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Old 18.01.2012, 13:32
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Bringing cats to Switzerland

Hi all,

I am relocating to Basel temporarily (5 months) and will be bringing my two cats with me. I have all the paperwork required on the U.S. side, but wanted to check what is needed once I arrive here, especially, what I will need to ensure that we can all travel back home to U.S. when I am done with my project.

Some questions that I have are:
  • Will they need a local vet?
  • Will they need another rabies?
  • Will they need certification to go back to the U.S.?

Any advice you may have will be greatly appreciated.

Karen
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Old 18.01.2012, 13:44
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Re: Bringing cats to Switzerland

Is it really worth the hassle and distress of bringing the animals halfway across the world for just 5 months?
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Old 18.01.2012, 14:17
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Re: Bringing cats to Switzerland

Main difficulty will be to find an appartment/house that will allow you to keep cats. Are they indoor or outdoor cats?
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Old 18.01.2012, 14:50
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PaddyG is right - its a lot of hassle for 5 months.

You will need to get them vet checked including rabies maximum 2 weeks before coming here. Depending on your airline you most likely (with two cats) will have to send them cargo (because you can't put 2 cats in a carrier under the seat) which means its costly to ship, plus you'll have to pay ground fees, vet fees, up the butt fees, bead you over fees and any other fees that apply. For our one cat we paid 300 CHF in total.

When you go back you'll again have to have the health certificate within 2 weeks of travel including rabies and anything else the US requests (google to be sure), and you'll have to pay transport and more up the butt fees on that end as well.

But in short the answer is "yes" to all 3 questions.
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Old 18.01.2012, 15:03
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Re: Bringing cats to Switzerland

I did bring my cat along from the US, some 8 years ago, when we decided to relocate to the Zürich area... people here LOVE cats, you won't have a problem finding an apartment/house that allows them.
I believe we had to do a rabies shot, and get her a chip an veterinarian certificate of good health. Things might have changed though. Make sure and give the cat a sedating tablet before take off.
Might have an inspection of the cat upon arrival as well. If you are traveling in warm weather, the airlines also have a ban on animal traveling (the animal section of the plane isn't air conditioned/heated). You probably will find up to date info on the http://www.myswitzerland.com/en/home.html website...
Good luck!
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Old 18.01.2012, 15:15
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Re: Bringing cats to Switzerland

Thank you for the responses. Yes, it is a bit of a hassle, but I don't have someone who can take them in the states, and, although the current project is for 5 months, I never know if I will be extended or not. So it was easier to go ahead and bring them. And I have found an apartment that allows cats.

The cats have all the necessary shots and documentation for leaving the US and coming to Switzerland. The last documentation (a new one requiring an USDA certification) I will get in two weeks just before we travel.

My biggest concerns are going back. =D Don't want them end up stuck here. So it sounds like I need to find a vet locally and make sure they are kept up to date on all of their vaccinations.

Thanks again!
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Old 18.01.2012, 15:16
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Make sure and give the cat a sedating tablet
Please double check with the airline policy as many no longer allow sedated animals. If your cat really needs it I would get a letter from your vet to back you up.
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Old 18.01.2012, 15:17
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It's the same procedure coming in as going back, so you will need a local vet.
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Old 18.01.2012, 15:30
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Re: Bringing cats to Switzerland

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Hi all,

I am relocating to Basel temporarily (5 months) and will be bringing my two cats with me. I have all the paperwork required on the U.S. side, but wanted to check what is needed once I arrive here, especially, what I will need to ensure that we can all travel back home to U.S. when I am done with my project.
Having brought two cats over this past August ourselves, I can tell you a little about our experience and answer your questions relative to this experience.

We had to have our cats microchipped with a specific type of microchip compatible with the readers used in Europe. (Not all vets carry this microchip) After that microchipping, the cats had to receive a rabies vaccination (even if they were previously vaccinated, it had to be done after the microchipping. The veterinarian had to perform a health examination and certify the cats' health, vaccination, and microchipping on both and EU/Swiss form, as well as a USDA form (required by the US Domestic airlines). The form then had to be notarized by a USDA official. (3-hour round-trip drive for us) The examination and notarization could not be done more than 10 (or 14?) days prior to the trip, for it to be valid.

Additionally, we had to contact our airline (Delta) to determine the fees and requirements for flying with the animals (we wanted to bring them on the plane with us) as each airline has similar (but different enough to require researching individually) requirements. We then had to purchase two soft-sided animal carriers small enough to fit under the seats, absorbent piddle pads (like the kind used for housebreaking- it is a long trip) for any 'accidents', some sort of sedative/relaxant to use on the flight (again, a long flight, and you don't want everyone hating you because your cat is mewling the whole flight), and pay an additional $100 per animal fee to the airline. We also packed two small bowls, one for food and the other for water, as well as some food for their trip. Also note that each animal carrier counts as a carry-on item.

The day of the flight, to clear security, we had to remove the cats from their carriers, take off their collars, and carry them individually through the metal detectors. Meanwhile their carriers were screened like any other baggage. The flight itself was extremely stressful, as we worried about everything from the cats disrupting the flight to possible adverse effects from the sedative we were using.

Upon arrival in Zurich, we had to declare the cats at customs, where the official very quickly scanned our paperwork, did not look at the cats, stamped the paperwork, and sent us on our way. This was both relieving (for its simplicity and lack of fees- we had been told to expect to pay a duty) and frustrating (we had gone to a lot of effort to have the paperwork in order, and nobody even examined the paperwork) for us.

When we were searching for apartments, we did have to disclose our pets, and we found it was about 50/50 on which apartments allowed pets. Several of the 'no-pet' apartments told us that this was put in place mainly for large dogs, and indoor-only cats were okay. Our landlord did ask us to sign some additional paperwork regarding our pets (regarding liability for injury/damages) and I believe we had to provide additional deposit as well. Our neighbors have been accepting of our cats also, but I have read/heard stories where this is not always the case.

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Some questions that I have are:

Will they need a local vet?
Its not required that they see a vet in Switzerland. Since you are only planning on staying for 5 months, I would just note where a good vet is, in case of emergency, and plan on getting them checked right before returning.

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Will they need another rabies?
See our experience above. Only if they have not been vaccinated since their microchipping and/or only if their current vaccine is more than one year old.

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Will they need certification to go back to the U.S.?
We have not crossed that bridge yet, but I would imagine they will require recertification before returning to the US. And the return trip will be equally stressful and complicated as the inbound trip.


IMO, for 5 months this is a LOT of stress & trouble for both you and your pets. As much as I understand the desire to keep your pets with you, it might be much less stressful for yourself and your cats (as well as less expensive) if you let them 'visit' with a trusted family member while you are gone.

If you do decide to bring them, and your company is paying to ship your belongings to Switzerland, we recommend you purchase anything pet-related for these 5 months in the US (this includes food, litter, scratching posts, treats, bedding, and toys) as it will be vastly cheaper to do it this way and include them in your shipment if you have room.


Sorry this is soo long, but I hope it helps!
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