Moving With A Cat From The EU To The US

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I’ve written before about moving with a pet from one European country to another (moving with a pet within the EU), but this time around our move had an extra layer of complication being that we moved from the EU to the US. However, it is possible—and quite easy actually—to move with a cat from the EU to the US.

So, let’s talk about my experience moving with Oscar from Italy to California via a flight through Lisbon, Portugal.

Moving from the EU to the US with a Cat

Logistics

Of course, you can’t travel with your pet without following the legal rules outlined by the EU country you are leaving, the US state you are arriving in, and the airline policies. My top suggestion is to check all three sets of rules early and if possible, ask for clarification if needed. Italy, unsurprisingly, has created a lot of hoops to jump through to let your pet leave the country: pet passport, several health checks, verified chip, updated vaccines, etc., all within a certain amount of time from the flight. Because the rules for each country varies, I’m not going to detail all of the steps here, but do be aware that you may need to follow country-specific rules that are above and beyond those required by your destination country.

Flights

I’ve you’ve been following along with our most recent relocation, you might know that we moved from Florence, Italy to Sacramento, California in late June. After a lot of searching, we found a great flight via TAP Air Portugal from Florence to San Francisco with an overnight layover in Lisbon. Air Portugal was really wonderful to fly with with an in-cabin pet; it was reasonably easy and inexpensive to book a spot for Oscar after I booked our flight. More importantly, there was a flight attendant on our Lisbon to SFO flight who saw that we were traveling with a cat and she went out of her way to come to our section with bottles of water and to sneak a few pets.

Another joy of traveling with Air Portugal was the overnight layover in Lisbon. This gave Oscar a chance to get out of his carrier and walk around, use the litter box, drink, and eat (a tiny bit). If you happen to be in a situation where you can book an overnight layover, I definitely suggest it to give yourself and your pet a break between flights.

Supplies

This is the packing list we used for traveling with Oscar overseas:

  • travel cat litter box

  • wet wipes to clean up messes

  • doggie pee pads to line the bottom of the carrier

  • two plastic bowls (for water and food)

  • a zip lock baggie of cat litter

  • a zip lock baggie of dry cat food

  • travel carrier*

The Best Travel Cat Litter Box

Before our flight, we searched our local pet store and Amazon Italia for a packable, easy to clean litter box that would work for our large cat. Previously when traveling, we used a shoe box lid filled with a tiny bit of cat litter, but while that worked well for only one flight, it didn’t seem practical for a several day trip. We ended up purchasing this Petsfit litter box*, which folds into the size of a large wallet and slips into the outer pocket of the travel carrier.

Tips for Flying Overseas with a Cat

  • After finding your desired flight, ALWAYS call the airline to ensure that there is still space available for in-cabin pets.

  • Call the airline again directly after booking to reserve a space for your pet.

  • Ensure that all of the necessary paperwork has been taken care of within the timeline required by both the leaving and destination countries.

  • Always carry your pet supplies with you in your carry-on.

  • Tell the flight attendants that you are traveling with a pet. They may be considerate enough to bring extra bottles of water, etc.

  • When possible, spend a night in a hotel to give your pet a break.

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Do you have any tips or tricks for flying with a pet?