All posts, On leaving home

Pets, wings, prices – flying cats (and dogs) to Spain

We all arrived safely at Málaga airport. There was a bit miaowing from the back of the car as we drove to Órgiva – the cat equivalent of ‘are we there yet?’. They were pretty frazzled after the three hour flight, but in good health. Getting them to Spain always was the trickiest part of the plan.

They’d stayed in a cattery for two nights beforehand to enable us to prepare to leave the house. Tinkerbell returned a bit out of sorts – but it was her first cattery experience. Little did she know there was much worse ahead.

Over the proceeding weeks, the local vet had become a familiar sight in arranging the Pet Passport. The cats already have microchips.

He advised against using tranquillisers – the cats feel the same terror but just can’t move, and they affect them for a day or two afterwards. Most airlines don’t allow it these days.

British Airways and Monarch Airlines insist that you use a specialist pet transport company, charging around £550 for both cats. This includes sky-kennel hire (sometimes delivered a few days beforehand) –  but you have to give them back at the end (we don’t quite know how you would then transport the cats, can’t exactly get them to wear seat belts).

We chose Thomson and ‘hats off’ to them and the cargo staff – they could not have been more helpful.

We dropped the cats off at the Gatwick cargo area at 2am. The paperwork took ten minutes. They would travel side-by-side in a temperature controlled section (average temp of 14 degrees). We felt reassured our cats were in good hands.

After picking up the hire car at Málaga airport, collecting them from terminal de carga was easier than anticipated.

Keeping them inside the casita for 10 days before introducing them to their new territory will help them establish that this is their new home. A vet-recommended diffuser – which you plug into a wall socket like those revolting ‘air fresheners’ – seems to have helped too. Its pheromones remind them of home and a safe place.

For now, Tinkerbell and Possum seem happy housebound, looking out at the orange and fig trees and watching birds darting by – and wondering what on earth the loud braying sound and cockerel cries are.

Soon they’ll be able to explore outside to face things they’ve rarely come across in the UK – like untethered dogs and wild cats – and potential dangers they’ve never experienced – like snakes and huge hornets.

There’s an acre of land, so they’ll be a lot of exploring to do.

Costs…deep breath:

  • Flight (Thomson) £199 – for both cats
  • Pet Passports and rabies jab – £85 per cat (must be at least 21 days before travel)
  • Sky kennels £46 each
  • Fit-to-fly certificates* £32 per cat (must be certified within 96 hours for Thomson)
  • Worming tablet – £6.50 per cat
  • Wall diffuser – £33
  • Cargo charge at Málaga (‘get me out of prison please!’) – €28 for both cats

* a complete rip-off – it’s a single piece of paper – you listening vets?!

If, for example, you’re taking a large dog abroad, the cost will be higher as weight affects the cost.

Total cost for both cats: £600

That’s how much we love them.

[Information about taking your pet abroad from the UK.]

Related posts:

The cats – hippy trail overlanders or superstar jet-setters?

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