Moving Countries with your Pet Cat: Singapore to Seoul
Loyal.D had a chat with Colette Alexandratos, a fellow volunteer and one of our favourite illustrators. In February 2021 Colette moved from Singapore to Seoul, South Korea with her cat Socks. Wherever life may take you, even in these challenging COVID times, there are ways to move with your pets and our Blog series hopes to reassure and share experiences from those like Colette who have relocated with their pet.
LD: Hi Colette, good to know you and Socks made it over to the vibrant and happening Seoul! Can you tell us a little bit of background about Socks, how old is he, where did you get him from, his personality, and if he has traveled before? CA: Socks is a Domestic Short Hair cat whom I adopted from a cat shelter in the UK called Cats Protection back in 2016. He is a tuxedo cat (black and white) with a white chest and white paws (hence the name of Socks). I decided not to change his name when I got him as I wanted to keep it, especially if that was what he was used to.
I always remember the day when I adopted Socks. It was a bright sunny day in May and although we weren't looking for a particular breed of cat, the volunteers introduced us to a few cats, and then they introduced us to Socks. He happily came out, greeted us and was friendly from the start. Although he is a black and white cat, when the sun shined on his coat that day, it turned a beautiful brown/burgundy colour. I knew at that point that he was special and I wanted to take him home straight away.
I adopted him when he was 3 years old and now he is 8 years old. Socks is more like a dog than a cat and I always remember the first time when I discovered that.
One day, shortly after getting him, I needed to head out to the local supermarket to get some shopping. We used to live in a ground floor flat in a quiet residential area in South West London, with access to the garden. As I headed out, Socks decided to follow me. I didn't want him to follow me completely as there was a busy road ahead. So he hid in the bushes when I was out of sight. On my short return back, I called out his name and he came rushing towards me and followed me back home. Since then, I talk to him and he understands in his own way when it's time to come in, time for bed and cuddles, time to eat and time to play. He always follows me around, even if it's just a trip to the loo!
Socks prefers the company of humans rather than the company of his own kind. He likes when people are together and will always sit amongst the group going from lap to lap. He is a chilled, patient and easy-going cat who loves cuddles and affection. If he doesn't like something he will let you know, he gets cranky when he is hungry! He is not fond of young children and if there is a dog in the house he will make sure the dog knows who is the boss!
During my time in Singapore, I met a lot of my neighbours purely thanks to Socks as he used to roam around my apartment block in the evenings. He is a great ice breaker when it comes to talking and meeting new people. Everyone knew me as Sock's 'mum'.
Two years after adopting him, my partner and I moved from the UK to Singapore. Socks was an integral part of our little family and we couldn't leave him behind. After being in Singapore for 4 years, our next adventure was to South Korea and of course, he had to come.
Socks did not have to do a quarantine when he moved to Singapore as he moved from the UK.
LD: How easy was it for you to move with Socks from Singapore to South Korea and what kind of paperwork and requirements did you need to complete? CA: It was pretty straightforward moving him from Singapore to South Korea. I decided to engage in a pet service company to help me move him. As he was coming from Singapore, he didn't need any quarantine and I just had to make sure that all his vaccinations were up to date together with having the paperwork to prove it. The only thing he needed was a rabies vaccination which I got done at our local vet. LD: Which pet service did you engage in and why? CA: I decided to use Shiloh pet services in Singapore to move Socks to South Korea. They had good online reviews and testimonials so I decided to go with them.
LD: How much time did you have to plan? Which airline did you fly with & did you fly together? CA: I had 4 weeks to plan, as it was very touch-and-go whether I was going to stay in Singapore. I flew with Korean Air and I wanted Socks to be on the same flight as me as that way, I knew we would fly out together.
LD: What kind of medical tests did you need to clear in order to enter South Korea?
CA: I needed more medical tests to enter South Korea than Socks did, purely because of the pandemic! In general, Socks only needed a rabies vaccination as all his vaccinations were up to date. Shiloh Pet Services also did a medical check on Socks a few days before he flew out making sure he was good to go.
LD: In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, were there any special requirements?
CA: Luckily not as we were coming from Singapore we had the all-clear. The only requirements were that I had to quarantine.
LD: Was Socks already crate trained or did you do that in advance?
CA: Although I didn't crate train him, I introduced him to the crate and left the crate out for him
so he is familiar with the smell and the size of it. We did a few practice runs of him being in the crate. He doesn't generally like being in the crate as he knows when he goes in, he is going somewhere.
LD: Any special tips for people planning to move countries with their cats? CA: When moving your pet, you have two travel options. To take the pet with you as 'additional luggage' or engage with a pet services company. The first option is obviously cheaper but you have to do all the paperwork and arrangements by yourself in advance as well as take your pet with you to the airport. It is possible if you plan in advance, though.
I decided to engage with a pet services company, purely for peace of mind and also for convenience. I wanted to make sure the journey goes smoothly as well as with clearance on the other end (especially if you are arriving in a non-English speaking country). Socks got picked up a few hours prior to my departure to the airport. The flight was an overnight one and the journey went smoothly. We both arrived in Seoul and due to the pandemic I had to go through extra paperwork on my arrival together with having to do another COVID test. My final arrival time at the apartment was about 4 hours after I landed. On my arrival I got contacted by the agents in Seoul to say that Socks will be delivered in the afternoon direct to my apartment.
Quarantine with your furry companion!
LD: Moving with pets comes with unique challenges nowadays, with the pandemic in full force. Did Socks have to quarantine with you or was it your choice?
CA: It was my choice to have Socks quarantine with me. I didn't want to leave him by himself in a new strange environment for 2 weeks.
LD: How did you and Socks handle being quarantined together? (some people would say to be quarantined with their best fur friend would be easier than their best human friend)
CA: It was the best having Socks with me during the quarantine. He was the perfect companion, keeping me company and entertained on what is an isolating and lonely period.
We did everything together, watch films, sleep and have our meals at the same time. It was quite funny as we would both look at each other when we heard a new sound, whether that be the doorbell or the washing machine going off.
LD: Did you do anything to help Socks prepare for this, especially as he was a cat used to the freedom of heading out with you? What did you prepare in advance for him?
CA: I made sure I bought all his favourite food, toys and blankets with me together with my favourite pieces of clothing he likes to sit/sleep on. I packed his regular brand of food and treats with me, as I didn't want to change his diet or introduce him to new food. I wanted to keep him familiar and in routine with his food especially when his surroundings are brand new.
LD: Did you pack anything special for Socks knowing you'd be stuck indoors for 2 weeks?
CA: Socks is an indoor/outdoor cat who loves exploring. I was a bit concerned at first about how he would be, especially being indoors for two weeks. On his arrival, Socks was aware though that he was in a new environment and that he was in a whole new country (due to the climate). He wasn't fussed about going out (I think mainly because it was cold) and there were so many new sounds and sights, that he needed to find his full confidence first before going out. During quarantine, he felt safe inside, and that he had my company as well was enough, so being indoors wasn't a problem in the end.
LD: Any tips on people who may need to prepare for a similar situation as yours?
CA: My tip would be to prepare your pet for the new journey ahead, by getting them used to the crate they will be traveling in and making sure you have all the paperwork on hand, as well as all their up-to-date vaccinations, done. Also take small quantities of their routine meals (if possible) with you together with items that they love, like favourite toys/blankets.
LD: How are Socks and you adjusting to your new non-tropical home environment?
CA: We are slowly adjusting and familiarising ourselves with our new surroundings. Everything for both of us is still very new, whether it is the sounds, environment, weather and even the language. Socks is my world and I couldn't have done it without him. He is the perfect companion. I am so glad he is on this journey with me. I think eventually I would need to get him an official passport!
Team Loyal.D misses you both but we wish you the very best in your new adventures!
Here are a few useful links if you need to move with your pet to South Korea:
The South Korean Government website (qia.go.kr):
South Korean quarantine inspection information (as Singapore is rabies-free, pets from Singapore do not have to quarantine if you show necessary documentation):
Other useful links:
We hope these stories help keep more furry family members together so no one is left behind. You can read more in the series here:
SERIES ONE: MOVING BETWEEN SINGAPORE & THE UK
SERIES TWO: MOVING BETWEEN THE USA & SINGAPORE
SERIES THREE: MOVING BETWEEN AUSTRALIA & SINGAPORE
SERIES FOUR: MOVING BETWEEN SINGAPORE & GERMANY
SERIES FIVE: MOVING TO SOUTH KOREA FROM SINGAPORE
Help us keep families together! If you have a moving story you would like to share please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org