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panicking and trying to dislodge the harness in a way that would
hurt themselves. (Te harnesses have “breakaway” clasps, but
you can never be too careful!) Mostly, the cats just fop dramati-
cally on the foor and glare at me. Occasionally, one will creep
around the room with her belly to the foor, ears fattened. Great,
harnesses are a go!
At the Airport
As for the practicalities of transporting the girls, I cut of their
food eight hours before we leave for the airport, and their water
four hours before. I leave the litter box out until they are in their
carriers. During the trip, I ofer them water, but they never ever
drink it.
I have made it a policy to
purchase a plane ticket for a
family member to accompany
me so that we can bring the
cats into the cabin. (Only one
pet per passenger allowed!)
I sent them as accompanied
baggage to my frst post, and
fretted every moment I was
separated from them. I pes-
tered each airline employee
that crossed my line of sight
to confrm that the cats had
made the transfer to our con-
necting fight. I also worried
about how they were being
handled, if they were scared,
or if they thought I had aban-
doned them.
Tat was a horrible source
of stress that I really didn’t
need on top of the usual
stresses of moving to a new
post and starting a new job!
So it is absolutely worth it to buy that second ticket, which is
often cheaper than shipping the cats, anyway.
Chloe and Cordelia do take up one carry-on slot per passen-
ger, but the tradeof is a second checked bag for my companion
that I can fll with my stuf. So this is what the complete luggage
tally looks like: two cats in soft carriers, one laptop bag, one
carry-on roller suitcase, one checked bag for my family member,
and three checked bags for me. It works beautifully.
Tis system also ofers a bonus: having someone along to
help supervise packout, navigate the airports, and explore the
new post with me for the frst few days. I’m always on my own
when it comes to having household efects delivered, but I fnd
that if I draw out a foor plan and mark down every piece of fur-
niture ahead of time, it’s a pretty painless process.
Settling in at Home…
Even after we get to our new house, I keep Chloe and Corde-
lia in their carriers until I can set out a litter box, food and water.
You can buy a shallow plastic tray with a small amount of litter
sealed under paper along the bottom, and bring it along in your
suitcase, in case your sponsor can’t arrange for those things
ahead of time. One brand is
called Cat’s Pride KatKit, and
is available from Giant or
Once everything is ready,
I open the carriers. Instead of
making a beeline for the lit-
ter, they are usually far more
interested in exploring the
new place. It’s usually an hour
or more until their curiosity is
(temporarily) satisfed, and at
that point, they almost always
go for the water.
I am totally comfortable
withholding sustenance
for the frst 24 hours or so,
because as predators, cats can
go for days at a time between
meals. Tis method also has
the advantage of preventing
any messes during travel.
When the movers come, I
always take the cats some-
where else; there are just too
many things that can go wrong with kitties underfoot! I ask the
crew to unpack the clothes, dishes and books (all 900 of them),
but leave the rest of the shipment in boxes for me to organize
later. In return, I provide doughnuts and bottles of water, but not
I like having the noon hour to myself to look over every room
and just chill out before jumping back into the unpacking.
Otherwise, it’s very challenging to keep on top of three or four
people at once.
Be sure to follow each
country’s import rules exactly.
You never know whether
customs will just wave you
through or look at everything.