By Nikki Jamieson
After a week of afternoon tea and rest and relaxation in (not-so) sunny Calgary, I am recharged and ready for work — although granted, it was hard to wake up early again.
But my cat? Not so much. It took a crowbar to detach her from my side as I left to go to work earlier this week.
Because, part I love my cat, part I’m scared she will claw through the couch trying to retrieve a lost toy if I leave her alone for the weekend, every time I head up to Calgary to visit family, I bring Cat along with me. The night before I pack what we need for the trip, and after work the day we leave I put her in her travel case and off we go.
Sounds easy, no? The truth is, in fact, the compete opposite. Ever try to get your pet a pill without smothering it in tasty treats? It’s like that. To those who don’t know what I’m talking about, I envy you in a small way.
The average pet person knows just how hard it is to travel with animals. Whether it is your dog barfing as you drive to a favourite trail, to coaxing a bird out of it’s carrier case to get it’s wings clipped, to paying an extra $500 or more if you have to fly with a dog, it is not something taken lightly.
Sure, there may be four-legged friends out there who are just perfect angels in the car, but as I have yet to meet one, they might as well not exist.
When I was 12, my family was moving to Nova Scotia, and decided to do the drive up to the Maritimes in the family van, with the dog up front and the two cats in the rear. Because one of the cats was nothing short of a terror (although we loved him anyway) my parents got some recommended pills from the vet, to help calm the two felines during the move. Que 24 hours of non-stop yowling, as the cats did not appreciate being in a dog crate the slightist bit. To make matters worse, they started drooling at some point, appearing as if they had rabies.
When I was in university, my dad took my cat up to live with him in Fort McMurray.
While we never did receive that letter from the airline saying that the cat was banned from travelling with them, my dad was ever so hesitant about travelling with said cat again, a story which I never could pry from him.
A couple of years ago, I was driving back to Calgary from Texas with my mom and her (then) two dogs, one of which did not do so well in cars. No yowling thankfully, but she drooled the entire time she was in the car. She was perfectly fine out of the car, but the waterfall started up the minute she was back in the car.
These are just a few of the stories my family has about the horrors of travelling with pets. My little Cat is no exception to the rule, although surprisingly, she is better one way on the trip then the other — probably because she is saying, ‘Take me back! I had two whole staircases I could run down there!’
In the grand scheme of things, she is one of the better furry companions that I have travelled with. But she cries (the only time when she held one longer was the first time she saw the dogs playing in my parent’s backyard, then she held out a Meow that lasted for 12 seconds before she began head-butting the patio screen door), claws at her padded bedding and tries to break open the zipper. I swear she is in a good travel case, she can see through it, it has soft sides and the bedding is nice and fuzzy for her, just the way she likes it.
But, it takes nothing short of the element of surprise and a couple of cat treats to get her in it. Que the meows, first angry and indignant, then plaintive, sounding suspiciously like ‘Out’. Once she settles, she is fine for the trip. Then you drive over a bump, and it starts up again.
I suppose I should be thankful that Cat doesn’t get car sick or actually eats her way through the carrier. But crying cats are no joke; as they don’t meow in their regular communication to other cats, them going ‘meow’, is actually their version of shouting. Keeping it up long enough is enough to make me check in on her, only to see that she is her same — albeit slightly disgruntled — self in a cat carrier, just wanting to get out.
Whether it is for a weekend or a week, the ride back to Taber is especially stressful for Cat — the entire staircase, best bud, new litterbox thing she has going in Calgary must really be hard for her to let go of — but once we get back to Taber, the next day she just follows me around the apartment and is especially cuddly and sweet. Which is cute, don’t get me wrong. But after an hour it’s like, ‘Yes, I love you too, but I need to go to work now so I can pay for cat food and clean kitty litter’.
Hopefully with age she’ll mellow out during car rides. But under no circumstances do I want to go on a plane with Cat any time soon — I’ll be the one whose cat does not shut up!