The cats survived the trip from Europe to Japan rather nicely and now behave as if they’ve been living here all their lives. Though the pain and discomfort of the ordeal is not yet forgotten (and I doubt it will ever be) - as soon as their pet taxis are taken out of storage, the cats run and hide. They know the bags mean trouble.
And I can’t blame them. If you were forced to sit squashed in a tiny space for an indescribably long period of time (which I’m sure that’s exactly how 18 hours feel to a cat and most people I know), you’d have some serious trauma, too.
Of course, whenever possible, and even several times during the flight, we took them out of the carriers, massaged their legs and let them stretch out. And because we did that in the airplane bathroom (the one with the changing table), as you can easily imagine, some passengers were not amused. Oh well, their problem. As I told one particularly nasty prick (who was old and traveled alone, if he had an infant, I would have been more understanding) – I don’t see any cats here, only babies wearing fur, and they deserve their time on the nappy changing table too.
“What? You want them to piss in the isle?” I asked the prick. That shut him up.
And FYI, we always cover the table with disposable hospital liners (the ones used for babies and patients with incontinence), so the cats never take one step on any unprotected surface. They never leave the table. And after we finish, the liners are thrown out, and the table is cleaned with anti-bacterial wipes. I might be a crazy cat lady, but I have my moments of common sense. ;)
Also, to be able to transport a cat across international borders, the cat MUST be declared disease and parasite free - you should have seen the tests and treatments these poor kids had to go through before the trip! So, the only thing we were unable to help our fellow passengers with were any potential cat allergies.
Of course, the cats didn’t piss, and wouldn’t piss anywhere either way. That was the main reason why we chose the shortest connection and subjected ourselves to the Finnair treatment.
By the time we got to Narita, I could tell the cats were desperate for a litterbox. Even though we didn’t give them any food or water the day before the trip, after nearly 18 hours spent in their pet taxis, they really had to go. In more ways than one.
However, first we had to go through the pet quarantine procedure. Technically, for pets coming from rabies-free countries, there is no quarantine upon arrival in Japan. There is, however, quite a lot of paperwork to submit, file, check and sign. And the cats need to be inspected by an official vet at Narita before they can be released to you.
This is how it works:
On our "notification of import of animals" application we listed our cat’s color as “brown”, then our vet listed it as “orange” on Form A. But since our vet’s form was later stamped by the government veterinarian, the color of the cat needed to be changed to “orange” in the Quarantine Office computers and a new document had to be printed out.
The whole process took us about 30 minutes. It would have been shorter, if not for the brown-orange issue in the paperwork. By the way, if there are issues, make sure the Japanese official doesn’t make any spelling mistakes, our clerk misspelled “orange”, which resulted in additional corrections and wasted time.
While waiting to get the paperwork corrected, we saw one rabbit and two cats being processed. The rabbit went very quickly. The cats were in hard containers (came in as cargo, I assume) and were handled by a pet moving company. Their processing dragged on and on.
The above applies to pets from rabies-free countries, which are listed as: Sweden, Norway, Iceland, UK (Great Britain and Northern Ireland only), Ireland, Guam, New Zealand, Australia, Hawaii, Fiji and Taiwan.
But before you make any plans to bring your pets to Japan, make sure to get the scoop from the official Animal Quarantine Service website.