More and more cats are now traveling with their families, and that’s purr-fect! If you’re a planning a road trip from the U.S. to Canada with your cat, we’ve gathered all the information you’ll need to cross the border together.

Grey and white cat sitting in a packed suitcase looking directly at the camera

The idea of driving with your cat to Canada might make you nervous. But there’s really no need to worry! As long as you’re prepared, there’s not much that can derail your plans. To make your next trip across the border a breeze, we’re happy to share these tips for driving to Canada with a cat.

Like most countries, Canada places certain restrictions on visitors traveling with pets. If you’re driving to Canada with a cat, you’ll need the right paperwork at the border to meet the import requirements. If you don’t have the correct documents, you could experience delays at the border. So it’s worth the effort to prepare in advance!

Driving With A Cat To Canada

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency sets the policies for traveling with pets to Canada. Their officers visually inspect and can refuse entryconfiscate, or detain an animal if:

  • it is undeclared, including family pets
  • you do not have the necessary permits/certificates
  • it appears to be sick or infected with a pest or disease
  • the animal is transported in a non-humane way and not kept safe from harm and injury

Assuming you declare your cat, it appears healthy, and you’re transporting it in a safe way, the age of your cat determines which documents you’ll need to present to the border agents.

Woman With Cat and Computer on Bed

Kittens Less Than Three Months Old

If you’re traveling with a kitten who is less than three months old, the only documentation you’ll need is proof of age. This could be a form from the rescue, shelter, or breeder saying when your kitten was born. Or it could be a dated letter from your veterinarian with your kitten’s approximate age.

Cats Older Than Three Months

Everyone traveling to Canada with a cat that is at least three months old from the United States needs to provide a rabies vaccination certificate for their cat.

The certificate must meet the following requirements:

  • written in English or French
  • issued and signed by a licensed veterinarian
  • identify the animal (age, breed, sex, color/markings, weight, and microchip/tattoo number if applicable)
  • state that the animal is vaccinated against rabies
  • indicate the date of vaccination
  • indicate the trade name and the serial number of the licensed vaccine
  • specify the duration of immunity (otherwise, it will be considered valid for 1 year from the date of vaccination)
  • include the name and signature of the licensed veterinarian issuing the certificate and the date of signature

Canada does not require a vaccination waiting period. So, your pet is welcome to enter Canada immediately after he or she receives the rabies vaccination. Additionally, Canada does not impose a quarantine on pets arriving from any country.

READ MORE ⇒  Tips and Tricks for Road Tripping with Cats

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Rabies Vaccination Exemption

Some cats have health conditions that make rabies vaccinations dangerous. In that situation, the owner can apply for an exemption to the rabies certificate requirement.

All written applications submitted to the National Centre for Permissions must include a veterinarian’s letter stating the specific condition that prevents your cat’s vaccination. You also have to include the results of a Rabies Neutralising Antibody Titre Test meeting the minimum titre requirements.

Upon approval, your pet still needs an inspection by a CFIA veterinarian when you arrive in Canada.  You’re responsible for making arrangements for the inspection at your port of entry before you cross the border.

Cat in a yellow backpack sitting beside a black suitcase

What if you don’t have a valid rabies certificate for your cat?

Arriving at the Canadian border without a rabies certificate that meets the above requirements or an approved exemption will complicate your trip to Canada.

First, you’ll have to have your cat vaccinated for rabies within two weeks of your arrival. Then you’ll have to take the vaccination record to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency office.

In addition to the vaccination cost, you’ll be charged an administrative fee for each animal. These fees are due when you cross the border.


Do cats need a health certificate to enter Canada?

Health certificates are generally not necessary when traveling with your cat to Canada. However, it is possible for the border agents to refer any animal crossing the border for secondary inspection. But as long as your cat appears healthy, this is unlikely to happen.

If a cat looks ill, the inspection agents can request a health certificate from a veterinarian. Their primary concern is that the cat’s condition is not contagious.

We recommend that anyone traveling with a cat whose health could be questioned take a health certificate from their vet with them when driving into Canada. It’s an extra hoop to jump through, but it’s easier than a delay the border!

Cats traveling by air to Canada must meet the requirements of the airline on which they’ll be traveling. And most carriers require a current health certificate for all traveling pets.

READ MORE ⇒  US Airline Pet Policies

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Do cats need a microchip or tattoo to enter Canada?

Canada does not require a microchip or tattoo identification for traveling pet cats.

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Can you take pet food and treats into Canada?

Visitors traveling with cats to Canada from the U.S. can bring a total of 20 kg (44 pounds) of pet food and treats for their personal use. The food and treats must meet all of the following requirements:

  • The pet food and treats must be purchased in the U.S., commercially packaged, and unopened
  • All pet food and treats must be in the possession of the traveler at the time of entry
  • The animal that will eat the products must accompany the traveler at the time of entry
  • The products must be fed only to the animal that accompanied the traveler into Canada

For longer trips, consider taking a dehydrated pet food with you. The Honest Kitchen cat food is human-grade and great for traveling because a 4 pound box makes 12 pounds of food!

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Required Documents When Returning With A Cat To The U.S.

Cats do not need health certificates or proof of rabies vaccination when crossing into the United States from Canada. However, some states require cats to be vaccinated against rabies. For that reason, it’s a good idea to check with state and local health authorities at your port of entry.

When you cross the border into the United States, your cat will receive a visual inspection. Cats appearing to be ill might require further examination by a licensed veterinarian at the owner’s expense at the port of entry.

Any cat that appears to have an infectious disease that is transmissible to humans may be denied entry.

Traveling With Other Types Of Pets To Canada?

Learn more here >> Traveling With Pets To Canada From The U.S. – Tips For Crossing The Border

Cats are great travel companions and love joining in your travel plans. We hope your trip across the border to Canada goes smoothly for all the members of your family!

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  • I bought a cat in the US and am bringing him to Canada. Aside from a rabies cert., vet. reports, do I need to pay duty on the cat???

    • Hi Karen. Congratulations on the new addition to your family. And the answer to your question is no, there is no duty when you’re traveling between the US and Canada with a cat. Safe travels!

  • Hello. I’m just wondering if any other vaccines besides rabies are required when traveling from Canada to the U.S. via Sweet Grass, Montana.

    • Hi Daniel! Thanks for the question. No, the only vaccination that they’re concerned with when crossing the border is rabies. I hope that helps and that you have a great trip!

  • Hi! We are doing the inverted way – going from Canada to USA with a cat, by car. We are from Brazil and all the documents for our cat will be provided correctly to get into Canada airport. There´s any other need for this case? Thanks!

    • Hi Alessandra! Cats do not need health certificates or proof of rabies vaccination when crossing into the United States from Canada. However, some states require cats to be vaccinated against rabies. You’ll likely have that paperwork with you when bringing your cat from Brazil, so I wouldn’t anticipate any issues. Safe travels to you all!

  • Hi Amy, when they do a visual inspection of the cat do you have to open the pet carrier? Do they remove the cat from the carrier? Thank you!

    • Hi Laurel, and thanks for your note. My understanding is that they do not remove the pet from the carrier during the visual inspection. If they notice that the pet seems unwell, they might require a veterinary examination. I hope that helps and that you have a great trip!

  • I’m currently in in Taiwan with 2 cats who have feline leukemia. Would I be able to bring them with me if I must leave at the drop of a hat? (there is a strong possibility of China invading)
    I can’t leave them behind. I’m fearful cats with feline leukemia is not permitted to enter. Please help. I’ve checked several sites and there’s no mention of FL, but I would be devastated if they were put to sleep…
    If we’d have to leave we’d be arriving and living in New Brunswick (where I’m originally from, and family is currently residing)

    • Hi Jenn! Thanks for your note. I’m sorry you’re in this stressful situation. And, unfortunately, I don’t have an answer to your question. My advice is to speak with someone at the airline you’d be flying to determine their health requirements. And then I’d call the Canadian customs office where you’d be arriving and speak to someone there about your cats’ conditions. I wish the very best to you all.

    • Hi Jenn, I would suggest contacting the airline you would likely be traveling with and you could also consider contacting CIFA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency (what importing all animals falls under)) to clarify where needed. Their number is 1-800-442-2342. A big thing with importing pets is if they have communicable conditions, so there may not be an issue with your cats. But they do have to have up to date rabies vaccinations, so having that up to date will be really important. Make sure that all your necessary vet documentation is up to date. And be aware that you will likely either have to check them both underneath or one as carry on (as only one pet per seat is allowed), so having hard cat carriers will also be needed and you will be paying $100 to $200 CAD minimum per cat to fly. Just a few things to have in mind so that you can plan ahead as needed. So yes, there is hope yet for traveling with your ailing cats.

  • Category: Travel Resources / Tagged with: Cats