Flying felines

Simba and Zazu… the cat

Simba and Zazu are two cats that are very different in personality and they are of different breeds too.. Simba, a persian, is slow, cool macho like and an easy-going demeanor with a calm emotional condition, but much more sensitive than Zazu. While quite the opposite is Zazu, an american curl, naughty and hyperactive, curious to everything in the house even at my foot. Both of them are going to be deported to a new home, at the other side of the country and this journey needs them to be on a flight thus making the process quite interesting for sharing.

It started when Madam SimbaZazu,(owner, mother and master) to these two are going to be transferred due to work requirements, so she made some research online searching for information on the procedures that are needed to get 2 feline on board a plane. Of course there are other easier alternatives doing so, pay a third-party agent such as your nearby pet shop a substantial amount of money (RM1000/cat) for the service and get the job done, without all the hassle, but less the experience.

——————

Relocation program, How to transport a cat via flight.

The preliminary research lead to 3 simple steps that needed to be done, which is basically:

1) Vaccination, health approval.

2) Veterinary dept, permits for export and import.

3) Cargo, ticketing, transportation fees.

First, the vaccination.. to be transported, they need to be vaccinated as required by law. but most importantly, for their general health.. several infectious disease such as feline upper respiratory disease (FURD) and feline panleukopenia, can be prevented with advance vaccination, better get some good advice from nearby clinic about vaccination. So one afternoon the both of them was sent to the clinic.

Simba Zazu were at the clinic by 2:00 pm. Upon arrival, both of them was showing anxiety and a little nervous as expected… even cats have that unsettling feeling when going to see a doctor. They just wanted to hide and stay in the voyager, refusing to come out and when placed on the examination table, wriggled and nudging attempting to cuddle and hide under Mdm SimbaZazu, seeking for refuge. Mdm SimbaZazu, calmed the both of them as much as she could do so as to make the process more pleasant and easier. Shortly after the good doctor came into the examination room with her happy personality and positive aura, they seemed to have calmed down for a moment, she did some routine checks on Simba & Zazu, weighed them and a little bit of questionnaire, Then gave the vaccine to both of them but still with a little bit of wrestling going on especially with young Zazu.

Simba was a good healthy 4.4KG and Zazu 3.7KG. They also had their ears cleaned as well because of ear mites and watching the clinic assistant poking and probing into the ears, with a pair of surgical tweezers, was a little bit scary.. they both squirmed and wiggled in discomfort as I would guess it would be very ticklish on them. Half an hour later, all was done and the total cost for both was RM128. It is also a requirement to implant a RFID (radio frequency identification) microchip for easier tagging and identification. That thought didn’t came first but, both were installed with such microchip the day after. They were given some anesthetic for this process, as the needle used to insert the microchip was quite large.

After the pet clinic, the next step was to go to the veterinary department, and since the place was quite unfamiliar to us, a quick search using GPS and a phone call, we got the location lock on.

AT the vet dept,  which was about half an hour drive from the clinic, the office complex was quite large and located quite remotely from the town area. There were not many people around to ask for directions. Luckily the signage was clearly visible from the main road and locating the premises wasn’t that much of a hassle.

Since animal travel are not commonly practiced on a daily basis, the office was quite empty, there were just a few people dealing at the counter and waiting wasn’t that long, which was good for us as it made everything faster.

Unfortunately, the officer who was qualified and supposedly to handle these type of cases wasn’t available at that time , but with the help from one of the staff there, which was very friendly and informative, we got all the necessary info for the next necessary procedure;

First, we must get an import permit from the veterinary department at the arrival state.

Secondly, after obtaining the import permit, arrange an appointment with the veterinary officer at the departing state, which is their present homes, so the cats can have a health inspection and upon approval of the veterinary officer, the veterinary dept will issue an export permit and health certificate to the cats and they will  be ready for transportation.

After that, with all the necessary documents.. prepare a passport for them…

NO.. that was a joke…. they do not need passports for travelling, however the veterinary department said that there are indeed passports specially for pets, probably issued to those frequent fliers and it is valid for life. The passports is issued at the main office so there were no sample for viewing here.

Thirdly, we need to go to the forwarding agent /cargo dept at the airlines for the next step. From a telephone conversation.. the guy at the other end of the line said that we need to clear the customs dept and give the cats in their respective cage/ voyager along with the necessary documents as stated previously to the forwarding agent for a fee of RM180 plus the weight cost (at RM2.8 per kilogram), they should be on their way.

*P.S- Later we did found out that it is also possible to bring the cats directly to the luggage check in counter and take the cats with us on the same flight. The airlines’ luggage officer explained that the same documents are needed and all we have to do is check in with the carriers and later on at the arrival airport, the customs and veterinary dept will do the inspection, check the paperwork and give the green lights. The fees are at RM15/kg.

Mdm SimbaZazu opted for the latter choice as she was more comfortable with the procedures and felt closer to her cats.

The appointment  with the vet officer…

On a different day, after Mdm SimbaZazu got the import permits from the veterinary department(the destination state), she made and appointment at the local veterinary office(present state), called them and arranged for a meeting early in the Monday morning. Meeting day, both of them were taken to the veterinary department, with the import permits, health card, vaccine history and RFID bar code. The Veterinary officer check the RFID making sure it was in order and that the numbers match, did a simple health check and after about 20 minutes later and a fee of RM20, issued the export permits and health certificate.

The health certificate was valid for 7 days (domestic travel) while for oversea travel, valid for three days only. Although the process seems complicated and involves a lot of bureaucratic procedures (as a matter of fact, it does..) a careful planned scheduled preparation and some research will go along way and helps a lot. With everything seems to be in order and all necessary legal requirements in place, all that is needed to be done is wait for the departure date.

The other preparation

After all the documentation and legal requirements were obtained… Everything seems to be in order now and they should be able to travel. BUT… when someone like Mdm SimbaZazu thinks of the minute details about the flight and comes-up with all sorts of possibilities and imagination about what her beloved boys will feel, behaves or experience during that period of time, all the previously said preparations seams meager and simple. Can’t blame her for being apprehensive as we must understand that when someone have great love and affection either it is with a beloved pet or person or even an object, it tends to make them meticulous, making sure the well-being is taken care to the fullest extent.

Finding a suitable transport cage/voyager is a very important aspect. Make sure the size is suitable and comfortable for them to move around stretch their muscles and jump about. Should they be put together in one cage or separated.? will they get anxious during flight if travelling at a separate cage.? will they be afraid alone and should we install a small LCD screen for them to watch a movie during flight.? all these questions will haunt us if we were to be at the same situation as Mdm SimbaZazu. Finally after a few hours of searching and brain storming, she got a separate cage for them, quite a large one from observation but not that oversize, and if I were a cat, it looks quite comfy. The cage must also be secure, tough and most importantly won’t let them escape during handling process. So a cage that can be sealed and lock is a must when buying. Opt for the ones that can be permanently lock with cable ties on the sides so that the voyager assembly will be secured, not just the one with the simple clip on’s and also make for the kind with the front door that can be padlock/cable tied securely.

During Transportation period also, which may take several hours, water supply is necessary, unless the cats have camel storage capabilities which I haven’t heard of, so get the appropriate feeding kit, that can supply water to them during flight. Food might not be that important depending on the flight duration as they could be off without food for several hours. Also get an absorbing pad that can be placed on the base of the cage so that any urine can be absorbed and not cause a mess later on. It is sometimes advised to sedate them before travelling as it will help them to be more calm and makes the transition process easier. To make them more comfy, spreading a blanket is also another option as well so they can cuddle and be sleep better during flight. Simple identification for the cat’s, detailing the owner’s name, particular and description, is to be placed so as to be readable at the outside of the cage too. This will simplify the identification process when claiming at the destination airport, also as a precautionary measure, as we would do with our own luggage.

Departure day

The next few days… finally it was time to fly, so the voyager was all decorated and beautified. Water bottles fitted and also tagged nicely with every fitting and cable-tie in place and the front door is locked.

Zazu as usual a bit restless and didn’t stopped being noisy and whimpering but after a while as the sedative admitted few hours earlier on was taking effect, he became less active and more collected. Simba more relaxed and submissive than Zazu just sat and when teased, responded with a twitch and purr, begging to get out of the cage to enjoy the open space more, a good sign as he wasn’t afraid or tensed but just wanting to get out and play.  As anticipated, there were reactions from the public as well, some were surprised and amused by the two of them going on board flight and being checked-in at the airport, and others were just awe by their cuteness. It wasn’t too busy that time and it was kind of good as we didn’t want to attract too much attention anyway.

The whole process was a breeze and much faster than expected, since Mdm SimbaZazu’s flight was another 2 hours to go, so there were not that many passenger lining up. Again to the advantage of both simba and Zazu. luggage drop and check-in was fast and simple, all that had to be done is present them to be weighed and checked in as like any other luggage when travelling. All the counter did was check the papers and gave the total amount to be paid.  They were weighed with a total of 17 kilo.

Few hours later, they both arrived at the destination and was happy with no worries or stress signs. Everything was in order and nothing uneventful happened. To Mdm SimbaZazu, she can be relieved and now calm down knowing her cats is now safe and had successfully traveled with her to a new home.

can’t never get bored taking pictures of them both.. but you can get really tired..!

The entire process was interesting also informative and through this experience, I have witnessed how affectionate a pet owner can be with their beloved pets, proof that there is just no boundaries of how far one is willing to go for the safety, comfort and well-being of their beloved. It is also surprising at seeing how one can be so emotionally attached and caring, but with Simba and Zazu, having my own personal experience with them, even though just for briefs periods of times, it is understandable how one can get so attached to Simba and Zazu . For me, they will always be missed for their great company, always amusing and fun to play with, probably I will go and visit them someday at their new homes. But no matter where they are, they will always be the happy and adorable cat that I have gotten to know,  playful and being a good companion to everyone.

A special thanks to Mdm SimbaZazu for giving permission to publish this entry, and also not forgetting, the luckiest feline on earth; Simba & Zazu, for all the experience and memories.
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