Friday, December 01, 2023 | Jumada al-ula 16, 1445 H
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Persy’s Way: A cat’s journey from Oman to England


Photos by Lena Petersen

No... It’s not mis-spelt, our Turkish Angora cat’s name is Persy. He is completely white, like the washing powder ‘Persil,’ and branded “whiter than white.”

We thought Persy should go to the UK, to have the best possible acclimatization opportunity, joining our other feline family, already in County Durham, with Sasha and Chris. We often hear returning expatriates complaining that “it’s expensive to move pets’ ‘home’ after a stint in Oman,” but mostly, it takes time and energy. Regrettably, many pets are ‘dumped,’ as inconvenient. How people can do that... I don’t know.

While considering our options, good friends, Andrea Wenke and Frans Kohler, going on vacation to the Netherlands, and offered their assistance, and Lena got to work. Cats going to the UK cannot fly in, due to animal importation rules, so Persy would fly to Amsterdam, and travel by taxi to London. Andrea contacted KLM registering as Persy’s in-flight ‘travel buddy,’ while Lena contacted Johnny Paget, of ‘Happy Saluki Pet Transport’ and arranged Persy’s collection from Schiphol Airport and transit to London. To keep the process simple for Andrea and Frans, and facilitate a smooth transition to the pet taxi, Lena also booked ‘Luxury Assistance,’ at Schiphol. Through social media interactions, Lena learned of other travelling pets, Mouse, Moxy, and Qatar owned Ahmedi, and with Julie-Ann Al Hinai, created a Whatsapp group, facilitating their pets’ travel to the UK with ‘Happy Saluki,’ making it much more affordable.

Of course, there were documentation and veterinary formalities, however it’s not too onerous. First, we completed authorization letters for Andrea, and ‘Happy Saluki’ as taking responsibility for Persy during his travels. Dr Peter Nolosco at Capital Vets had earlier completed Persy’s ‘pet passport,’ with his neutering, inoculation, and rabies tests, then Qurum Vets’ Varsha Karnick, their pet transport specialist, did the international documentation, while Dr Daisy Trilk gave Persy a complete physical check-up. The pre-flight certification from the government vet facility at Muscat Airport was also straightforward. The next day, we took Andrea, Frans, and Persy to Muscat Airport, and check-in and pre-flight documentation was efficiently checked by their ground staff, Persy’s cage was x-rayed, and we waved people and pets goodbye.

Lena had a reassuring message from Schiphol’s Luxury Assistance Operational Manager, Jim Seelmann, to say that he was ‘in place, with an assistant, waiting for the ‘travel buddies’ and the cats.’ ‘Happy Saluki’s’ Dave Clark, had also arrived and was in communication with the airport team, so the coordinated operation was coming together perfectly. The airport team assisted the ‘travel buddies’ through immigration, luggage collection, and customs, then uplifting the cats. Andrea Wenke explained that it was “hassle-free, efficient service by Speelman’s team, well worth the cost!” The group met Clark at an agreed meeting point, and the cats were handed over to ‘Happy Saluki,’ and after photos, it was time for goodbyes, the ‘travel buddies,’ ‘Luxury Assistance,’ and ‘Happy Saluki,’ each going their own way.

Clark linked the group to his ongoing location, to follow his progress, and whenever he stopped to check, feed, and water the cats, he sent photos. After crossing the English Channel, Mouse, Moxy, and Ahmedi were handed over to their owners en-route to London, while Persy stayed at ‘Happy Saluki’ with Sarah Paget until Sasha and Chris picked him up the following day. He is now resting and getting to know the wider cat family in County Durham, where for him, one adventure ends, and another begins.

Thanks to all those who contributed, Persy’s way was relatively smooth, and I guess the primary lesson is that, working with others, solutions may not always be as expensive or demanding as they may seem at first. And the final word therefore is a request to returning home expatriates... Don’t put your pet friends back on the street... they deserve better... in fact, Persy was only going to be a short term foster. But... they get into your house, your home, and your heart.

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