The Cat and the Bear

The Cat and the Bear
Charlie and his bear pal!

Ex-Pat to Re-Pat

Welcome to my countdown to repatriation!

After living in Athens, Greece for the lion's share of two decades I am on my way back to settle again in the land of my birth, Wales. I have a cat so that makes things a bit more complicated. Those of you in the same boat will know that you need a pet passport to take a pet into the UK, and that procedure takes at least 7 months. So, I decided to get the major removal upheaval over with and left Athens in January to winter on the island of Corfu. This is where my Greek odyssey began so I am very happy to have this chance to 'close the circle'.

So far I have focused on enjoying Corfu but the days are flying by and my mind is turning more and more towards Wales. This is starting to bring up issues and concerns about living in a new country. Yes, despite the fact that I was born in Wales and have visited regularly, after all this time of living away, it will be rather 'foreign' to me. I suppose that fellow ex-pats will appreciate more than anyone else what I am talking about. I would be very happy to hear from you!!

Thanks everyone for your encouragement so far in this adventure!
Love and light!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Repatriate Your Animals Speedily Now

It is a long time since I last posted but as I have been on a lovely visit to Corfu recently and found the pet passport situation much changed I thought I would let you know how things now stand.

If you read over previous posts you will see that my cat Charlie and I spent the winter last year playing the waiting game, quarantining in Corfu until Charlie’s pet passport conditions were fulfilled. That is, he had to stay outside the UK until six months had elapsed after being tested positive for anti-rabies antibodies (at least four weeks after his anti-rabies vaccination). But the good news for ex-pats in Greece who want to bring their pets to the UK (and since the worsening of Greece’s euro debt crisis this number has greatly increased) is that this period of six months has now been contracted to…21 days!! For full details please follow this DEFRA link: 

On the face of it, it seems strange that one minute it’s six months and then it’s less than three weeks to show that it’s safe to bring an animal into the UK; that they don’t have rabies. But everything is done for a reason, and though the wheels of change have turned slowly I accept that it was crucial that rabies was kept out of the UK. And, hey, if it had been a three week wait for Charlie to qualify I would have missed a wonderful winter on Corfu, so…

By the way, Charlie is loving living in Wales. In Athens and Corfu he was an apartment cat, only going out onto balconies to watch the world and other cats go by. (For many years he did have a companion, Princess, but she died…) Anyway, here he has the run of a house and garden and other gardens and even fields. And it’s great to see him running, jumping climbing, and making friends. But before all that could happen I had to get him vaccinated for feline enteritis and cat flu and other things. If you bring your pet back do take it to a vet for immunization before letting them outdoors to mix with strange cats.

When I took Charlie for his jabs I was in for a bit of a surprise. The vet said she would examine him to make sure he was healthy. She was listening to his chest through a stethoscope when she suddenly said, “Maine Coon”.
“What?!” I asked. Was Charlie ill?
“Maine Coon,” she repeated.
“What’s that?” I thought she was telling me he had a disease!
“It’s his breed, he’s a Maine Coon.”
I’d never heard of them. I asked her to spell it for me.
She told me that they originate in Maine, USA and there is some link between them and racoons.
I came home and looked Maine Coon up on Wikipedia. And…there was a picture of Charlie looking back at me. It was very weird.

I discovered that Maine Coons are the biggest of domestic cats. And that’s why I needed a small dog kennel for Charlie when I brought him over on the plane! (Your pet has to be able to stand, sit up, and turn around normally in their pet carrier. You take various measurements of them and input those into the relevant section of your chosen airline’s website and using a formula it tells you the size of the cage your pet needs.)

Anyway, I learnt that in Maine the winters are very cold and that the tufts of fur between Charlie’s toes are for walking on snow. And that his tail is long and fluffy so he can put it in front of his face if he is walking in a snowstorm, and the fur lining his ears is to keep them warm. I read about his origins and his loyal and good nature and lots of other things. It was quite a revelation.

Charlie was twelve years old before I discovered he is a Maine Coon!

I told a close friend. “That explains it!” she said. “I’ve been telling people for years about Charlie and how huge and fluffy he is and about his incredible tail and so on. And they’ve asked me what breed he was and I said that you’d said he was just a tabby. But now I know he’s a Maine Coon that explains everything!”
Yes, I guess it did.

Of course, Charlie is not a pedigree cat – he was born on a street in a mixed litter. And he is now an old boy with a little white hair. However, I am happy to finally know why he is the size he is. But I have to tell you despite all his fur, when we had snow for a whole week in January in Gilfach Goch he was not happy to walk in it at all! And his favourite place in the house at the moment is in front of the woodburning stove.

If you have repatriated a pet I’d love to hear how it went... I am also happy to answer any questions you may have about the subject. I do have friends who are bringing their pets back from Corfu this winter so if you need any specific information please contact me.

Wishing you the best of luck if that is in your plan.
Love and light!

If you are familiar with San Stefanos (Avliotes), Corfu please check back soon as there is a plan in the pipeline to create a special link between us.