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The Taj Mahkitteh

Today’s Hair Across Weasel’s Ass: plane-legal pet carriers. A regular, take-her-to-the-vet-sized pet carrier will not do (never mind that mine is 30 years old, solid as a brick shit-house and served perfectly well to fly a bigger cat than Charlotte from Tennessee to Rhode Island). If the airline doesn’t turn the cat away, there are grievous fines on the UK end for shipping an animal in a container they consider too small.

And so, of course, they provide really precise instructions for choosing the appropriate carrier.

Ha ha! Just woofin’ you. Every document describes the requirements s-lightly differently. It should be the height of the cat standing, the height of the cat sitting or two inches above the ears of the cat standing. There has to be ventilation in all four sides, or it doesn’t matter as long as it’s 13% open to air. The animal has to be able to stand up turn around and lie down again (which makes jump down turn around pick a bale of cotton spin up on my mental Wurlitzer). The problem is the confluence of airline regs, US government regs and UK government regs.

I particularly liked this instruction from DEFRA:

Containers for cats should have litter trays which are either heavy enough not to move around or fixed to stop them moving.

Litter trays! Holy pooperscooper! Charlotte needs at least a five foot radius to operate a box properly. She’s a sweet girl, but stupid. She stands with all four feet inside, hangs her ass over the side and pees on the floor.

Whatevs. I bought her the biggest carrier that’ll fit in the Weaselmobile. And it occurs to me I never told you what needs to be done to bring a dog, cat or ferret into the UK. It’s a hell of a deal, but I won’t complain — they don’t have to go through six months of kennel quarantine on the British side now. They essentially allowing the pet to serve out quarantine at home. Zo! In this precise order:

■ Spay and microchip. (Very important — that microchip is checked before every stage of the process. Some people drop a couple hundred bucks for their own chip reader, just to be sure).
■ Vaccinate for rabies.
■ Some time later — twenty days is recommended — draw a blood sample and have your vet send it to Kansas State University.
■ They send back a document certifying presence of rabies antibodies (my documentation didn’t have the official seal, so I had to chase them to send another one).
■ Six months after this date, the travel documents can be applied for. If the rabies booster comes due before you’re ready (ours did), booster and documentation.
■ When the time comes, gather all the documentation and FedEx it to the nearest USDA veterinary office. They FedEx the docs and the stamped travel permit back. This document is good for four months.
■ Not less than 24 nor more than 48 hours before Puss gets on the plane, one last vet’s appointment. She gets de-ticked, wormed (must contain Praziquatel!) and the vet makes a final entry on the USDA and airline forms.
■ Show up at the approved airline’s freight service six hours before the flight. There are, incidentally, one or two government-approved cat-flying airlines for each city that flies to London.
■ After going through People Customs at Heathrow, hop a taxi and drive four miles (oh, the cabby’s going to love me!) to the Animal Reception Center. They say it takes 3-4 hours to process a cat through. Why? I don’t know!

And…umm…ta-dum, I guess. All for the filthy little crooked-tailed, squint-eyed, bug-eating feral Goblin Princess I trapped in my garage five years ago.

Oh, well. One good thing I’ve gotten out of this: pee pads! They’re giant Kotexes for bed-wetters. You put one in the bottom of the travel kennel to mop up accidents. I got a ten-pack of 30×36″ pee pads for six bucks at Wal*Mart.

So that right there is nine wonderful, lazy Sunday mornings I can say to myself, “nah. I don’t feel like getting up yet…”

November 18, 2008 — 1:12 pm
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