When I adopted my cat, my mom thought I was lying when I said I’d bring her to Canada with me. To her shock, I did. Being one of the few students that have managed to bring their pet along to university, I frequently get asked how I did it! So here’s my experience.
I adopted Yolanda at around 4 months old, and 10 months before coming to Canada. I, thankfully, knew from the start that my goal was to bring her with me; an early start for the process is the best way to go about it. I’d say plan at least 5-6 months in advance (this, of course, varies with every cat and owner).
The first thing I did was take her to the vet. My process took a bit longer because, as a kitten, she didn’t have any of her basic shots and for some vaccines, you have to take some time in between. I was very clear with the vet, and in most cases, veterinarians know what has to be done for your pet’s immigration; it might change depending on the country, but they should be able to access this information if you can’t find it yourself.
If you are looking for it yourself, which you always should just to make sure, you can find this information in the countries Embassy and/or Immigration wesbite. For Canada, I found the information here. Once this information is clear with the vet the process starts: little by little you’ll be able to get more tests and vaccines done, so that your pet is in the clear. All of the test information will be put in a document made specifically for your pet, and it clearly says what shots and studies it has gotten; it’s very important to be careful in this step because, often, shots need proof like the number of the batch it was taken from!
It’s also important to note that most countries ask for a formal note from your veterinarian stating that the pet is in good condition to travel and doesn’t have any contagious disease.
Once everything was running smoothly with the doctor, I had to research the airline I was travelling with. Same as before, you can go to the airlines’ website and look for their rules. In my case, they asked for a specific type of pet transporter (a soft one), and that my cat plus the transporter could not weigh more than 5 kg to be able to travel in the cabin with me.
Something that your vet will probably also mention to you will be ways to keep your pet from stressing too much on the trip. We have to remember that this is something completely new and unknown to them, and, in the case of cats, high levels of stress can trigger inactive illnesses. It’s imperative to do your best to keep them calm. I filled her transporter with some of my clothes as well as buying a specialized medicine called Feliway created to keep your cat calm in stressful moments (like travelling or moving).
This was pretty much everything I had to do to bring her. This is not to say that this is all there is to it. One of the most important steps is really sitting down and maturely deciding if bringing your pet with you is the best thing to do. As a student, oftentimes we don’t find the time, not even for ourselves, so analyze if you can really deal with the responsibilities that having a well-cared-for pet comes with.
The last thing you’d want is to go through all that trouble just to have to send your pet back, or for them to not be living the life they deserve. A lot of sacrifices come with having a pet, they are very expensive, you have to pay for food, pet furniture, cleaning products, pet deposit, pet insurance, vet visits, plus all of the unexpected; not only that but a pet does limit your freedom, which can be quite important when venturing yourself into an experience like studying abroad.
For me, having Yolanda here has been truly life-changing. I have committed myself to her like I never have with anybody else, and we have created a bond that will forever be irreplaceable. Her company has cured my loneliness and having her turn any house into a home. I am more than happy with the decision I made to bring her to Canada with me, but I also can see why this wouldn’t be optimal for everybody.