Feline Frenzy. Can I Bring My Cat on Vacation to Japan?


Bringing your cat along on a trip to Japan can make for an exciting and memorable vacation. As one of the most popular tourist destinations in Asia, Japan offers incredible scenery, world-renowned cuisine, fascinating history and culture, and major cities filled with towering skyscrapers and dazzling lights. Having your furry companion by your side allows you to share these amazing experiences and create new adventures together.

However, there are some important rules and regulations for bringing cats into Japan that need to be followed. This ensures a smooth process for entering the country and keeping your cat happy and healthy during your travels. Doing the proper preparation and research ahead of time makes for a stress-free trip.

This guide will walk through everything you need to know when bringing your feline friend to Japan. From travel logistics to sightseeing with your cat, you’ll learn how to plan the perfect Japanese getaway that includes your favorite furry travel buddy.

Rules and Regulations

Bringing a cat to Japan involves completing paperwork, tests, and meeting certain requirements. According to the USDA, pets like cats and dogs may enter Japan with a quarantine period of less than 12 hours if the following conditions are met:

The cat must be microchipped with an ISO compatible 15 digit microchip. The microchip number must be listed on all documentation (https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/by-country/pettravel-japan).

The cat must be vaccinated for rabies at least 30 days prior to arrival in Japan. The vaccination must be administered by a licensed veterinarian and the cat must be at least 91 days old at the time of vaccination. A rabies vaccine certificate must be completed by the veterinarian.

Within 14 days of departure to Japan, the cat must be treated for internal and external parasites and issued a health certificate by a licensed veterinarian. The health certificate must show details like microchip number, rabies vaccine date, and parasite treatment.

Owners must obtain an import permit prior to arrival by submitting documents like rabies vaccine certificates and health certificates to a local Japanese animal quarantine service office. This permit allows entry at the airport animal quarantine service upon arrival in Japan (https://www.maff.go.jp/aqs/english/animal/dog/import-other.html).

Cats that do not meet these requirements will be subject to a quarantine detention period over 12 hours upon arrival in Japan.

Travel Logistics

When traveling to Japan with a cat, it’s important to make arrangements in advance for pet-friendly transportation and lodging. Most airlines allow cats to travel in the cabin inside an airline-approved carrier, though policies vary. Check with specific airlines about booking reservations for cat passengers and any fees. Some pet relocation services can assist with travel arrangements, documentation, and transporting pets door-to-door (APHIS).

Booking pet-friendly hotels is essential, as not all lodgings allow pets. Research hotels before traveling and look for those that are designated as cat or pet friendly. Consider amenities like litter boxes or pet beds. Alternately, staying in vacation rentals like Airbnb that allow pets can be an option. Plan adequate time when booking to ensure availability. Keeping documents for proof of rabies vaccination on hand is also advised in case questioned when checking in with a cat.

Traveling around Japan with a cat may require planning for pet-friendly transportation within the country as well. Look into rental car companies that accommodate animal passengers or pet taxi services available at destinations. Having a carrier on hand allows for easy transport of cats on public transportation or around cities while sightseeing.

Vet Visits

Before traveling to Japan, your cat must undergo a series of vet visits and health checks. According to the USDA, your cat must have a microchip implanted and up-to-date rabies vaccination at least 21 days prior to travel. Your vet must also conduct a clinical inspection within 48 hours of departure and issue a valid health certificate. This certificate proves your cat is free of infectious diseases and parasites.

The health certificate must contain detailed information including your cat’s microchip number, rabies vaccine name, date of vaccination, vaccine lot number, and vaccine expiration date. Be sure to work closely with your vet to obtain the correct documents. Keep in mind the health certificate is only valid for 2 weeks after being issued. Overall, plan to visit your vet 3-4 times before traveling to complete all the necessary steps.

In Transit

When transporting your cat to Japan, it’s important to take steps to keep them safe and comfortable during the journey. According to APHIS, cats must travel in an IATA-approved container that allows them to stand up and turn around. Make sure the crate is large enough for your cat but not overly spacious. Include a soft blanket and toys that have your scent to reduce stress.

Book a direct flight if possible to minimize layover time. Ask for a bulkhead seat so your cat has more leg room. Attach food and water bowls to the crate door and freeze water to prevent spilling. Feed your cat a light meal 4-6 hours before the flight and avoid sedating them unless advised by your vet, as it can depress their respiratory system.

Alert the airline that you are traveling with a cat and reconfirm upon check-in. Make sure “Live Animal” labels are affixed to the crate. Acclimate your cat to the travel crate in advance so they are comfortable being confined. Monitor your pet during layovers and offer small treats and affection. With preparation, your cat can have a low-stress flight.


Upon landing in Japan, you will go through immigration and customs with your pet. Be prepared to show your pet’s import license and health certificate. Your pet may go through an inspection at the Animal Quarantine Service (AQS) desk. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), the inspection will check your pet’s microchip number, rabies vaccination records, and general health.

If everything checks out, you will proceed to baggage claim and exit the airport like normal. The entire arrival process usually takes 30 minutes to 1 hour. Just remain with your pet during the inspection and have all paperwork ready to show officials. If your pet passes the inspection, you can then enjoy your vacation in Japan!


There are many wonderful cat-friendly sightseeing destinations to explore in Japan. Here are some recommendations:

Visit cat cafés, where you can relax and play with cats while enjoying coffee and snacks. Major cities like Tokyo and Osaka have many cat cafés to choose from, like Nekorobi in Tokyo.

Stroll through cat islands like Aoshima Island in Ehime, known as “Cat Island” for its many feline residents. Or visit Tashirojima “Manga Island” in Miyagi, home to over 100 cats.

Explore cat shrines like Gotokuji Temple in Tokyo, known for beckoning cat figurines called maneki-neko that symbolize good fortune. Or check out Imado Shrine in Tokyo which honors the cat god detectives who help lost cats find their way home.

Walk along Kagurazaka Street in Tokyo which has cat-shaped stone steps and shops with resident cats. Or visit Yanaka Ginza, also known as “Cat Street,” in Tokyo’s nostalgic Yanaka district.

Consider staying at a cat-friendly ryokan (traditional inn) like Neko no Mise Ryokan in Kyoto so your cat can relax while you experience Japanese culture.


When looking for pet-friendly lodging in Japan, some good options to consider include:

The Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel located in Tokyo allows pets up to 10 kg. They have designated pet-friendly rooms and charge a pet fee.

The Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, a luxurious 4-star hotel, welcomes pets in certain designated rooms. Be sure to inform them of your pet when booking.

For a high-end option, The Peninsula Tokyo allows pets under 5 kg for an additional fee. Their pet policy includes amenities like food bowls and plush beds.

Outside of Tokyo, the Hyatt Regency Hakone has 13 pet friendly rooms with views of Mt. Fuji. They allow up to 2 pets per room weighing 10 kg or less.

When booking pet-friendly lodging, be sure to confirm the hotel’s specific policies regarding size restrictions, fees, amenities, and designated pet rooms.


When traveling with a cat in Japan, it’s important to plan ahead for your cat’s meals and dietary needs. Some key things to consider are:

  • Bring enough of your cat’s regular food and treats from home to last the entire trip. Sudden changes in diet can upset your cat’s stomach. According to https://we-xpats.com/en/guide/as/jp/detail/10396/, the ingredients, flavors and brands found in Japan may be different from your home country.
  • If you do need to buy more cat food in Japan, visit a major pet store chain like Petio to find imported and international brands. Prices may be higher than at home.
  • Research pet-friendly lodging in advance. See if your hotel or Airbnb allows use of a fridge and microwave so you can store and prepare your cat’s meals.
  • Bring collapsible bowls for food and water. Carry bottled water for your cat to drink.
  • Keep wet and dry food stored in secure, sealed containers to avoid spills or having the food go bad.
  • Feed your cat on a consistent schedule, about the same times each day.
  • Make sure your cat has access to plenty of fresh water to stay hydrated.

Proper nutrition and avoiding digestive issues are important when traveling with a cat. Do research ahead of time and bring supplies from home to care for your cat’s unique dietary needs.

Returning Home

When returning home from Japan with your cat, there are a few key steps to follow. According to the USDA APHIS website, your cat must have a microchip, valid rabies vaccination, and health certificate to re-enter the United States. The health certificate must be issued by an authorized veterinarian no more than 10 days before travel. Your cat must also be free of infectious disease. Be sure to check your airline’s specific pet requirements as well. At the airport, your cat will need to be inspected at the Animal Quarantine Service export facility before departure. Once you arrive back in the U.S., your pet will go through standard customs clearance procedures.

According to the U.S. Embassy in Japan, it’s recommended to begin the export permit process with Japan’s Animal Quarantine Service at least 40 days in advance. Contact your originating airport to arrange an inspection reservation. Proper documentation and timing is essential for a smooth return home with your furry friend.

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