Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I'm such a neglectful cat owner! I haven't blogged about Kitty's grand adventure to Australia! Well, as far as I know the actual journey was uneventful, even though I was so stressed about her flying by herself I imagined all kinds of mishaps that thankfully didn't happen.

Let me start from the beginning.

Yes, we are those crazy cat people that shipped our cat from the Middle East to Australia. We own it. Judge us all you like. We couldn't leave our sweet girl behind! There is already a surplus of cats that need a home in Kuwait and if we couldn't find friends to take her we knew an overcrowded shelter would likely have to put her down eventually and that is just silly.

Yes, is was extremely expensive, but she's my baby! She's worth it.

Yes, the process is very long and drawn out, but as everyone that heard the tale of Jonny Depp's pampered puppies can attest, Australia doesn't mess around when it comes to animal immigration so we were aware of what we were getting ourselves into.

Here's the breakdown of the cat immigration process for Australia:

Step 1: Get your cat vaccinated. Australia is one of a few countries that has never had a case of rabies, so they are VERY strict about your cat having immunity before arriving in the country. Seven months before she was even allowed to travel, Kitty had to be vaccinated, we had to wait 30 days to test for immunity, and once her blood tests came back positive (or negative? Whatever result we needed to get the green light), THEN we could apply for a pet import permit.

Step 2: Pay an ungodly amount of money for the import permit. Alright, so the permit itself was only a few hundred dollars Australian, but that's still a lot of money! This step was really stressful for me because the government website is very clear that if any part of the permit was incorrect or left blank, the cat would be euthanized on arrival! I physically gasped when I read that and was very paranoid about getting every detail correct.

Step 3: Pay another ungodly amount of money for your cat's flight to Australia for 6 months after the immunization tests have come back. I was a doofus and didn't get this process started early enough (partly because it took forever for us to get accepted to grad school so I wasn't sure if we were going to be shipping her to Australia or the US) so she got booked on a flight in September and didn't travel with us to Oz. Since we couldn't check her as excess luggage and she would be flying alone, we had to book her as cargo which was REALLY STINKIN' EXPENSIVE! Like thousands of dollars expensive.

I repeat: she. is. worth. it.

Step 4: Pay yet even more money to book your cat a 10 day stay in quarantine after she arrives. Again, it cost over a thousand dollars for this required stay, but I'm told that it is down from 60 days as early as last year, so I'll take it!

Step 5: Wait. We got the import permit and flights and everything booked way back in March, and we didn't leave Kuwait until June so we had plenty of time to prepare ourselves mentally for leaving her for the summer.

Step 6: Locate a cat nanny for the summer (Philo, our cleaning lady, was amazing and checked on her every day. Even when she was hospitalized with a sickness for a couple days she sent someone to make sure our Kitty was ok), then sucker a couple of friends into watching your cat after the summer is over (Thanks Jo and Megan!!).

The snapchat sent to us by our neighbor Jo right after we left for the summer. Kitty was hiding in the closet.
Step 7: Bawl your eyes out when you have to leave your cat for the summer and you won't see her for FOUR MONTHS. I think the emotions of packing up our lives and leaving our friends and amazing neighbor in Kuwait also had some influence on the waterworks, too.

Step 8: Obsessively track your cat's travel progress. She had to go for two more visits to the vet to check for parasites and something else, then she was loaded under a plane for her first leg to Dubai.

A picture sent to us from Emma who was so wonderful to take her to both the vet visits. I'm so glad she understood how desperate I was to see that sweet face. 
In Dubai she had an 8 hour layover where I am told she was checked in to a pet hotel where she had a private room to roam around in, including a litter box, and was able to have some food before the LONG 15 hour flight to Melbourne. When she arrived she was taken directly to the quarantine facility, and I was told I would get an arrival email once she'd been checked by a vet at the facility. Well she landed at 5:30 in the morning and by 9am I still hadn't heard anything from the facility so I went into panic mode: my cat had been lost, she had been forgotten in Dubai, she was dead and they weren't telling me, she was loaded onto the wrong flight and was somewhere in Africa....all the worst case scenarios popped into my head so I tracked down the number for the loading bay at the airport and was that crazy cat lady calling to make sure my girl had arrived.

"You're the lady with the cat? Oh yeah, she's here. She is making sure everyone knows she is here," the lady said. Tee hee. Kitty doesn't like to be in a carrier...and I imagine at that point she had to pee, so she was probably just asking to be let out to find the nearest litter box!

Step 9: Wait some more. There are no visits allowed at the quarantine facility, so I just had to wait for 10 days until we could spring her from kitty jail.

Step 10: Prison break. Ok, the entire pick up process was SO not difficult. I was afraid we would have a snaffu because the day of her pick up was a government holiday, but the facility was still open and we had a one hour window to arrive and pick her up. 

Step 11: Apologize several times on the train ride home for your vocal cat disrupting everyone's commute. Every time the train doors opened, Kitty would start another chorus of her pitiful little mews and people would look around bewildered.

Most people didn't mind her being so vocal and everyone knows about the quarantine process for this country so when we said we'd just picked her up they were very sympathetic.

Step 12: Give your cat time to get over it and stop punishing your for leaving her alone for four months.

She hid under the headboard of our bed for a couple of days before resuming her usual activities of sleeping in my laundry, scratching the couch, and waking us up in the morning by purring on our chests until we get up and feed her.

Everything is back to normal now, and I think Kitty likes her new home. Everyone here is really surprised when we tell them that she came over with us from the Middle East, but once they get their first snuggle they understand why we just couldn't leave this sweet girl behind.

Vicariously yours,

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