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Important Information About Traveling With Your Cat
Good planning is needed in order to travel with your pet. All accredited vets must follow the same laws set forth by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), and cannot flex the rules based on travel plans. The vet's role is to inspect the pet and decide whether to endorse the health certificate, the APHIS form VS7001, which basically states that the animal appears to be free of infectious diseases and is not from an area under quarantine for rabies.
A very helpful website is: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel
It has an interactive compilation of requirements for travel into (import), out of (export), and within the United States. Form VS7001 is a commonly used form that is good for 30 days from issuance. Your pet may need another vet visit/certificate from a vet in your destination state or country before re-entry into your returning state or the United States.
There is a fee for the exam and issuance of the certificate. Dr. Lewis must examine your pet and can only date the certificate for the date of the examination, even if your pet was recently seen for another reason.
Please bring your pet's records, a stool sample, and heartworm/flea/tick preventive (if you have it) with you to the visit. Bring your destination address and contact information. Please allow at least 30 minutes for your vet visit. Pets with proof of current vaccinations and regular parasite prevention may just need an exam, but that will be determined during the consultation. Travel within the continental U.S. has the fewest requirements, but differ by state. Vaccines will not be administered on the day of travel, as to not risk an adverse reaction occurring during travel, so please plan accordingly.
The main reason laws are in place for pet travel is to prevent infectious diseases from spreading to different parts of the world. The added bonus is that an exam may help to determine if your pet should travel safely. This is not a guarantee that your pet will tolerate or survive travel. Dr. Lewis has the right to decline signing the health certificate if the pet is sick. Tests, such as parasite screening of stool and blood and application of a preventative for internal and external parasites may be required. Vaccinations, especially Rabies, may be needed. A microchip may be needed for International travel.
It is the pet owner's responsibility to find out what the destination state or country's requirements are and plan accordingly. The receiving destination has the right to not accept your pet into the state or country and can hold them in quarantine if the requirements are not met or if your pet appears to be sick. Riverside Cat Hospital has access to many health certificates through the USDA website, but please bring any paperwork with you that might be helpful.
International health certificates often require a second-step endorsement at the Veterinary Services Endorsement Office in East Lansing. Please call the number below to set up an appointment at their office and take the signed certificate with you. You should not take your pet. You must have the double-signed original document with you during travel. Only original documents are allowed; no faxed or e-mailed copies are accepted. Please note: there may be additional fees involved with international health certificates at the Veterinary Services Endorsement Office.
Please note: Travel of a pet to a rabies-free state like Hawaii or a rabies-free country like Japan is at least a six-month process.
Many airlines require a health certificate issued by the veterinarian within 5-10 days of travel. Please note that airline requirements are separate from country requirements so you must find out what your individual airline requires. When making your inquiry with your airline, specify if your pet will be in the cabin or in cargo under the plane. Ask about pet size limitations and approved carriers (type, dimensions, weight, etc.)
Pet Safety: For certain breeds, such as those with brachycephalic airway syndrome (Bulldogs, Persians, Pugs, Exotic Shorthairs, etc.), travel in cargo is not recommended due to potential difficulty with acclimatization and breathing. Sick, neonatal, and geriatric pets of any breed should not travel. Travel may be stressful for a pet, especially in temperature extremes. Sedatives are not recommended because if there is an adverse reaction to the drug, the pet cannot access veterinary care while in the air. However, anti-nausea drugs for motion sickness are available. Discuss options with your vet before giving your pet any drugs before traveling.