CW from Mettacats forwarded your message on to me regarding your cat Sophie and I was hoping my story might help you decide the best option for her.
I was also an expat working in Singapore for a year prior to returning home to Toronto, Canada in May 2003. During that time, I met Sammi, a homeless cat living on the street. Sammi soon became my best friend and I rescued him and took him to my apartment. At first I thought I would try to find a home for him in Singapore but soon realized that cats were not a common household pet in Spore. After some research, I discovered that bringing Sammi back to Canada was an option worth considering and was much easier than expected. Unfortunately, Sammi was diagnosed in Singapore with a heart condition and a short life expectancy. My Singapore vet and I decided I should bring him home to Canada regardless, as he would have more of a chance to live a good life there. There was some risk in flying (approximately 30 hours in total) with his heart condition however the risk of leaving him to fend for himself would far exceed the risk of flying and so we took the chance. It was a great decision. Sammi lived a very healthy life in Canada for 10 months and I would never give up that time we had together. My family and I knew he would not live a long life because of his condition; however we believe that although the time was short, he lived a very good life with us and received lots of love.
At the time of Sammi’s passing (March 2004) I had already booked a flight back to Singapore leaving in May 2004 to visit my friends for a couple of weeks. When Sammi passed away, I questioned even returning to Singapore as most of my memories included him. Then I thought about rescuing another Singapore cat (I find them to be smarter than the North American cats :o). I was surfing on the internet and found Mettacattery in Singapore. They had a black cat named Jam listed for adoption. The description of Jam was similar to Sammi included a “single white whisker” which was a trait that Sammi had. After some communication back and forth with CW I decided to bring Jam back to Canada from my vacation. I am very happy to report that Jam is living in Canada with us and is very healthy and happy here.
In both cases, I was concerned about the flying time however the cats did wonderfully. Cats travel
much better than dogs. No medication required. Canada does not require quarantine for animals coming from Singapore. I believe the same is true for USA as I connected through the US without any problems. You will most likely have to pay a fee to your customs and immigration once you arrive. (My fee was approximately 60.00). Best to check with US customs and immigration on actual requirements and fees. To leave Singapore, you require a permit issued by the AVA (can be done in a day) for a small fee. Ensure that your paperwork states the pet will be traveling “in cabin” not “cargo”. The lady at the AVA will help you to complete the form. The reason I point this out is because I chose “cargo” thinking they meant – aircraft cargo – however “cargo” for their purpose meant they are not traveling with the owner. If this paperwork is not correct, Singapore will not let you board the flight with your cat. You will also require up to date shots just prior to traveling which the vet should be aware of.
If you plan to take Sophie home, I would suggest purchasing a good size kennel so Sophie can move around. (Buy “puppy training pads” for the bottom of the cage and also a water bottle dispenser). The airlines charge a fee (extra baggage type charge which will be 200-300 SGD). Sophie would fly in a heated/pressurized cargo cabin – this must be requested in advance with the airline. I do not suggest flying with the cat in the cabin as the cabin kennels are far too small (they fit under the seat) and it would be torturous to keep a cat in this kennel for such a long flight. I recommend Northwest airlines as they have an excellent program for pets traveling. The program is called Priority Pet and they actually keep you up to date throughout all your flights/including transfers on how the cat is doing and they provide you with assurance that the cat has boarded the plane prior to take off from each airport.
Penny, I strongly suggest you take Sophie back to the USA with you. She will be fine on the flight. Even if you are unable to keep her once you are back home, you will probably find a good home for her in the USA. She has been in your care for a long time and most likely will not find such a good home in Singapore. The people at Mettacattery are wonderful however they have hundreds of cats looking for homes. I don’t think Sophie would adjust to a kennel environment after being in such good care for so long. Jam is now very healthy however he still maintains Rhino (a virus that is often transmitted through cattery/kennel type environments.)
I am happy to help in any way possible. I even have a good Canadian friend who works for a travel company in Singapore who could probably help with the flight arrangements. I have attached a photo of Sammi .
Also, you can read about Jam’s travel experience on mettacats website at http://members.fortunecity.com/mettacats3/peanut_butter_jam/jam.htm