Flying to Mexico with Two Cats: Advice Needed

Hello expat community! I am considering a short-term (with potential for long-term) move to Mexico from San Diego, CA. I have friends in Huatulco, Oaxaca, so my original plan was to go there for a year and see how I like it -- especially as a single woman, I like the idea of already knowing people at my destination in a foreign country.

However, I have two adult cats and as I've started researching flying with them, I'm getting more and more discouraged. I will only consider traveling with them in the cabin (rather than as cargo), and would prefer a nonstop flight...but might be open to a short layover or a flight + several hour car ride. These fur balls rode all the way from the east coast to San Diego with me by car for 5 days total, so I'd like to minimize torturing them with this move as much as I can!

But here are some reasons why I'm getting stuck:

1) Volaris, which has nonstop flights to many cities (including Huatulco) from Tijuana, has ridiculous carrier requirements for flying with a pet in-cabin. The dimensions of the carrier they require do not seem to exist, which is probably because no one would dream of making a carrier that's only 7.5" high (my cats wouldn't even be able to sit up in it). I haven't been able to find anything from people who have traveled with cats on Volaris, and I may have to rule this airline out altogether.

2) The nonstop flight locations from San Diego, or even LAX, are basically just Cabo, PV, and Cancun. None are places I particularly want to live, because part of my reason to move is to be immersed in Mexican culture (not an Americanized version of it) as well as enjoy a substantially lower cost of living. I would consider La Paz or Todos Santos in Baja, and could potentially drive from Cancun to Mérida, or maybe find something less expensive in the PV area (that's the only place on this list I've never been). It means going somewhere totally different than what I had hoped, and maybe I just need to be open to these areas.

3) There seems to be some conflicting information on what your pet needs in terms of cats do not have an extensive vaccination record (they are indoor-only so I've only done the minimum) and we've lived all over the country. I would happily get the required rabies vaccination, but I'm terrified that I would arrive in Mexico and get turned away -- after theoretically already securing a place to live, etc. It seems like it's a bit of a crap shoot!

My question is whether anyone has experience with bringing cats down via air, and any recommendations folks have -- as well as other locations to consider? Or should I just suck it up and get them to Huatulco via a long day of flights; potentially sacrificing their health but hope that they'd bounce back? They are 14 and 8 so not exactly "spring chickens."

(Note that I don't feel comfortable driving alone down there, although I've heard that's a lot easier in terms of bringing pets.)

Thanks in advance for any advice/assurances. I'd hate for this to be the reason I don't make the move...

Hello Kimberraw,

I don't currently have cats, but I am familiar with several of the areas you are talking about. The drive from Cancun to Merida is about a four-hour drive on pretty good roads, I have made that drive using the toll type road many times given that I go to Cancun at least once a year. Getting a more reasonable flight to Cancun would be easy then you could rent a car.

Your friends should be your best bet for how to get to where they are as well as checking Mexican sites for animal import requirements. I would think that they would have told you about the 6 months visitor visa. after those 6  months, you would have to exit Mexico to renew your visa. There are two ways you can do that, one based on northern Mexico and the other based on southern Mexico if you are driving a car or just flying out of the nearest airport.'

If I were you I would cross at Tijuana and check things out. You could just rent a car to do that. No flights everywhere, just crossing the border. Many do that and stay in Rosarito or Ensenada You are in San Diego, why make things complicated.

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