Cat Stories

(Quick link to Part 1)

Nishi, waiting for her connecting flight in Schiphol Airport, NL.
Nishi, waiting for her connecting flight in Schiphol Airport, NL.

One of the EU’s requirements for your cat to enter the EU territories coming from third countries that doesn’t have favorable rabies conditions is the rabies anti-body titration test, also known as the Rabies Titer Test.

So what is a rabies titer test? There are numerous articles online that explains what a rabies titer test is and they can really go technical I often find myself lost. But in layman’s term (and a very shallow definition :P), it’s basically a blood test that measures your pet’s immunity to rabies virus.

Rabies titer test must be done by an EU approved testing laboratory. Unfortunately, the Philippines doesn’t have one. To get this done, here are my recommendations:


a. Get assistance from a veterinary clinic that has experience with pet export/travel.

– Although I believe that every veterinarian knows the process of rabies titer test and where to get it, I strongly recommend to go with a veterinary clinic that has expertise or experience on pet travel, just to make sure that everything is correctly done. This is by far, the easiest route.

b. Get ready for the costs.
– The titer test is something you should really plan ahead because not only that it takes time, this is also not cheap. In 2012, Animal House Veterinary clinic in Jupiter St. Makati, estimated the cost of PHP20,000.00 (about EUR326.00) for each cat, and may even give you a discount if you have a second cat. I’m not entirely sure if this covers everything, but I would advice that you call and inquire what is covered in their package. I didn’t spend much time researching which vet clinic to go with and what their rates are but Animal House is by far the most reasonable and I’m comfortable with since all my cats were taken care by them since the day I rescued them.

So why is it so expensive? Consider the following process:
(A special note though, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the following process if your vet clinic supports it. Please check with your vet clinic if all of these are covered by they package price.)

a. The vet extracts the blood from your cat and make a serum from it as the specimen they will send out to the EU accredited testing laboratory.
b. The serum needs to be in an airline and laboratory approved container.
c. The serum also needs to be inside a specialized box, approved by airline and laboratory, with a specialized dry ice that can last for 3-5 days to maintain the temperature of the sample/s so as not to spoil/contaminate it.
d. The sample/s has to be shipped overnight, or the fastest they can get, with a reputable shipping company.
e. The vet clinic arranges and pays the testing fee of the accredited laboratory.
f. The vet clinic also shoulders the fees for certificates and export forms needed to get the samples out of the country.
g. When the results are out, it will be sent to the clinic.
h. Eventually, when you are ready to fly, the vet clinic prepares your document requirements (Health certificates, export permit, EU pet export forms).

In my case, I have 6 cats to fly out so it doesn’t seem to be cost effective to take the PHP20,000 package as I thought it would be cheaper if I do it my way. Meaning, I took care of getting the airline approved containers, arranged the lab tests in Australia (there are closer EU approved labs btw) and shipping. Nevertheless, the vet clinic (Animal House) still played a vital role in this process because they were the ones to extract the blood and get me the permits necessary to ship out the samples. They also assisted me with the document requirements when we are finally ready to ship out.

Some important information about rabies titer test that may be handy for you:

1. Your pet must have a microchip first before carrying out the rabies titer test. This is for identification and documentation purposes of the certificate. I was required to get this done first before the titer test.

2.  Rabies titer test results doesn’t expire. Once it’s done and you passed, it’s done – provided that your cat’s vaccination is always up to date. So never skip a vaccination. And, keep the original rabies titer test certificate please ;).

3. The rabies titer test should be carried out at least 30 days after vaccination and 3 months before the move. I find this part somewhat confusing so I’d like to elaborate on this.

  • If your pet’s anti-rabies vaccination is not yet overdue, you can carry out the blood test. Re-vaccination before the blood test is not necessary since technically, the previous vaccination isn’t expired yet. You don’t really need to worry about failing the test provided that your pet gets his/her vaccines regularly with no lapse. But if you are in doubt, asking the vet is always the best thing to do.
  • If your pet was just vaccinated, you need to wait at least 30 days from vaccination date before you can extract blood for rabies titer testing.
  • Rabies titer test must be carried out at least 3 months before you move. Meaning, even if you have the titer test results, you can’t just fly out right away. You need to wait 3 months from the date of the test before you can fly to EU. I’m not sure what’s the waiting time for, but that’s their policy.

4. Rabies titer test must be done by an EU – approved laboratory. I went with AAHL in Australia, but I then figured there were a number of accredited labs in South Korea and in Japan.

If you want to read more about EU’s requirements for pets coming from a thirdcountry with unfavorable rabies conditions, please visit their site here.

Now on to part 3.

Every time I think about our great move to EU (Germany, for that matter) this year, it always makes me feel accomplished and relieved. And no, it’s not about me moving myself and my life here. It is because we managed to bring our 6 beloved cats with us, in one trip, from one side of the world to another.

Traveling with your pets can be really stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. You just need to be organized, well-informed, and of course, plan carefully. I’d like to share my experience and write it as informative, concise and as simple as I can with the hopes that it will help you have an idea of what to take care of in the event that you want to move or travel with your pets to EU.

Nishi in the plane, sneaking out of her carrier.
Nishi in the plane, sneaking out of her carrier.

Because I want to be as informative as I can, this blog entry will be divided in 3 parts:

Part 1 – Cat Document Requirements.
Part 2 – The Rabies Titer Test.
Part 3 – Basic Airline Requirements and Choosing Your Airline.

A special note though; I’ll be writing about my experience moving my cats from the Philippines to EU (Germany). Every county have their own animal import/export rules and regulation and this blog entry will be particularly about EU countries. 

Paperworks/Documents Required:

1. A Pet Microchip.
– This is not a document, but this is one of the requirements. Your cat should have a microchip installed. This can be done by your local veterinarian.

2. A Rabies Titer Test Certificate (Rabies anti-body titration test)
– Your cat’s blood sample has to be tested by an EU-approved rabies serology laboratory. Unfortunately, there’s no accredited laboratory that can perform this in the Philippines. You can get the list of accredited laboratory here. Note that they have to pass.

3. Your cat’s vaccination card.
– Anti-rabies vaccine is a requirement for your pet to enter EU. Your cat’s vaccination card will serve as a proof of anti-rabies vaccine that your cat had. Make sure that your cat’s vaccination is up to date.

4. Health Certificate.
– This is issued by your local veterinarian/veterinary clinic.

5. Export permit from Bureau of Animal Industry.
– This can be taken care of your local veterinary clinic.  The export permit is only valid for 10 days. I suggest that you process this together with the vet’s health certificate a few days before you leave. In my experience, it only took a day to process this. I took care of this 5 days before our departure.

6. EU’s Pet Import Certificate form.
– This should be filled out by your veterinarian. I took care of this together with the Health Certificate and Export Permit so they are all dated together. You can get the form here.

If you want to personally check the EU’s requirements, you can read more from European Commission website.

Now, on to Part 2.

I never thought that a little creature will change my life forever.

Mark and I were walking to the restaurant when I heard a weird noise. It’s like a crying bird. The street was still busy so I couldn’t really tell where it’s coming from. Mark didn’t hear it so I thought I was nothing and proceeded to dinner.

After 2 hours, we headed back home taking the same street and I heard the same crying bird again. We tried to look for it, and there, we found this tiny calico kitten, about 2 weeks old, crying non-stop while laying in a small ditch at the middle of the walk way in Leviste St. Imagine, it was a busy evening, and yet nobody gave a shit to even pick up and put this little creature somewhere safe. Mark panicked and immediately picked up the kitten. She was very weak and filthy with street dirt. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to touch the little kitten as it freaks me out. I never had a pet before. We both didn’t know what to do with her because our building admin doesn’t allow pets in the condo. But we couldn’t just leave her like that. We took her to our building and was immediately stopped by the guards. We talked to them and promise to take her to a shelter the next day, and that we are just going to feed it.

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The pot hole where we found Nishi.

Since Mark have experience with cats, he knew that cow’s milk is not good for them so he just cleaned the little kitten, and then googled for a milk substitute just to get through the night. Then we took the shade off our lamp and used it to warm the little kitten up. Everything improvised.

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Nishi’s first night in her imporvised shelter box.

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I was very stressed that evening because I was afraid the kitten might not make it through the night. I was also stressed that we don’t know any shelter that would take in the cat. Plus, this kitten cries so much and so loud – I was stressed to be confronted by the guards again and get me pressured to get rid of the kitten.

The next day, we took her to the vet for check up. She was a strong kitten. She didn’t even sip the improvised milk that Mark prepared for her, but she seemed to be OK. She was checked up, got her nails trimmed, and got kitten replacement milk for her. She also had been tested for worms etc.

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Nishi enjoying the sun and the park, a month after her rescue.

And that’s where it all started. We then decided to keep her, and kept her a secret :). I fell in love with Nishi. This little cat changed it all. She has awakened my sense of compassion and my total mindset about animals in general. For a person who has never had a pet in her whole life, you’d think it would be difficult to adapt. But I did.  She has opened my eyes to become a better human being living in this world. Nishi will be my forever inspiration.

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