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our cats have been in Poland for almost three months

5 January, 2012

Three months ago, we were back in Chicago finalizing our plans for moving to Warsaw.

Mook, Ninja, and our footlockers in Chicago

In addition to making sure that our life would fit into four 23kg footlockers, we also had to make sure our cats had all of the necessary paperwork completed so they could come along on our yearlong adventure in Poland.

We’re lucky in that our veterinary office in Chicago is experienced in preparing animals for international travel.  Prior to making appointments for Mook and Ninja, I emailed them to see if they had any extra information for me.  I had done my research too, making sure that our airline, Lot, allowed cats to travel in the passenger cabin, and finding out what forms needed to be endorsed by the USDA veterinary office in Des Plaines, Illinois.  Requirements in Poland are a little more strict than in Morocco, and although I worried about this before we traveled, everything played out smoothly.. I don’t even remember the cats squawking much on the flight over.

both cats in Mook's carrier

Each cat required rabies vaccinations (which they were due for anyway) as well as a physical exam to make sure they were healthy enough for travel/entrance to Poland ($134 total).   Lot Polish Airlines also requires the bilingual English/Polish EU998 form, which we had our vet sign as well.  We then had to take the signed forms from our vet and bring them to our nearest USDA vet office, which is in Des Plaines, IL, and have them endorse the forms ($74 total).

And lastly, because Lot is more organized than Royal Air Maroc, we could make reservations for our cats’ tickets ahead of time.  We still had to pay on our day of travel due to the airlines needing to look over paperwork before allowing the cats on board.. and again, unlike Royal Air Maroc, they did actually read the paperwork and made copies of it for their own records.  The cost for each cat to fly from Chicago to Warsaw was $150.

our life, packed into two backpacks, two cat carriers, and four footlockers

We were among the first to check in for our flight that afternoon, and because the women working the check-in desk were kind and thoughtful, they assigned The Husband and I to two aisle seats in the middle section of the plane, leaving an empty seat in between for the purposes of snuggling with our cats mid-flight.

At some point, likely before we left US airspace, we decided to take our cats out of their carriers (they were wearing collars and leashes) and tuck them into the blanket that I always travel with.  They promptly fell asleep and stayed this way for much of the flight.  While flight attendants and passengers alike noticed our cats, the only reactions we got this time were stares.  Some people looked curious, and some looked displeased.. but at least our cats were quiet and not kicking anyone’s seat, which is more than I can say for some of the other passengers on the flight.

On our transatlantic flight, we were fed twice.  We requested vegetarian meals and were served sandwiches of wheat bread, butter, cucumber and tomato for both dinner and breakfast, and each sandwich came with a candy bar.  The cats sadly were not served anything, but we always travel with water, some kibble and a few treats for them.

Lot noms

Upon landing, our “over-sized” foot lockers were unloaded to a separate space.. one that we did not know existed until after we asked about our luggage.  We stood at the regular baggage carousel for 45 minutes or so, wondering how they managed to lose each of our four bags.  Once we found our bags, we made our way to the customs desk.. only to find that they were already gone for the day.  Because the customs booth was empty, we did not interact with anyone in customs, and as a result, I cannot say whether or not customs on the Polish side had any questions or concerns regarding our cats.

Getting a taxi was easy, and 25 minutes later, we were moving into the apartment that we now call home.

Mook and Ninja are excellent at adapting to new environments and were settled into the new digs before their humans were.

Mook and Ninja, at home wherever they are

2 Comments leave one →
  1. CARYN permalink
    6 January, 2012 06:31

    Thank you for your blogs Tracy. They are so very interesting, and I’m sure like the rest of your readers….I live vicariously through them. I had wondered about the kitties and how they traveled. I would hate to think of them in the belly of the plane with the cargo 😦 Did they have “litter pan” privilges….I wonder about that phase too??? Boy, how I wish I could live with only 4 footlockers of my stuff….I really need to down size! Take care, and I’ll be looking forward to more insight to my relatives native land.
    PS: That photo of the colorfull dishes are BEAUTIFUL!!!!

  2. 6 January, 2012 12:13

    Thanks for the comment! And thanks for the compliment on the dishes.. it was neat to see all the crafts sold in Kraków 😀

    I enjoy being able to write and post pictures about what I have been up to, and I’m happy to be able to share it all with folks back home, and Elsewhere, via the interwebs.

    I also hate to think about my bebes traveling in the belly of the plane; they are NOT cargo and shall not be treated as such. There is too much of a chance of something bad happening, and I think they’ve had enough excitement already in their lives. I’m not wiling to chance having something else happen because one of them got out of their carrier, their carrier got misplaced, etc..

    When we travel, one of their cat carriers (the black one, that Ninja typically occupies) has a litter pan sort of built into the bottom of it. It can’t be used (without making a mess, anyway) without human intervention, but at least it is easily accessible. On this flight, I took them each to the bathroom 2-3 times, and they both urinated in the litter box while in the plane’s bathroom. Unfortunately though, I mistook Ninja’s cries as we were landing for him being uneasy with changing noises and pressure, and ignored his cry for the bathroom, so I had a little bit of a mess to clean up once we landed.

    I enjoy living with only our four foot lockers worth of stuff, although it should be noted that our apartment here came fully furnished with all dishes, bedsheets, etc. Still, its nice to be forced into interacting with your possessions and thinking about what to take and what to leave behind, and maybe.. if you opted to leave it behind, you don’t need it at all and can recycle it, give it away, etc.

    It also makes it very easy to say “no” to acquiring more non-essential, non-consumable possessions.

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