clothing (think sweaty socks) in the carrier so that they have something that smells of you with them as they go through this move.

Of course some things here won't apply, but there's some good info;
How To Move With Your Cat To A New Home In A Safe Way – TheCatSite Articles

9 Tips That Will Help Your Kitten Adapt To A New Apartment – TheCatSite Articles
 
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wilburph

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It wasn't mentioned, and I hadn't thought of that. It keeps getting better, doesn't it? Just one nightmare day, then they can continue to be spoiled as normal and forget about it.
 
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