Whether you’re planning on moving abroad or domestically in the US, you’re probably wondering how much you should budget for your cat’s part of the move. It’s important to keep in mind that there are many pieces to moving a cat that determine the costs.
Even if you choose not to hire a professional service to organize a safe move plan for your cat, the individual expenses can add up to a big price tag. To help give you a better idea of what to expect with the costs of your cat’s move, we’ve put together some of the items to keep in mind when budgeting for your travels.
Attention: The below estimates only provide a general idea of how much it costs to ship a cat without hiring a service provider to help. Involving a service provider or adding various conditions to your move will make the prices vary. Contact a PetRelocation Consultant here to find out what your cat’s move will cost with our services.
Expenses for Domestic and International Cat Shipping
Is your pet traveling in-cabin or in the cargo hold? Either way, you’ll need to purchase a kennel that meets the airlines’ requirements. For cargo travel, we have some tips and tricks for finding the right kennel for your cat on this page.
Research the costs of travel crates ahead of time and don’t forget to purchase two water bowls to attach to the door!
Example Estimate: A medium PetMate Sky Kennel, what most airlines consider to be the best size for cats traveling in cargo, can cost anywhere between $50 USD and $200 USD.
From general vaccinations to Titer blood tests to health checks, your cat’s move will require at least one vet visit. You might even have to make sure your cat sees a government-approved or accredited veterinarian!
Be sure to read the pet import requirements for your specific destination and discuss the process, including the related costs, with your vet.
Example Estimate: A simple domestic health certificate alone can vary greatly between vets -- we’ve seen prices range from $75 USD up to $250 USD before. Talk with your vet and try to schedule multiple procedures in the same visit, if possible, to bring the costs down.
Airline Ticket and Fees
The majority of your cat’s move budget will fall under airfare costs. Because pets require extra care and attention throughout their journey, the rates airlines charge for live animals are often more expensive than regular passenger ticket prices. For cargo specifically, most airlines base the ticket pricing for pets off of the volume of the travel crate and/or the weight of the pet with the travel crate.
Additionally, you will need to consider how the costs will be affected if your cat’s routing requires a layover. Layovers for pets that last more than a few hours can add additional fees, which ensure they are well looked after at a pet hotel until they are put on the next flight. While you may be able to jump on a discount flight to your destination without worrying about routing or stops, pets have to be carefully routed to ensure they’re only flying in and out of airports that have pet-friendly airlines.
Lastly, it is important to note that some airlines will not allow you to book directly with them to fly your cat internationally to some countries -- instead, you have to go through a pet-shipping company with an airline account. This is because they want to have the assurance that the import procedures and paperwork were completed correctly to avoid any penalties or fees.
Example Estimate: Flying one small cat domestically via cargo with a pet-friendly airline, like United or Delta, will likely cost between $275 USD to $300 USD. International flights can be two to three times this amount, depending on the locations involved.
Other Transport Services
Keeping in mind that your cat’s travels may not align with your own travel plans, it may be a good idea to look into hiring services to transport your cat to and from the airport. Hiring a professional pet-taxi or driver with a climate-controlled vehicle may not be as inexpensive as you think when you take into account the time spent on the drive, the distances traveled, fuel costs, and traffic.
Also, if you plan on having someone check-in your cat at the airport for you, it may take a few hours to ensure that all of the paperwork is in order and that your cat is weighed and prepped for departure.
Example Estimate: Animal transportation costs vary based on the city, distance from the airport, number of pets, and time of day the travel takes place. The transport of one cat in a major US city (like New York) during regular business hours to an airport within 10 miles of your home may cost you up to $275 USD.
Additional International Expenses
Government Approvals or Endorsements
Depending on where you are moving, you may need to take your cat’s veterinary paperwork to get a government approval or endorsement before travel. Some countries even require multiple endorsements, such as a Consular and a USDA endorsement.
Again, it is important to be aware of the rules for importing a cat to your destination.
Example Estimate: USDA endorsement fees can be found on their website here -- for a cat with no blood tests it will cost $38 USD. Keep in mind that this does not include the time spent to book and attend an in-person appointment or the cost of mailing in paperwork to be endorsed.
Some countries will only allow pets to enter with an import permit at hand. As you can imagine, getting a formal approval from a government to bring your pet overseas can often come at quite the price.
If you discover your destination requires an import permit, try looking for these fees on that country’s government website.
Example Estimate: The fees for obtaining an import permit for a pet going to Australia can be found on the DAFF website here. For just one cat, the import permit fees will cost $480 AUD.
Once your cat arrives, there are clearance steps that need to be taken. These can include brokers, taxes, tariffs, and other country-specific fees that need to be paid in order for your cat to be released to you.
Most airlines will be happy to share any of these customs fees with you when you book your cat’s flight. If that’s not the case, check your destination country’s government website to see if there are any customs fees indicated there.
Example Estimate: New Zealand’s governing body over pet imports, MPI, lists their border clearance charges on their website here. Depending on the country your cat is traveling from, this fee can range anywhere between $28.19 NZD (fixed) to $186.30 NZD (hourly).
If you’re moving to a country that requires a quarantine period, like New Zealand or Malaysia, you will need to take into account the fees required to keep your pet at the quarantine facility. Remember that these facilities offer more than just accommodations for your pet -- they provide food, outdoor time or walks, and medical care if needed.
Example Estimate: The quarantine fees for pets moving to Singapore can be found on the AVA website here. In short, it will cost at least $242 SGD for a cat to stay in quarantine for 10 days (the typical minimum period for pets).
DIY vs. Hiring Professionals
While some people choose to handle their pet moves on their own, many pet owners eventually decide that they’d rather have a service organize it all. Managing the costs and logistics of a pet move can be complicated and stressful, which is why hiring an all-in-one service brings relief to most. It’s more expensive to hire a service since you’d also be paying for the management of your cat’s move, but it’s just one thing less to worry about!
Don’t just take our word for it -- here is some insight from other pet owners who are happy they sought PetRelocation’s assistance with their cat’s travels:
“The first time I was trying to figure out how to move Charlie and Chloe by myself and then I found you and everything fell into place so seamlessly.” Read More
“We made the decision to use a pet relocation agency very late in our travel planning process due to misinformation from the airline. With literally 10 days to accomplish the task of moving our cat, Cosmo, Jon and Julia were amazing!” Read More
“Moving countries is no easy feat, let alone if you have other precious goods to relocate. But after working with PetRelocation, and specifically Maegan and Linda, I couldn’t have been more impressed nor comforted with the entire process.“ Read More
“We contacted PetRelo in February and they guided us through the whole process. Our biggest concern is the safety for our pets, and later we realized the pets actually had a much much smoother flight than we did!” Read More