To make things fun, each state is allowed to set their own requirements to import a pet. However, California is pretty relaxed (at least for cats, I have no information about dogs). By the time we met all the qualifications to leave Singapore, we had more than met the requirements to enter California.
Obviously you can meet all the requirements and fly with your pet without the aid of a third party. My friend Stacey wrote about doing so three adults, an eight week old baby, and a cat. This is the least expensive way to move your pet.
In our case, we had no idea where we would be living, if the temporary housing would allow cats or if we’d be staying in a hotel, somit wasn’t the right call for us to handle the transition for the cats. We elected to board the cats with Kittycare Haven, who we’d been using for years for boarding the cats whenever we went away, and have them handle the transition.
The biggest surprise for us was the cost of flying the cats over on their own. It was actually roughly the same cost to pay for the owners of Kittycare Haven to fly to California with the cats in cabin with them (yes it’s allowed, you just need to notify the airline and there is a small additional fee) and for their hotel and food allowance for a night as it was to fly the cats in the pet cabin. Having the Kittycare people fly with the cats also meant that they spent less time in the airport and were better looked after. In February 2017 that was roughly 2500 USD.
It ended up being an almost two month separation from our kitties, and our house didn’t really feel like a home until they were back with us (and our stuff arrived, but that’s a whole other post).