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Monday, 28 January 2008

Bringing Cats to Cairo

This blog brings together my experience of bringing my two cats to Cairo which I had posted up elsewhere on the internet. Please bear in mind that this is bringing cats from UK – London Heathrow to Cairo, Egypt.

Regulations may be different from other countries – in fact I have heard tell that you can bring them excess baggage from many countries. This is NOT the case from the UK!

It was remarkably difficult to find out what actually happens to the animals at the Cairo end hence why I am posting this blog. Relevant comments made by other people on the net answering my original postings are included in italics.

It is **ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL** I would say that you have an Egyptian, Arabic speaking contact in Cairo to accept full responsibility for the animals when they arrive even if you are going to be on the same plane. I was very fortunate in having a personal friend who did this for me – even though when I gave his number to the pet people as a contact in case things went wrong (eg I died at the airport or on the plane or something and the cats would be coming with noone in Egyt to meet them!) I had no knowledge that this act of service would be required of him.

Start 25th July 2007:

Because I have had a very difficult, nay almost impossible, time getting any information on this from anywhere, I am going to start this thread where I will post up, from scratch, the experience of moving my two kitties to Cairo from the UK as it might be useful for someone else!

I am not too proud to say that they are my substitute children and I am fretting like the worst kind of middle class mummy about to push her kids off to prep school.

My cats are over 11 years old and I am the only person that they are used to. I am the only person (apart from the vet) that my boy cat - who is a bag of nerves - has allowed to touch him.

I don't wish to go into the pros and cons of why I have decided to bring them with me - suffice to say that rehousing them with relatives in the UK is out of the question unless I was to shuffle off this mortal coil so I'm not going to enter discussions here about this decision. It has been discussed ad nauseum with friends and relations.

In terms of moving to Egypt, I think the climate and temperatures of Cairo - desert side - will be fine for them, it would probably be a very different story if I were moving to Luxor which is a lot hotter.


When you take pets from London Heathrow to Cairo, you are required to use a pet travel agent.

The agent I have contacted is:

The pet travel scheme
does not apply to Egypt. If you are bringing pets back to the UK from Egypt, then they will have to spend 6 months in quarantine. Bear this in mind before taking them with you. (In principle, I am intending this to be a one way move for them given their age and my plans).

I have a quote from Airpets - I'll post up the details in a separate post another day! Today, I went to visit the boarding cattery/kennels near Heathrow Airport where they will be required to spend 7 days before moving in order that various consular paperwork, vet clearances etc are given. This visit alleviated a lot of my worries.

You also need to know that the rabies inoculations needs to be given at least 30 days before proposed date of travel, but not more than 1 year. So factor that in to your planning! I am looking at moving them September/October so need to get the jabs done soon.

Comment from someone else:

Just remember that if you are not travelling on the same flight that you really need to get an agent to be there for their arrival at Cairo International.

Even with our agent it took 4 hours to have ours released.


Comment from someone else:

I thought the pets were given 'pet sleeping pills' before flying? Can't imagine them being awake and hearing the roar of the engines in the cargo section for 16 hours or more!


No, apparently you should never give pets sedatives as apparently they need to be able to control their body temperatures etc.
On British Airways, they fly in a section directly under the passengers, so they have exactly the same environmental conditions, temperature, air etc, but its in darkness as apparently they travel better like that.
Apparently, if there's no heating on the plane they won't let pets fly either.

Comment from someone else:

I had the impression that US vets routinely give out sedatives for pets in case of travel. The German vets have a totally different opinion about that. Well I'll see an American one when it's time!

Comment from someone else:

it is better for the animal to be in the hold rather than the cabin.
planes have a special pressurised area where animals go - it is the same as the cabin but quieter (no screaming kids) and also dark so the animals can sleep.
they should never be given sedatives as the effects of the altitude under sedation have not been properly monitored or researched.
most animals don't need it - they sleep most of the way.

Comment from someone else:
(note this lady is talking about 2 dogs from Abu Dhabi to Cairo and some years ago)

I've travelled with my dogs and had no problems. Now, I will say, they are 2 german shepherds and they went to Abu Dhabi and back to Cairo. they were on the same flight that I was on and I picked them up in Cairo with the luggage. You can imagine the stir it caused when these two big cages came out and they were barking. I've been told by many vets that it's not good to sedate the animals when flying international. People handling the cages need to know the animal is okay. All animals are put in an area of the plane that is set up for animals, they are not put with regular cargo. Make sure all the shots are up to date and you should have a letter from the vet that is no older than 10 days saying the animal is healthy. Egypt is very easy to bring animals in to. Talk with the airline and make sure you tell them you want them to be excess baggage, that way they will come through the baggage area which is much faster. Now, a cat may be able to be in the cabin and maybe small dogs so check with the airline. I couldn't imagine leaving my dogs or cat behind. As you said, they are our kids!

Comment from someone else:

The problem is not to bring them into Egypt (as Egyptian regulations are easy to fulfill and you already highlightened that) but to bring the pet back from a developing country to the EU - way worse is the UK. Isn't it insane that pets have to stay in quarantine for six months ? All this because of rabies? Even if your pet is proven to be free of any other contagious diseases? How will this affect your animal, your own happiness and your wallet.

Comment from someone else:

i'd speak to BA about the arrival of your cats into cairo - they should have staff at the cairo end who deal with the cargo (your cat will arrive as cargo).
they may give you a number for the cargo office at cairo airport - a bit of patience may be needed but eventually you will find someone who can help.

During my time in cairo, i met a few people who brought their pets in and no one ever said it was hard (or bad).

Best advice is to check with BA.

Comment from someone else:

there is talk of the quarantine laws changing. 3 months instead of 6. i think the pet scheme is unlikely for egypt for the foreseeable future but if they cut the quarantine time down to 3 months it will be good.
i have a friend who sent her cats from cairo to amsterdam for a short period before sending on to the uk - all to avoid quarantine.

1st August 2007


Took my kitties to the vet today to start the jabs. The vet gave them a health check and one of my babies has got a heart murmur.
The vet is doing further tests to get the full story and see whether she will be fit to travel. I have emailed Airpets to see what their view is.
Also, my vet wants to know what liaison she is expected to do with Airpets about the veterinary health certificate and export certificate as my vet is also a government vet and would have expected to do those things herself.

While I was there, she also spoke to DEFRA to get the official information on jabs and the only one mentioned on the fax was rabies. I think, therefore, that the cat flu and enteritis jabs are for the kennels purposes not Egyptian purposes.

Comment from someone else:

Hope your baby is okay to travel with you. Nothing worse than having a furbaby with a problem.
My vet here in Egypt can't believe the EU is so strange with the 6 month rule and 3 month. She said all they have to do is a blood test and they can tell if the animal is protected and does not have rabies.
Since I'm here for life and got all my furbabies here, I don't have to worry unless I need to go back to the states and that's not a big problem.

30th October 2007

Update: I am moving to Cairo on 29th November - a Thursday night. So, I asked the pet people if the cats could come the next night. Not possible.
PETS cannot come to Cairo when the cargo customs aren't there - and that means they cannot be brought into Cairo ON A FRIDAY NIGHT!

(This is from London where they are required to travel CARGO - don't know the position if you are in the lucky circumstance of being able to bring them in the cabin with you.)

It does mean they will be in the same plane as me.

Comment from someone else:

why cargo? I brought our dog from the US back to Europe under my seat. She was merely 5 kg (around 10 pds.) and spent most of her time in a soft petbag.

I think it's better if you can arrange anyway that you will be with them on the same plane.

Please ask Xxx (friend in Cairo who works with the airport) about cargo customs and verify the info you received. IMO they should work 7 days a week.

pets flying from the UK Heathrow have to travel out as cargo - I don't know if that's the case elsewhere, but you can only fly to Cairo from Heathrow.

British Airways also insist that you use a specialist pet travel agent - which is better anyway because they run round doing all the paperwork which I would have to do myself otherwise.

Even with Egyptair - if it weren't for British law - they can only travel in the cabin IF the animal + container weighs less than 5kg AND measures
no more than 45x35x20 cms, if you look at this it means you are packing your cat FLAT with no room for it to turn around or anything. My boy weighs 5.2kg without a cage, and my girl weighs 4.2kg without a cage so they would fail the weight test let alone I wouldn't want them in such a small container for so many hours (they have to 'check in' 4 hours before the flight for a vet check, and who knows how long they will be in cargo for).

The pet travel agent confirmed with Cairo that the customs officers relevant to pets - because its cargo - do not work Friday night.

When the pets come off the plane, they are taken to the cargo terminal.

I know it seems stupid - and it would be cheaper for me to buy them a first class seat each - but them's the rules.


This discussion went on for ages – people from outside the UK insisting you could bring the pets with you on the plane in the passenger section, etc etc. I have no idea if this is true for people travelling from outside the UK to Cairo. I have asked, and checked etc etc with airlines in the UK and IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO DO THIS FROM THE UK. Pets travelling to Cairo from the UK GO CARGO. Period. End of. etc etc

Update: The pet agents collect the babies 7 days in advance, provide the pet carrier (I'm getting a double one with a wire partition, so they both have their own section but can see each other and press next to each other for comfort if they need it, but can't fight - my girl gets incredibly aggressive even taking her to the vets).
They do all the paperwork, they get inspected by the vets, they are not allowed to fly if the vet won't let them either because of health or if there is anything wrong with the environmental controls on the aircraft.
Oh yeah, and they take the pets to the airport and check them in and do all that stuff as well. I won't see them before I fly. I'm only contacted if they don't make it onto my flight.

Update: 22nd November 2007

They've just been collected in the van - rather traumatic I'm afraid.

I'm gonna go and visit them at Heathrow - probably on Monday afternoon - just so they know they're not abandoned and to see how they are. My little girl is so fierce and angry and my boy will just be scared stiff.

ISA we will be on the same plane next Thursday evening.

Update: 25th November 2007

Well I called the pet place on Friday to see if they were ok, and the 'kennel maid' said yes they were fine, but kept kicking their bedding on the floor. I can see the advantage of them not being in the flat while the last bits of packing and decorating get done. They would have been traumatized yesterday with the chaos around them.

Update: 26th November 2007

I called the pet place again today - I had intended to go for a visit. I was told that they didn't eat for the first couple of days but were now eating and allowing the kennel maid to stroke their heads.
The place advised me not to come as it would disturb them - to be honest I was glad to be advised not to come as it would have taken me 7 hours to make a 1 hour visit and I had an idea they might be better if I didn't go.

29th November – I flew that evening and the air stewardess confirmed to me that the cats had made it on to the plane :D


Things people need to know... (and I didn't know until I arrived!!! Thanks to my contact who was a superstar for sorting it all out for me).

This applies if you are sending from London Heathrow to Cairo:

It is absolutely vital to have an Arabic speaking contact, preferably Egyptian, who understands how things work in Egypt, in Egypt who will accept full responsibility for the pets in Egypt. My contact very kindly did this even though I wasn't aware that this was the deal - I had just given their phone number as a contact in Egypt in case anything went wrong.

My contact was phoned a couple of days before the cats arrived and asked to accept full responsibility.

He was then told that the cats should stay 2-3 days in the airport 'quarantine' something I was completely unaware of at the UK end and had not been told about anywhere.

We will draw a veil ... suffice to say I was reunited with the kitties in the early hours of the morning after arrival.

There then ensued another debate about whether or not there is quarantine in Egypt. Now, I believe I read somewhere that Egyptians will keep animals for up to 3 weeks in quarantine if they believe its necessary. All I can tell you is what my contact was told by BA Cargo in Cairo. My contact was a personal friend and there was no benefit to him whatsoever to make it up. Things were arranged by my contact so that I was able to leave with them around 4 hours after arriving. I don’t know what the situation would be if you were not on the same plane as your pets.

Someone asked me if this applied to dogs, and also that they had not heard anything about quarantine in Egypt:

My response:

I don't know - it has been so difficult to find anything out. The UK end is remarkably uninformative about the whole process. I believe if it applies to cats, then it will apply to dogs.

Let me just suggest you need to get an Egyptian Mr Fixit on the case and an Egyptian friend or agent to agree to accept responsibility for the animals. I got my cats after 4 hours.

Others (non-British) have said they have bought animals 'hand' and not had any issues. I had to send the cats 'unaccompanied' - if you are using Heathrow /BA then that will be the case for you I believe too, maybe the quarantine only applies in that circumstance.

If you take animals EgyptAir, then if they are bigger than 5kg including the crate you will have to put them in the hold, whether they can go checked baggage or not and get delivered to the baggage carousels I don't know but seeing as none of the EgyptAir email addresses on their website have yielded any responses (cargo, customer services, information pr etc etc - tried em all), I don't know how you can find out.

Total cost to bring the two cats was about £1700:

Jabs etc from my vet in the UK £350 + Airpets (including 7 days board, vet inspections, paperwork, flight cases, flights) £1250 approx + 'commissions' Cairo end (the negotation for the commissions started at $1000!!! this is why you need an Egyptian ok!)


Update: 28th January 2007

The cats have settled in well and are loving it - basking in the sunshine in the garden and especially mummy's home cooking (minced beef cooked up with rice and vegetables) - western style cat food is extortionately expensive. I give them about 60% of their diet as the beef/rice/pasta/vegetables, I do buy biscuits for them because my boy always preferred those but am weaning him onto the less expensive Egyptian ones. I also give them tinned fish 3 or 4 times a week as well - sardines, mackerel or tuna.

I am advised that there is an excellent vet not far from me - a friend has used her for her cat and says the surgery and waiting areas are immaculate.

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