Moving with Cats In Europe

As some might already know, after getting a job offer (too good to turn down) for the other half at the European Comission and several hours of repeating “OMG” histerically, we decided to move to Brussels. Making the decision was the easiest part even though I had a hard time accepting that I will need to learn French at some point.

We never even gave a second thought to leaving the cats behind, so I started to organize their move to Brussels.

Choosing the way of travel

It is really up to your comfort level. Belgium is pretty easy to travel to and from all parts of Europe, and there are pretty basic rules to adhere. Unlike the UK, where animals can only travel to as cargo small animals can enter Belgium in the cabin of an airplane if their container box matches the airline’s criteria. Also, the number of pets that can be carried on the aircraft for a journey is limited. You can find all info for Brussels Air here. Please bear in mind, that low cost airlines will generally refuse to ship animals, even in cargo.

Going on a train is an option, but bus companies generally won’t accept animals on board. As I wanted to take my car with me, the cheapest option remained to drive to Brussels. The journey from Hungary (1340km) is about 13 hours, but when you travel with pets it will last longer as you will have to stop more frequently.

Paperwork

All they need is an EU  pet passport for movements within the EU. A valid rabies vaccination is the only requirement for travel across borders. To connect the pet to the passport, the animal must be fitted with an electronic microchip or have a clearly readable tattoo, applied before 3 July 2011. More info can be found on this link.

If you are travelling to or from the UK please read this through: click 🙂 as tapeworm treatment might be needed and rules seem to be very strict.

eu pet passport
EU pet passports

Preparation

Check all papers and dates of vaccination beforehand and make sure your carrier box is suitable for the travel and your pet has space to move around in it. Doors must be closed firmly. If you accept my advice, dog nappy should be put in the bottom of the container, as little “accidents” can happen in 16 hours. Avoid feeding your pet at least for 12 hours before the travel, as they will be nervous and can get motion sick, too. I don’t recommend sedating them fully, as their body temperature can drop and it can cause kidney and liver failures.

They will want to come out. Don’t fall for it 🙂

You can, and should offer them water but they won’t drink until they calmed down.

They will survive the journey, even when their meowing sounds very desperate. 🙂

Here is my story of our trip: Málna was completely calm. No meows, no moving around. She was staring out the window and sleeping most of the time. Xeni had a few tries on the “meows”. She was given a little portion of a very weak sedative, which was completely natural and our vet was happy to offer. She didn’t sleep a lot, but wasn’t nervous either. On the other hand, Blacket was a nightmare. He was given a little sedative but nothing worked. He managed to meow for 11 hours full-stop. Without a break. His voice was literally going after 8 hours, so I though the will be mute by the time we get there. He desparately wanted out, the tried to tear the box apart, he peed in the box, and pushed his nose to the sides of the container so hard it almost bled. He does not like to travel at all.

These things are normal, they happen, don’t panic. He was all fine when we arrived, he ran around happily the next minute. Ate, drank normally and explored the new home. He slept with me that night and I woke up to his huge cat kisses. 🙂

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