Here’s how to import your pet cat into Japan


TOKYO – So you’re moving to Tokyo soon and want to bring your cat with you. where do you start

Japan is a nation of cat lovers: cat cafes are everywhere; 3D cats live on billboards; Lucky cats wave in shop windows. Hello Kitty was born from this country.

But bringing a cat here is difficult. Like most island nations, Japan is very cautious about the spread of rabies.

But don’t worry: with enough planning and a well-stocked savings account, it’s possible.

The Washington Post compiled this guide after extensive field research. Our process took 13 months, but it’s doable within 8 months. Here are 28 easy steps to import your Neko-chan from the United States to Japan.

1. Find an experienced US based veterinarian to guide you. Preferably one that gives you a mix of caution and optimism, like our vet said, “This is going to be complicated, but we can do it.” (If you’re moving to Japan without your pet first, you’ll have a partner and/or Friends who can bring your pet to appointments for you. This step may take longer than eight months.)

2. Fall down a subreddit rabbit hole to research tips from others who have navigated the process.

3. Get overwhelmed and then request a quote from a pet moving service. Receive a $5,400 offer to move your two cats. Shake your fist against capitalism and instead choose to find out for yourself.

4. Schedule your cat to have a rabies vaccination, a rabies booster shot, and a rabies antibody titer, which measures whether your cat is eliciting an immune response against rabies. Check with your veterinarian to see if their lab is on the Japanese government-approved list. Your cat’s rabies antibody level must be at least 0.5 IU/ml. Search Google for “IU/ml”.

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5. Ask your Tokyo real estate agent to help you find a pet-friendly apartment. This will severely limit your apartment search as there are not many options for foreigners with pets.

6. If you have multiple cats, decide which one will travel first (airlines usually allow one cat per passenger). The choice becomes easier when it comes to Liddy, a super chill cat, and Penny, who has severe anxiety and responds to major life changes by peeing and pooping outside of her litter box, and who repeatedly poops in her husband’s bed after You moved to Tokyo without you. (Penny’s note: I can not help myself.)

Pro Tip 7: If your cat has a bad anxiety attack and soils your husband’s bed seven times in one weekend, order him a fun “World’s Best Cat Dad” item online. It’s not ha-ha funny, but it will add some hilarity.

8. Make sure your cat has an ISO compliant registered microchip.

9. Wait 180 days before your cat is approved for travel to avoid quarantine on arrival.

10. Cope with your loneliness by fostering cats through organizations like Animal Refuge Kansai, which serve foreigners who are waiting for their pets or want to take care of animals while working short-term in Japan. (Now foster two kittens: mimosa and pinawho come from a litter named after alcoholic beverages and rescued from Tokushima in southern Japan. Take Piña to the vet because she has an eye infection. Make an effort to get her eye medication and then find out that Mimosa got it from Piña. Take both cats to the vet. Embrace the shame at the vet’s disappointed look. Successfully help them overcome their eye infections and place them in a loving home. Then replace your curtains, which the kittens climbed up and ripped apart on their way down.)

I live in Tokyo. He lives in DC Omicron forced us to get married if we ever wanted to see each other.

11. After your cat has been approved for travel, call your airline to find out about their international pet travel policies.

12. After a 30 minute hold on United Airlines when making an international call, find out you need to call ANA as it is an ANA operated United flight.

13. After another 30-minute hold at ANA, add your cat to your reservation and find out that pets traveling internationally must fly in the cargo hold.

14. Search Google for safety hazards in international freight travel for senior cats. Get a little panic attack when you find out Penny, 12, has a chance of dying.

15. Frantically buy items online to keep your cat as comfortable as possible, including but not limited to: tranquilizer spray, tranquilizer collar, pee pad, water dispenser, and an ANA approved crate.

16. Japan requires notification to the Animal Quarantine Service at least 40 days prior to arrival, with documentation of the soaring cat’s rabies antibodies. Load the online portal but find that it doesn’t work. Take a look at the fax number on the website and think for a moment. Instead, ask your Japanese-speaking colleague to call Narita International Airport to ask for an email address for the pet quarantine service. email to her.

17. Receive a response from the Pet Quarantine Service employee informing you that you made several mistakes on your form, including writing “Cargo” to indicate that your cat will be in the cargo area. You should write “hand luggage”. Don’t ask why, just change the form and resubmit.

18. Take your cat to the vet to obtain the international health certificate, which must be issued within 10 days of departure. Due to a delay with the US Department of Agriculture, schedule your appointment as close to the 10-day mark as possible.

19. Purchase a UPS Overnight form to increase the likelihood USDA will mail it to you on time.

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20. Bring your cat within four days of departure for her pre-screen for intestinal parasites. Ask the vet about anxiety medication.

21. Test the anxiety medication before you travel to make sure it’s responding well.

22. It’s departure day. Arrive at the airport an hour early to check in your cat. If you realize she’s peed in her box out of fear, ignore the smell. (Penny’s note: Again I can’t help it.)

23. Show your cat how to use the water dispenser in her crate by putting her nose up to the dispenser and saying, “Look, this is how hamsters drink water. If they can, so can you. It’s there when you get thirsty.”

24. Take your cat to the Transportation Security Administration to check for cargo items. Feel helpless as you watch the agent tie a green net around the crate. Wish her the best on her first transpacific voyage.

25. Pick up your cat at the Narita Airport pet pick-up counter in baggage claim. Hold onto them during import inspection.

26. Take your cat home on their first Japanese taxi ride. Realize that she pooped on your white carpet as soon as she left her crate because she’s scared. (Penny’s note: I told you it’s not my fault.)

27. Clean it up and pet them. Finally: She is home.

(28. If applicable: Repeat this process for your second cat. It’s your turn, Liddy.)

Congratulations, you’ve got through your first encounter with the Japanese bureaucracy and it won’t be your last.

Don’t forget to celebrate Japan’s National Cat Day, known as Nyan Nyan Nyan Day (“nyan” is “meow” in Japanese) on February 22nd, when the country’s heartwarming display of love for cats makes you almost forget what it took to make it around Bringing your feline pal over here.

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