Moving my cats from Vancouver to Sweden

I originally posted this to a pet move forum but thought it could go here too.

Tio and Desoto had no clue about what was in store for them..

Hello fellow worriers….I figured it was time to post something here about my experience moving my 2 cats from Canada to Sweden 10 days ago (September 2009). The process, of course, was longer than just organizing the flights…and I may have a few tips for you along the way.

I started planning my move in April 2009. I knew the boys were coming with me no matter what! The regulations are not too bad because there is no quarantine to enter Sweden. First I did my research online to find out about export and import regulations. This required going to the Canada Food Inspection Agency website and then to the Swedish Board of Agriculture. There is a link from the Canada Food Inspection Agency Website, but I also found more up-to-date information from the Swedish website directly (in English).

Swedish Board of Agriculture (main start site)

The next link should work, but may become out of date (March 2013…still correct!). It is the English part that talks about bringing cats and dogs here.

Follow the link to download these free forms and info

  • Import into Sweden of dogs and cats- Useful information for people travelling with their dog or cat; Item number : OVR76GB2.
  • Veterinary Certificate for domestic dogs, cats and ferrets entering the European Community for non-commercial movement (Regulation (EC) No 998/2003) Item number : E9.45GB
  • Deworming Certificate for dog/cat Item number : INT49B3

Canadian Food Inspection Agency (start site)

(Links to European information from the Canada government.)

This site is excellent for giving you a list of all the things you need to do. I won’t repeat it here, but I will tell you the problems I had.

One of my cats was micro-chipped, the other wasn’t at the time. You MUST have the microchip done before you get a rabies shot or do anything in preparation for this move. They check at the Swedish customs. If you have an old microchip, make sure you test it at the vet that it works with international scanners.

I ended up spending a small fortune because of some confusion about rabies shots. Both my cats had shots that would last them 3 years in Canada. According to my vet (never confirmed that this was true), I had to get another one every year for Europe. So basically I doubled up the rabies shots for both cats, but then when the blood titre samples were taken it was not after and within the 120-365 day period required by Sweden. Too confusing to explain but suffice it to say that this part of the process is the most expensive and the most important so make sure you do your homework and planning.

Triple check that your kennel is approved by the airline! I had one that I used to bring a cat from the UK (admittedly 18 years ago) and thought it was still good….NOT. Major panic at the airport when the airline said, nope, you need another one. (more in a second about THAT)

Airline Review

I used KLM to ship my cats and they are excellent for the most part. The only complaint I had was trying to get hold of them in North America! KLM uses Northwest (actually, around the time I moved, Delta bought NW out and this may have been the major reason for my problems…but who knows!) When I weighed my cats and the carriers plus measured everything, I phoned to provide this information to the airline as you have to book a space for the animals I called them twice, with both cats details AND had my travel agent do the same. When I arrived at the checkin…well,  there was only one cat listed!

I also went to the airport prior to leaving to find out what I needed to do, when I was supposed to be there etc. there is a very small window of time that they are available, and in fact they have to help the current passengers so it would have been a wasted journey. I wasn’t able to talk in person with anyone. Then I phoned Northwest. THEY SUCK. Again, maybe because of new company, but whatever! I was on hold for 45 minutes to ask about the cats, confirm etc. Never got through. So I emailed KLM directly in the Netherlands. I didn’t get the answer I needed however. It also made me suspicious at the time that perhaps only 1 cat was reserved but again, couldn’t get hold of anyone to help. Nor could my travel agent help! Very stressful.

Oh, and they charged more for excess baggage than was on the website ….$200 per cat, not $150 per cat.

Cat Carrier Stuff

Because I couldn’t get in touch with from KLM, I arrived at the airport with all the photocopies of the paperwork attached to the carriers, all the right water and food dishes, labels, Dry Fur insert (they work great! –  but buy in Canada). Then they said one of the carriers was no good…thankfully I was able to call a friend who went to Tisol and bought another carrier. When she arrived at the airport carrying an empty kennel…security stopped her and asked what she was doing! Anyway, all was fine in the end but I was kicking myself for a while because in the back of my mind I had thought I should buy a new one…but of course I was trying to save money.

The Flights

There was no direct flight from Vancouver to Stockholm so we had to change planes in Amsterdam. On the flight from Vancouver to Amsterdam, I asked the flight attendant how my cats were doing and to my surprise the CAPTAIN came to my seat to reassure me they were doing great! That was cool. Then at Amsterdam, I asked/checked at the gate to find out how they were doing (12 ish hours since we left home…) and everyone was helpful and great. I was also able to see the carriers out on the runway and watch the cats get loaded on the plane.

Settling Into Farm Life

I am pleased to say that both my cats, even though it was obviously stressful for them, settled into our new home really quickly.

Future blogs will tell you more about me and the boys!

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5 thoughts on “Moving my cats from Vancouver to Sweden

  1. Thanks for this useful information and blog. 🙂 I am about to move my two acts from U.K(Northern Ireland) to Sweden. cant wait to get the process completed and my babies settled.

    Thank you.

    • Pleasure to help with your fur babies! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions…I plan on starting to write here again soon…

  2. Thank you so much for all the info, in the next year i will move back home to Sweden after being in the US for many years i have two babies that turns 2 in a cpl of days, I am so worried that they will freak out with this whole process.
    But i will start planning right away!

    Thank you

    • Hi Linda! Feel free to contact me anytime if you want to chat..about cats or moving back to Sweden, and especially when you do get back to Sweden, consider me a resource. My fur babies are happy happy happy! They forget about the travel very quickly.

  3. Ohmygosh, thank you for this. I’m moving with my cats from Ontario to Sweden in only a few months and this information is so helpful.

    I think my biggest fear is my one cat who is incredibly vocal. I wonder if that’s a huge problem…

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