I am so happy to introduce you to Simba (the furry one) and Lili (the young girl), and tell you about how to bring a cat from the Middle East to Europe, based on my experiences with these two!
Scroll further down to read:
- Review on adopting a cat from Souq Waqif, Qatar
- Review on adopting a cat with Rescat, Bahrain via Verhuisdieren
- How to bring a cat from the Middle East to Europe
Simba is from Qatar!
Simba has lived with us since June 2018.
While in Qatar, we lived close to Souq Waqif (the local street market) and we used to go there a lot. One evening after having a drink, we decided to go check the animal’s area.
We didn’t like going there because it’s the type of place where all kinds of animals are mixed together in cages that often are too small for them. It’s sad to see, honestly!
But that one day, we met a cat that was all alone in his cage and was already way bigger than any other cat in that stall. As I got closer, he rushed to rub against my hand and kiss me.
Review on adopting a cat from Souq Waqif, Qatar
It was love at first sight! I just had to have him!
Yes, I absolutely am the impulsive type. We weren’t looking to have a pet and we didn’t even know about all the procedures involved in traveling with a cat around the world. We learned about it all much later!
Still at the Souq, we asked for some more information about Simba and the guy working at that stall told us that this cat was “on sale because he was too old already”.
That was a sad thing to hear! Especially because both myself and my husband had melted over that cat.
A 5-month-old baby, as beautiful as Simba is, and he was about to be tossed on the streets because he wasn’t small enough for people to pay for him anymore. If that “sale price” didn’t work, then it would have been it for him. It was all about money and business. Nothing about the fact that these animals are living beings… So we paid whatever he asked us for. I believe it was 600 QAR reduced from 4000 QAR (that’s approximately 145 euros versus 965 euros).
(I know this may seem like a high price when you put into euros but trust me when I say that in the Middle East, it really isn’t.)
And although I am not a fan of purchasing a pet as if it is a product, in this case, I was literally paying to save his life. And nothing felt better!
At The Veterinary Surgery, Simba’s vet told us that 90% of pets coming from the Souq are not in the best shape and was surprised he actually survived for a whole 5 months there.
After a quick check-up, the vet advised us to return two weeks after having him. “Because in most cases, they don’t make it that long… within two weeks you should know.”
Oh, those two weeks took so long!! But everything seemed to be going well and two weeks later we joyfully assumed that Simba was there to stay.
Moving to The Netherlands with Simba, the cat
When we moved back to Europe, the three of us were separated for a long period of time before settling in The Netherlands.
I was the first to move to Holland, followed by my partner who had stayed in Spain for a few months, while Simba lived with gramma for 9 (endless) months.
Although everyone seems to have pets in The Netherlands, it was impossible to find a rental property that would legally allow us to have one. And that was a particularly critical aspect of us deciding to buy… Yes, I mean a house! Impulsive again?? Naaa, this time it was something I really wanted for a while, and bringing Simba was yet another incentive.
Not too long after being all settled in our charming 100-year-old home, we thought Simba needed a friend. And so… Lili joined the family!
Lili is from Bahrain!
She is the most recent addition to our household. She moved in by chance in January 2o2o, went through serious struggle while settling in, and now is so loved that she actually has to go get some fresh air every once in a while. Guilty me!
Even though I can’t say it was love at first sight this time around, and I did go through a rough couple of months to start with, I just love her so much that I no longer handle well even falling asleep if she isn’t around.
Review on adopting a cat with Rescat, Bahrain via Verhuisdieren
I found Lili through Verhuisdieren.
As a new expat to The Netherlands, I had no idea how adopting a cat would go. But this website made life easy!
Upon registration, you’ll find that this platform really stands for its mission of creating “the ideal match between animal and human”. It will ask you questions about the type of pet you are looking for as well as your home environment and it will only present you with those pets that would fit your conditions. Awesome, right?
It is used by individuals who are no longer able to care for their pets as well as by associations that have all types of animals looking for a loving home. And it calls your attention to the importance of understanding that not only a pet needs to be the right match for you, but you also need to be the perfect new parent of that pet.
In the end, when adopting a pet, there are tons of things to consider. Beauty or age shouldn’t be the main decision factors; those would be the pet’s personality or needs. And you do want to be sure this pet is not going anywhere else after settling in with you!
Via Verhuisdieren, I came across Fifi: a beautiful tricolor kitten looking for a forever home. But in conversation with Laila from Rescat, we realized Fifi wouldn’t be the best fit for our home, as it could be a hard task for her and Simba to become friends.
Meanwhile, Lili was also looking for a new home where she could live happily ever after, and Laia thought that she would be our perfect match.
Rescat is a non-profit organization based in Bahrain. Since there are more cats than homes where cats could grow old and be loved, they spread the word into Europe and other areas of the world.
The best part? They take care of all the paperwork needed for your new furry friend to get to you safely and legally.
After signing a bunch of papers, I picked up Lili from Schiphol Airport on January 12, 2020.
How to bring a cat from the Middle East to Europe
- Simba’s relocation step by step:
Step 1 – Find a good veterinary clinic to help you with the entire process and all necessary paperwork!
To be on the safe side, make sure you start planning for the move at least six months before leaving the country. Incorrect paperwork will prevent your pet from flying!
Despite my anxiety, The Veterinary Surgery, where Simba used to go, was restless on guiding me through the process.
Step 2 – Learn about the airlines that will fly the type of pet you own, preferably having direct flights available to your destination.
For traveling with Simba, I chose Qatar Airways which flew into Madrid. Although my final destination was Lisbon, since there were no direct flights available at the time, I wanted to avoid stopping anywhere else. Firstly, not to have Simba prevented from eating or using the toilet for hours on end, and then because stopping in another non-European country could raise further questions.
Another key selection factor for using Qatar Airways was that Simba could travel in the cabin right next to me!
Step 3 – Microchip your pet. That’s probably something you would do anyway, but if you plan to travel, then that’s another must you get checked off the list.
Step 4 – Get all the vaccination handled. Cats must have panleukopaenia, rhinotracheitis, and calicivirus vaccinations administrated at least 30 days before traveling.
Step 5 – Famous rabies! Although it is not mandatory in all countries, if a pet is going to be traveling, then it becomes a must.
Now, bear in mind that your pet needs to be at least 3 months old before being administrated with rabies. And a certified test (which is only done in some countries) can only be done 30 days later. You need to make sure that all due dates match your planned departure date.
Step 6 – Gather all the documents, including an internationally recognized pet’s passport, a health certificate, an import permit, and an EU form. A good veterinary clinic should be able to help you sort these out. But remember that some of these documents are only valid for a period of 30 days once reviewed by the government.
Now, I don’t mean to scare you or make it sound harder than it actually is. But you’ll probably be juggling around the calendar when it comes to booking flights and putting it all together within the required timings.
Previous research and good time management are key!
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