Greta Goes Global

The one thing that made my time in China lonely and challenging was having to leave Greta behind. So when the job opportunity in Korea became available, I was delighted to learn that several of my new coworkers had brought their pets with them.

Of course, it’s not easy to transport a cat around the world, though it is doable. First, she needs to be healthy. Fortunately, Greta had just had her annual check up, so I knew that she could probably go along. My new supervisor gave me a website to get me started:

Greta needed another check up, but from a USDA certified vet. It took me a while to locate one, but I finally contacted the puppies’ vet Elm Point Animal Hospital and they knew what I needed. The exam needed to be completed under 30 days before departure. I only had an estimated travel date at the time, but it was inside the 30 day window. (Another vet’s office, that supposedly knew how to do the inspection, tried to schedule our visit only two days before our projected departure date. Mmm, the titer test usually takes at least a week for the results to come back, so NO, we didn’t go there.)

It did cost more than a typical exam, (almost $500) and they had to send the bloodwork to the University of Missouri Veterinary School, but other than having to drive Greta out to St. Charles in rush hour traffic in a rainstorm, it all went pretty smoothly.



The other part of traveling overseas with Greta was the logistics. Her paperwork had to be completed in order to book my plane ticket, because she was coming with me on the plane. And of course the school wanted to book my ticket sooner than later to get a good price.

Delta’s pet travel requirements vary based on the aircraft, and I was told that we needed a soft-sided FAA approved kennel, no larger than 38cm x 35.5 cm x 22.4cm so that it could fit under the seat. I already had a hard sided kennel, much bigger, so I had to find a new one. The ones at the regular pet store were more cute than sturdy. I looked online and found a great website that was really helpful: . I found a carrier that specifically was Delta approved, and also got a special non-metallic harness to help with getting Greta through airport security – (I learned that carry-on pets are required to be taken OUT of their travel kennels and be inspected while their kennel goes through the xray machine).


The day of our flight was the first day of the polar vortex and we left the house at 4am. It was brutally cold so I asked my brother to warm up the car ahead of time for the ten minute drive to the airport. I had a baby blanket for Greta, but it was no match for the sub-zero temperature. I walked as quickly as I could to and from the car, but it was still terribly cold even inside the airport.

Greta meowed some at first but then quieted down. The kennel was considered my carry-on so I was only supposed take a purse on the plane, though I took a small backpack with extra pee-pads for the kennel and a small container of cat food. She did awesome at the security check-point! The special harness is snug like a Thundershirt, so I think that helped.

We were fortunate on the first plane, to Detroit. There was an empty middle seat and the woman in the other seat didn’t mind Greta sitting with us instead of on the floor. The second flight was even better, miraculously Greta and I had the row to ourselves! I do think the sound of the airplane bothered her, she seemed pretty unhappy when I checked on her. She wouldn’t drink any water when I offered her some, but her skin didn’t seem loose, which would indicate dehydration.


We arrived safely and were taken to our hotel. My new supervisor C went to the store and got us some litter and a litterbox. I had brought half a bag of food and Greta’s bowls from home, so she wouldn’t have to eat anything new and different right away. Within a day she had used the litterbox, so I knew she was drinking water, and of course the food was disappearing.

After a couple of days the hotel upgraded us from a room to a small suite with a living room and a kitchenette. That was nice since we were going to be there for two weeks.  But, even though I left the DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door, the maid came in every day. And then in the second week, it happened…

{Shortly after we changed rooms, I had discovered that the baseboard at the bottom of the kitchen sink cabinet was loose, and Greta liked to hide in there. I figured as long as the maid kept ignoring the sign, it was good that she had a place to go while the maid was there cleaning. (I did speak to the front desk, but it didn’t do any good).}

One day I came home and Greta didn’t come out of the bedroom. After a few minutes I heard a pitiful mew. I went into the bedroom, calling her, and she kept mewling. It was coming from underneath the cabinet, and somebody had fixed it! She was trapped. I immediately got down and ripped that baseboard all the way off. Greta came crawling out and kept meowing, Poor baby! I sat and cuddled her a bit and then went down to the front desk. They seemed not to know that I had a cat in the room!

I went back up and cuddled with Greta the rest of the night. Usually she sits near me for a bit and then lays on the floor or something, but that night she wouldn’t leave my side. She was traumatized.

She seemed better the next day, though wary. I went to the front desk again and asked them to stay out of the room. A few days later our two weeks were up and we went to another hotel for one night before we could move into my apartment. Greta did not use the litter box. And her skin was loose, meaning that she was dehydrated. I was able to get information on a vet who speaks English from the woman who previously had my job.

On Monday I took Greta in a taxi to Companion Animal Hospital. The assistant checked us in and proceeded to weigh Greta and trim her nails. But she stopped and called me over, showing me that one of Greta’s nails was torn and bloody! She had been fine when we left Missouri, so the vet and I figured it must have happened when she was trapped under the kitchen cabinet. OH I was so mad!

The vet cleaned it and gave her a shot, and gave us antibiotic pills for the bladder infection. By the end of the week Greta was using the litterpan again.


We’ve both gotten over our jet lag now – at first she wanted to play all night – and are back in a routine. I’m able to get American cat food and kitty litter at the BX, so everything is good. Greta likes our new bed and hanging out on our screened balcony. I brought her favorite toys, so she has something to do while I’m at work. And of course we get to cuddle every day.




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