Three Cats and a Road Trip: God Help Us
Moving season is once again upon military families and their pets. Nothing about this experience is easy. I cannot stress that enough. From the moment you realize you'd rather throw away everything you own than see it again; to when you accidently give away your kid’s favorite Red Rider wagon; to “gee, we now have to move three cats from D.C. to California,” it’s like trying to dig out the Panama Canal with a piece of string cheese. The realization about the cats was particularly fun, and took all of three minutes to conclude there was no alternative to driving them across the country. Just so you know, this is what crazy looks like. We’d never driven anywhere with these cats, because no one in their right mind drives around with cats. They are not happy-go-lucky, easy-going travelers. If they were, they’d be called dogs
Let us advance time now to driving day. Cats are preternaturally disposed to be passive aggressive when they feel put upon, which is always. Trying to get all three cats into carriers, while tying up last minute moving details and packing the car, proved just a little too much for one furry passenger. Lucy, my daughter’s cat, bolted into the woods behind our house, causing a two-hour delay in our departure. After pleading with God to bring the stupid cat back because telling my daughter, “We didn’t leave Lucy, Lucy left us,” would likely cost me money in therapy… the cat returned.
With a visual on all three cats, we began, by sheer human strength alone, putting them in cat carriers. Anyone who has ever tried to do this knows there is a direct relationship between a cat’s supernatural ability to resist being moved and the degree to which it is necessary to move them. Once loaded, we were ready to begin our adventure, or so we thought. Remember how I said nothing is easy?
I will now describe the first fifteen minutes of our trip. The 14 year-old cat begins to yowl, a rhythmic, constant, and loud, yowl. Lucy, the escape artist, goes quiet. Lily, the kitten, curls up and goes to sleep, because she is wonderful, and my favorite, a fact I frequently point out to the other two. Thinking, “this isn’t so bad,” I can live with one cat crying, I have an iPod, it happened. Ten minutes into the trip, the smell hits the front seats. Parents with babies will know what I’m talking about; where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I start laughing, because if you don’t have a sense of humor, you will throw yourself into traffic.
We stop at a gas station to check on the cats. The old cat was fine. The kitten was fine. Lucy was, well, you know that scene in “Dumb and Dumber” where Harry delivers the dogs to the dog show after rolling them around in the back of the truck at top speed? She and her cage looked strikingly similar. She had gone into shock, was foaming at the mouth, and was the culprit of the “smell.” This was going to be a fun six days.
Did I mention we still had to drop off the cable box at the mall? So we go to the mall, to drop off the cable box. At which point, I elect to take care of the cat, because being in a locked car with a potentially psychotic cat and cleaning a cage was preferable to dealing with Verizon. I eventually got the cage clean, and was able to finally calm Lucy down; and though my repeated attempts to force-feed her water by yelling “DRINK!” failed, she did manage to arrive alive, to a happy little girl.
Have you ever had a fun experience traveling with pets? Please share. As an aside, I completely understand now why someone might strap a pet to the roof.