One of the hurdles I faced in moving to Hawaii was completing the set of requirements outlined by the Department of Agriculture so my cats would not be quarantined upon arrival in Hawaii. It took me eight months to complete all the requirements: two rabies vaccines administered months apart, a blood test submission, a health certification, and a vet-administered tick treatment.
Once I submitted Alice’s and Amy’s blood tests, Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture was able to calculate the date on which they would become eligible to enter the state without being quarantined: August 4. So that became our official moving day.
Next I had to decide how to transport my cats. I dreaded the thought of them traveling in a commercial jet’s baggage hold, but because there’s a quarantine checkpoint that all animals must go through when they arrive in Hawaii from the mainland, pets are not allowed to fly in the cabin of any commercial airline (except for service animals). This way, as soon as the plane lands, the baggage handlers can take your animals directly to the airport’s quarantine holding station for processing.
On moving day, despite my best efforts to make the trip as comfortable as possible for Alice and Amy, they were terrified during the whole air-travel ordeal. I think all the unfamiliar people and noises in the airport frightened them more than anything. I remember holding Alice while a TSA agent inspected inside her pet carrier for any hidden bombs and such. I could feel her shaking, something she’d never done before, even during vet visits.
But at least my careful preparation in completing all the Department of Agriculture’s requirements paid off. When we arrived at Honolulu Airport, I had to wait only a few minutes to get my cats back from the quarantine holding station. When they were brought out, Amy and Alice were hunkered down in their carriers, looking shell-shocked and quite displeased.
After a 15-minute taxi ride to our new house, I brought them inside and was finally able to let them out of their carriers. I immediately saw (and smelled) that Alice had soiled herself, so off to the laundry sink we went to give her a bath — the first (and hopefully last) she’s had. She was not a happy camper, and after several claw-bearing escape attempts, neither was I!
In the meantime, Amy had gone straight downstairs and hid under the first bed she could find. As soon as Alice was done with her bath, she followed suit. I left them alone for a while, so they could get used to their surroundings. With some coaxing, they eventually came out from under the bed and, creeping low to the ground, sniffed all over the house.
They soon became interested in looking out the windows that faced the backyard (and beyond that, the Pacific Ocean). This view was certainly different from our last house, which was a single-story home whose view didn’t extend beyond the fruit trees in the backyard. I can only imagine what my cats thought when they first saw that big blue swath of ocean on the horizon…