Woman Disappears During Road Trip with Cats. Cats Wanted for Questioning.

Hear ye, hear ye! It has come to pass! NICOLE SHALL ESCAPE THE DESERT AT LONG LAST!

Arizona house is sold, Virginia house procured, school year finished, movers scheduled, resignation submitted, and all finer details busily attended to. The girls will fly to my mom’s for Nanapalooza ‘16, Scottie will prep our new home for my arrival – i.e. remove his action figures from all the ridiculous places they currently reside (last FaceTime session I noted some lining the mantle of the fireplace, YAY), and with a heavy sigh I’ll lock up an empty house, effectively bidding farewell to the backdrop of my 30s. I’ll then hop in my new-ish vehicle and embark on a five day road trip across our great nation.
With CATS!

‘Cause nothin’ screams road trip like the unholy, guttural chorus of two seriously pissed off cats!

But first, let’s take a side trip down Cat Lady Lane and become better acquainted with Dr. Pickles and his little brother, Buddha, aged 5 and 2.

This is Dr. Pickles. He has trust issues.

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Took 2 years, but he finally trusts us. Mostly.

His first family dropped him off at a kitty orphanage when he was only five months old. He spent the next three months of kittenhood confined to a cage, until the day we arrived with a toddler who wanted “a REAL cat, one that I can pet, and name Pickles!” Our handsome black prince spent the first nine months of his life being called “Doc.” And so it was in this manner Dr. Pickles earned his PHD.

In time we learned he was also a colossal diva. I used to think he didn’t cover his poo because he’d been ripped from his mother too young. I’m now sure he doesn’t cover his poo because poo covering is for peasants! As for affection, such is meted out on very strict terms. The majority of petting is allowed between the hours of 5 and 8 AM. But not regular old petting. Oh no (‘Tis for peasants!). These sanctioned petting hours are more akin to a ritual worshiping a deity. During the hours of sunrise Pickles throws himself to the floor, directly in your path, stretching to his full, impressive length, and lays before you, prone. One gleaming yellow eye in your direction signals that, at this time, and this time only, peasants may approach, to vigorously rub his soft, wonderful belly –  in thanks, and humility, and prayers for a good harvest.

He’s fond of ritual. Like, OCD-fond. Like the precise and repetitive paw swiping (scent marking) of the floor surrounding  his food dish after we’ve filled it, but before he eats. We call it the Pickles Dance. And then, after feasting, he will fetch a toy mouse and plop it in his dish. As if to say, “It could have used more flavor. Peasants.”
He likes things just so.
And he pees on change.

Buddha, on the other hand…

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He Speshul

True to his namesake, Buddha is waaaaaay more chill! He shares none his brother’s stranger anxiety or “shittin’ particulars.” If Buddha had a Tinder profile, it would read: “Easygoing, HWP, likes parkour and kneading softy blankies, catnip friendly, open to dogs.” He also shares none of his brother’s intelligence. We adopted him at 8 weeks, and he seemed to cease growing soon thereafter. He’s a petite thing, with his dainty orange paws and the world’s tiniest orange head – that houses an even tinier knucklehead brain. He’s mentally a teenager right now, so he’s as much sweet and adorable as he is a shithead and an idiot.

And they’re both very, VERY good boys!

Truly they are. I love them with all my heart! So much so, I’m committed to making their impending transition the least traumatic experience possible. Especially considering how their trauma won’t begin on travel day one. It will start the day the movers come in and dismantle their entire indoor cativerse!

I considered flying them, of course. One terrifying day in the belly of a plane (no sedatives allowed) vs. five days of home deconstruction and five more days trapped within the terror vortex known as CAR (with a once trusted human who’s now clearly out to destroy them)! A few years back my friend Rose made the drive from this corner of the desert to Chicago, IL with her own finicky felines in tow. I consulted her immediately, and she just as immediately informed me that cargo-shipping pets when temps run above 85 is a no-go. Arizona in June = Fahrenheit 100. She recommended I call the vet and talk sedatives.

So I did.
Here’s how that five minute car ride went:

 

Good news is, they’re healthy. Aside from Pickles’ Periodontal Disease. He needs to have two teeth extracted, to the tune of 500 dollars, because his body white-blood-cell-ninja attacks his tartar buildup so hard it inadvertently destroys his teeth in the process. And that process is FAST; two years ago his teeth were exemplary! They told me I could wait until we’re settled with a vet in VA, that his situation isn’t urgent, but that it’s also likely causing him pain.

I scheduled his oral surgery for this Tuesday. I’d rather he be pain-free and convalesce in the home he knows (and pull $500 out of my asssss—-stounding magical money tree) before the Klan of Mover Demonoids commeth and tear his everything all to shit.

Their cat carriers have been out and open in the living room for weeks. I’m armed with sedatives, Feliway, and treats. I’ve got harnesses, comforts of home, a road-time game plan of 8-hours-a-day-tops, and pet-friendly hotels galore. All tips from the brave fur-parent souls who’ve come before me, and have graciously shared their wisdom.

But, since I’m currently competing with Dr. P on the anxiety front..…
FURTHER ADVICE WELCOME!

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6 thoughts on “Woman Disappears During Road Trip with Cats. Cats Wanted for Questioning.

  1. Ambrosia Rose

    If it helps, traveling with cats was actually much easier than I expected. The hardest part was getting the sedatives into them – once they were conked out, we just loaded them up and drove with little trouble. And once we got to the hotel each night, they settled right in (much to my surprise). Brian brought along a big comforter that smelled like home to put on the bed, which seemed to help.

    First suggestion: get a routine going. Cats appreciate routine just like people do. Our basic day-to-day schedule was: pull into hotel, get out portable litterbox (really just a container with a locking lid from Target), fill food and water dishes, let cats out to explore, go to dinner, come back and spend time with cats, sleep, wake up earlyish (around 8), scoop out box, give kitties sedatives, go to breakfast, come back, load up drugged-out cats and luggage, and go. By far the toughest part was getting the sedatives into the cats.

    Which brings me to my second suggestion: if at all possible, find a trip buddy. Not only will it be easier if you have someone to share driving duties with, but having help getting pills into reluctant kitties is pure gold. (Ian, our dear friend, was indispensable not just for driving the moving van cross-country but also for his willingness to endure bites and scratches in the name of cat-drugging.) Wrapping them in a towel helps; for Tripp (who was particularly neurotic), we also mashed up some pills in tuna broth and put it into a syringe. A practice run or two before you go is probably a good plan, too.

    Best of luck to you all! You’ve got this, I have no doubt.

    Reply
    1. Ambrosia Rose

      Oh! I almost forgot – WHISKEY!! Seriously, I had a flask of Maker’s Mark in my backpack that I’d filled half as a joke…it turned out to be my favorite traveling companion. After a full day on the road, a few swallows of that after dinner made all the difference in winding down.

      Reply
  2. sometimescarol

    My goodness, you’re brave!

    Suggestions: Music, ear phones & for the love of all that is decent & holy, sedatives for your nerves!!!

    We moved 6.5 hours with a cat once, I cannot imagine 5 days! Seriously though, make sure you have enough sedatives for your cats, they do wear off and you’ll want to be sure that they’re comfortable and not yowling in terror while you’re trying to drive down the highway.

    Can’t wait for the sequel to this post!!

    And congrats on your family being reunited!! ❤️

    Reply
    1. Niki Post author

      Some incredibly naive part of me is hoping there won’t be any details to sequel. That it’ll be a smooth, semi-quiet, uneventful ride. Boring, even. No new tale to tell.
      It could happen.
      I’m so screwed.

      Reply
    1. Niki Post author

      Ya’ know, I’m gonna go ahead and pass on constructing a Kitty Thunderdome. But thanks.
      (Instead of hand warmers, though, maybe I’ll stop every so often and chuck ice cubes at them. And tell them Uncle Mike says hello!)

      Race you to NOVA! Ready, set…………

      Reply

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