Monday, April 12, 2010

Traveling with Cats

Have you ever traveled with a cat? There's a funny song on Garrison Keillor's "Songs of the Cat" album about traveling with cats that pretty much sums it up. My experience was in moving to Atlanta in early 1994, a six-hour drive with my two cats in carriers atop stacks of my stuff in the back seat of my car. I figured they were high enough to see out the windows, which would entertain them along the journey. That was my first mistake.

My girl kitty was actually quite good about the whole thing; she felt secure in her carrier and seemed to enjoy the view. My boy cat, however, was another story. He had never liked riding in the car, and we were barely out of town before he pooped in his carrier and forced me to make a quick stop next to someone's dumpster to empty the offending material from the car. That done, I opened the sunroof to let in some cold, clean air for the next few miles so we could all breathe.

But the ol' boy wasn't through letting me know he was unhappy. He proceeded to meow...and we're not talking a nice little mewing sound like happy cats make, this was a full-volume RAAAAY-ER...RAAAAY-ER...RAAAAY-ER...constantly. Now, remember, this was a SIX-hour drive. I figured he'd eventually settle in and stop it. Next big mistake.

Then I thought, "Well, maybe if I let him out of his carrier he'll find a place where he's more comfortable and stop yowling." Another big mistake. He sat in the rear window and yowled. He got on the floor of the the car and yowled. He climbed over every bit of stuff I had crammed in that car and yowled. I turned the volume of the music louder, and he out-yowled the radio. It was a noise I'd heard at home, briefly, when he wanted to go outside. But he'd always gotten tired of it and given up after a few minutes. Not this time.

The moving experience did give me an answer to the question a visitor would later have upon hearing him launch into that noise, "Wow, how long can he keep that up?" "Five hours and fifteen minutes," I answered with confidence. Yes, for the last 45 minutes of that drive, he collapsed into my lap and fell asleep, exhausted, his head resting in the crook of my right arm that was holding the steering wheel. I remember thinking, "Please, God, don't let me reach a turn in the road that will require me to move my arm and wake up this cat!" For the next move, I went to the vet and got him some "kitty happy pills" that knocked him out. (It was either going to be him or me, and he couldn't drive, so...) He tried to yowl, but just didn't have the energy to keep it up, or reach the same volume, as during the first move, and finally fell asleep for most of the drive. It was blissful. And my girl kitty was happy about it, too.

Fortunately, today there are many more options for making your cat comfortable when traveling. You'll find many quality cat travel products at, from rolling cat carriers, crates, and backpacks of all shapes and sizes to travel beds and natural calming wipes that can soothe your savage beast. There are even cat strollers and a bike basket cat carrier so you can take kitty along with you on your daily jog or bike ride. After all, you can interpret that "RAAAAY-ER" as a personal trainer encouraging you to keep going, right?

No comments:

Post a Comment