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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Moving Elderly, Sick Pets

Nathalia send me this email...

I have two elderly cats, one is approaching 18 and the other 16.5. My 16 year old is epileptic and receives medication 3 times a day. She has been seizure free for about 4 months, but they can start up at any time…or so has been the case since they began about six years ago. My 18 year old is healthy, although the vet tells me she is in stage 1 or 2 of chronic kidney disease.
I am moving to New Zealand in August. I have begun preparations for moving the girls, but my vet suggested that I leave them behind because she did not think they could withstand the flight from Indianapolis to Auckland (flying cargo for most of the flight), plus being quarantined for 30 days in New Zealand upon arrival. (she was worried about my 16 year old going long stretches of time without her medication)
I am really torn about what to do. I could break the trip up, at least from Indy to LAX to give the girls a few days of rest before the long cargo flight. And from what I gather, I could visit them in quarantine and they would take care of administering medications.
I do have family members who have agreed to adopt my girls, but I’m devastated by the thought and have been trying to figure out what kind of impact that would have on them, as opposed to the stressful move with me. Do you have any thoughts on this?
I would tend to agree with your vet that this might be too much for kitties.  Stress is one of the things that can induce a seizure, and you won't be able to give medications while your epileptic kitty is flying across the Pacific.  I'm also not sure how comfortable you would be putting the care of old, less-than-healthy cats in the hands of a stranger for a month.  This would be a very, very hard trip on them physically, and though they might make it through just fine, I believe that there is an equal chance of having problems.  Going to live with some of your family members would also be stressful, but I don't think that it would be quite as bad as such a long international trip.
I know that this is an extremely difficult decision, and it's hard to leave such life-long partners.  As tough as it is, this is a time to put aside your own feelings and look at what's best for your cats.  Unfortunately, there is no guarantee either way, as they could do fine traveling with you and have problems back with family.  But I do think that the odds are best for them by staying in the US.  If they were younger and healthy, I wouldn't have any qualms about them traveling so far, but that's not the case here. 
In the end it's a matter of better or worse odds and not a black-and-white issue.  If you feel that you can't be without them and that they are so bonded to you that they'd suffer away from you, then it might be worthwhile to take the risk of travel.
Good luck with your decision!