I had a different post written for today’s Expat Diaries entry but I’m saving it for another day as there’s something pressing on my mind: Henry. Yes, my cat.
When I decided to stay in London for the long-term, I’d planned to bring him here with me. I’ll have my new visa by the time Matthew and I go to visit my family in Canada this fall and I figured it would be the perfect time to move him over. Now I’m not so sure.
This is no small expense. Because the UK doesn’t allow pets to enter the country in the cabin of the airplane, the cost of Henry’s one-way flight is almost as much as my return. There’s also expenses for getting travel documents from his vet and a handling fee at the UK airport. But I’ve been anticipating this and saving for it. It’s not what I’m worried about.
Henry might not seem like it because he’s such a bossy guy but he’s an anxious cat. If he has to stay inside for too long he starts ripping out his fur. And he’s neurotic about his routines.
A flight to the UK, including drives to and from the airport, would mean being in a carrier for at least 15 hours. And that’s if there are no delays.
He’s settled with my mom right now and there’s no reason to think he’d be happier with me than he is with her. I’m starting to wonder: is this fair to him? For a human, 15 hours, even if miserable, is something we can endure because we can understand the experience and know that it will be over eventually. But of course cats don’t have this kind of rational thinking. He won’t understand what’s going on.
You hear about plenty of cats who are moved internationally without any problems at all. But then there are others who are affected by the experience and never seem the same afterwards. And of course there are horror stories of pets who die in transit.
My mind is reeling, asking myself: Am I selfish for wanting to put him through this? Even if he gets over it eventually, is it worth the trauma on the day? Is it less selfish to let him stay the king of his Canadian neighbourhood and give a home to a British cat in need? What metric can I use for making this decision?
Moving to another country brings with it so many benefits, new experiences, and adventures. But it also comes with sacrifices and challenges you’ve never faced before. Sometimes it’s surprising which ones will really trip you up.
I’m sure that people without furry friends could be confused by the level of distress I’m experiencing over an animal, but I know my fellow crazy cat ladies will get it.
If you’ve had experiences moving animals abroad, I’d love to hear what it was like. Or even if you haven’t, how you’d go about making this decision.