We have a little cat (7 pounds) who needs to get from China to America this summer.
We've had an emergency and need to move home on June 29th. We got Scout's rabies shot on June 11th. We're really worried about her being under the 30 day requirement for a rabies shot—if we're able to self-quarantine her, that's no problem, but I'm nervous about it.
We were also blown away by the tiny size of container Delta told us was acceptable for pet-in-cabin travel. Even though she's little, 17x12x8 still seems a bit inhumane…? So my questions are, will it be feasible for us to import our cat from China, change planes in Detroit during a five hour layover, and get her safely to our new home on June 29th?
If not, of course we'll make other arrangements—I just want to understand our options, and I DEFINITELY don't want to show up at the airport and find out there's a problem then.
Thanks for your question! China requires rabies vaccinations to have been done at least 30 days prior to pet travel export, so you will need to wait until at least July 12th before you can take her out of the country. For more information, here are the pet import requirements for the United States.
Additionally, you might be able travel with your cat in-cabin, but like you mentioned, that would mean she will need to fit in a very, very small crate. Eight inches for the maximum height rarely is tall enough for most cats—only very small dogs like toy Yorkies and Chihuahuas usually fit.
What you are probably better off doing is purchasing a hard-shelled travel crate (probably a #200 series crate - 27"x20"x19”) and flying your pet as manifest cargo underneath the plane. You will want to check with the airline you are flying on to make sure there will be space and that they operate with pet safe policies to allow this.
Alternatively, you could hire a pet relocation company (like ours!) to arrange Scout's relocation from China to America. In that instance, we could pick her up on the 29th (when you depart), board her at our kitty condos in China until the 12th of July (when her rabies shot is 31 days old), arrange the export paperwork (health certificate) fly her to the United States in climate-controlled condition the entire time, clear her through customs upon arrival and deliver her to your residence.
This would eliminate any last minute problems at the airport for you that you mention being concerned about.
Hope this helps! Just let us know if we can be of assistance and happy travels!
Moving your cat internationally? We'd be happy to help! Contact us to set up a pet travel consultation.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in June 2009 and has been updated with new information.