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Medical Requirements for Moving Overseas with a Flat-Face Cat

Published on: October 31, 2019  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel


Pet parents demand two things when arranging to move their beloved cat overseas – safety and comfort. But we tend to think of those in physical terms. We want to protect our kitty from harm and keep her as cozy as possible in transit. But medical factors can also affect a traveling pet’s safety and comfort. And, if your dear Chloe is a flat-faced breed, those medical factors are paramount.

So let’s talk about medical requirements for moving your favorite feline overseas if she’s a Persian, Burmese, or other flat-faced breed.

Brachycephalic cats and dogs, often referred to as snub-nosed or short-snouted, all have one critical trait in common: difficulty breathing. Their flattened faces may look adorable on the outside, but their airways are deformed and cramped on the inside. That makes it hard to inhale enough oxygen, and that can lead to all sorts of medical issues for flat-faced cats.

Is she eligible to travel?

Everyday life is harder for your cat, but air travel can increase anxiety and also put pets in environmental situations that worsen their natural breathing difficulties. Two key examples:

  • Chaotic and unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells of air travel can be worrisome, increasing stress levels.
  • Warm weather makes it even harder for flat-faced breeds to get enough air, putting them at significant risk for heatstroke. In fact, airlines won’t accept any pets when it’s over 85o.

Some airlines are now so concerned about the medical ramifications of travel for brachycephalic cats and dogs, they no longer accept them. Or they accept them only under limited circumstances. Since your cat is a flat-faced breed, so you’ll first need to confirm that she will be allowed to travel by air to your destination.

How is her overall health?

Flat face or not, every cat is different in terms of their overall health. So fitness to fly is an individual question. Once you’ve determined Chloe is eligible to fly in your chosen airline, the next step is to consult her vet to learn if she is a good travel candidate.

You’ll have to visit the vet anyway, to obtain health-related paperwork Chloe needs to move overseas. But before you worry about what vaccinations or tests she may need, talk with the vet about her age and any chronic medical conditions related to or not related to her flattened facial structure. Air travel is harder on older cats and those with compromised health systems.

What might those conditions be? Brachycephalic cats and dogs are more likely to suffer from respiratory and neurological disease than normal pets. They often have bulging eyes which make them more vulnerable to ocular problems as well. Some also have gastrointestinal problems. Any of these conditions could put Chloe at greater risk for air travel.

Now, about that health-related paperwork

Now that Chloe has the go-ahead from your airline and her veterinarian, it’s time to turn your attention to that other medical requirement – paperwork. Every country has their own policies and procedures for importing pets, so you will need to learn exactly what is needed for your destination country. You may or may not need an import permit, but you will absolutely need at least one health certificate. Whatever is required, it is essential to follow those requirements exactly to avoid serious problems later on. Get busy on this as soon as you know (or even suspect) you’ll be moving, because depending on where you live now and where you’re headed, it may take months to accomplish all that is needed for Chloe to travel.

As important as it is to address the medical aspects of your kitty’s move, we know you want her travel experience to be safe and comfortable in every way. Our Starwood Animal Transport team can answer your questions and handle the details, giving you both confidence and peace of mind.


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