I am known to some as the calm type. I keep my cool, no panic. It’s like I always have cruise control, and it runs seamlessly. It took me a while to understand why people would think that when I had million sponge bobs running around in my head. I have an anxious side, but I also have a logical side that materializes the issues. And now I feel like I have written about this before… Curiouser and curiouser?!
I am not a person that would write down pros and cons lists or create an organized journal for tasks to do. So I am not exactly Monica from Friends, but I still would like to be in control and plan. For example, I read about the requirements to move a cat to Europe the day I decided to move back earlier than I had in mind. I had checked whether the cat’s chip was ISO-compliant the day I adopted her. I have also chosen airlines’ preferred carrier and have used it for five years. If there is a remote chance of something happening, I still try to be prepared for it. Of course, I still miss some things; I learned with time not to beat myself up for it.
This was the cat’s second move, but moving from the USA to Canada is less demanding. For that move, I only needed a health certificate from the vet with a wet signature and a rabies certificate. Then voila, you are good to go. AirCanada was accepting pets in the cabin, and thanks to my preparedness, she could keep using the carrier she got used to. The flight is a short one, 1.5h max. She didn’t make a peep the entire journey.
Moving from Canada to Europe required a bit more work, but both agriculture departments in Sweden and Canada have explained everything in detail. I had to make sure appointments were within certain dates of each other and ask our vet to correct their record of her. The vet’s office (Davisville Park Animal Hospital) made a huge deal about sending them the paperwork to fill in waaay in advance because it would take so much time. They would also charge for filling out the paperwork, which is fine, it’s extra work, and they approve an official document taking on responsibility. But I am questioning the whole process now, after how the appointment went. Let’s start from the beginning. Here is what I did step by step.
- Check out the requirements, make a note of the vaccination dates
- Make an appointment for an early rabies vaccination
- Call CFIA to make an appointment based on the potential travelling dates. The certificate must be no older than ten days so pick a date that is close to your flight date but not exactly ten days before if you haven’t booked your ticket yet. It could happen that the flight has reached the pet limit, or flight might get cancelled if you flying in December. Also, the Toronto CFIA office doesn’t handle animal health services, so you must go to Markham or Missasuaga offices. Strangely, they don’t provide the address on their website, just a phone number. But Google maps has the locations marked.
- Book your flights, and reserve the spot for the cat.
- Go to vaccination appointment. Get told how much work is to fill in those papers works. Get charged for a wellness exam. Finally, convince the vet that her eyes are of different sizes and somewhat permanent (they brushed it off months before as some episode triggered by a viral infection she didn’t have – she might have had, but there was no evidence supporting it). They at least checked if it was glaucoma this time. Pay for a wellness check and the glaucoma test.
- Reserve the appointment for the paperwork and final exam the day before the CFIA appointment.
- Check the rabies certificate and realize they haven’t filled in her chip number. Call to request a fix for that. Check the older certificates and realize they never filled in her chip number. They probably never read her chip to this day.
- Collect the paperwork, and create a long and detailed email about each attachment. Also, ask them to fix her date of birth because, surprise, it was wrong, and you have not realized it till now.
- E9.207 Health Certificate
- E9.204 Owner’s declaration (it is part of the health certificate if you download it from Canada. Despite that I was still asked to fill this in at the airport)
- Rabies certificate (wet signature, chip number, details about the vaccine)
- Chip certificate (I just registered it to a free website and got a document from there, but they didn’t seem to care much about it)
- For CFIA, travel documents for the cat
- Go to the appointment. Get a preventive treatment for parasites and fleas. Get asked whether you have the paperwork with you, and tell them you emailed it a while back. Get a little annoyed because the cat had been particularly nervous during this appointment, likely because of her previous experience during the vaccination appointment. It sounds like they are clueless about what you have sent them.
- Leave the exam room, and wait for the vet to fill in the paperwork while you wait with a stressed cat. They forget to update her rabies certificate with the correct date of birth, so you ask them if they could please fix that too. Pay 276CAD for the paperwork + 180CAD for the exam.
- Leave the cat at home to go buy a blue ink pen because the vet hasn’t circled in any of the required information, so you have to do that yourself. Wonder, what is the big fuss about paperwork requiring so much time if they weren’t even going to look at it?
- Come back to find a poisoned cat. Because of that preventive treatment, you opted for has been applied to an area where she can easily lick, and you weren’t warned about it being so poisonous. This one is not similar to other preventive topical solutions you got before. Luckily, her symptoms ease off towards the evening.
- You fill in the paperwork for SAS airlines, only to forget to print it. You go to the library to print and fill that the day of the travel.
- At the airport, the staff keeps asking you whether you need a copy of the form you have filled in for SAS; you keep telling them you don’t think you need it, but they don’t listen to you. They sort of panic that you don’t have a copy of it. Geez, that one-page document already contains two copies, you just approve it, rip it in half and give me one-half of it and keep the other one.
And with that, you have all your paperwork for the cat, you take your flight and hope for the best. At customs, we were greeted by an officer who knew his job and helped us. He even checked whether there was an English copy of a form because it is now a must to register your cat in Gothenburg and whether I could access it without bank-id.
So long story short, when you are moving with the cat from Canada to EU: make sure you can get an appointment from CFIA in time for your flight. Check the cost of the paperwork with your vet beforehand, and make sure the rabies certificate also makes it clear that it’s revaccination (or have the last year’s certificate with you). Everything is detailed and explained on the websites nicely. Don’t let your vet confuse you by talking about this and that test. What’s needed is written out there.
I hope we will find a better vet this time around. I can be anxious about health issues and drag the cat to the vet. I have been ignorant once and it turned out she had hurt her knee. I am not repeating that mistake ever again.