Have Cat, Will Travel

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December 26th 2011
Published: January 7th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

The Great Journey of Callie, the Cat

Monday, December 26, 2011

The weekend was a whirlwind of festive decorations, presents, and way too much food and alcohol. It was my first Christmas returning to Washington as a visitor and also my first time flying for that holiday. The flight north was uneventful, with the exception of the man next to me, who overflowed his seat. My concern was about the flight back to Las Vegas, because I would not be traveling alone.

The Backstory
When I moved to Las Vegas, my parents graciously accepted the temporary guardianship of my high-maintenance cat until I was settled in my new home, at which point she would join me. Easier said than done. Having never traveled with my own pet before, I was nervous about the whole process. Research on multiple pet travel forums was inconclusive. It seemed people either had an easy time or it was a nightmare. I was just hoping my experience was going to be mild.

The Journey Begins
The car ride to SeaTac was uneventful. Callie complained some, then only let out the occasional chirp to remind everyone she was still there. Even
At the AirportAt the AirportAt the Airport

She was not on speaking terms with me.
though I checked us in online, our print-at-home boarding pass was not valid to pass security. So when we arrived at the airport, we stood in line at the customer service desk so an airline official could verify Cat’s health papers. Besides her obvious roundness, she was in perfect condition to fly.

I decided to spend the extra money and book first class. This meant no waiting in line at security and being the among the first on and off the aircraft. The added bonus was of course extra room for personal comfort, which I now hold in high value.

Fearful Ordeal with TSA
The part I dreaded most was the security checkpoint. Callie needed to come out of the safety of her carrier. My imagination ran wild with images of my cat streaking through the airport. However, Callie was actually disinclined to go anywhere, and upon being removed from her carrier, immediately sank every claw into me. (It took over a week for those scratches to heal.) Our luggage passed through the x-ray device, and I held Callie as we walked through the old style metal detectors. The new body image scanners require people to stand in “search and seizure” positions, which cannot be achieved whilst holding an animal. As soon as we were cleared, the TSA officials brought her carrier over so she could quickly go back into her secure little universe. Callie did not need coaxing; she dove into the carrier and flattened herself against the back, making it clear that she had no intention of leaving her carrier again. I put on my shoes and collected my bag while she sat quietly and gave me the cat equivalent of the middle finger. But the worst part was now over.

Hurry Up and Wait
We had two hours to kill before departure, so I found an empty gate so Cat and I sat away from all the traffic of holiday travelers. Two dirty hippies nearby were talking nonsense about life, the universe, and everything else. I call them dirty hippies because they really were unwashed. Their level of “hippiness” was a also extreme, and that’s saying something coming from a person who enjoys hanging out in downtown Olympia. Callie, ever the snob, was not impressed either.

Boarding the plane was anticlimactic. My theory that Cat would exhaust herself and sleep on the flight
She's not mad...She's not mad...She's not mad...

That's just how her face looks
was proven wrong. She made it clear that she was concerned about her new environment. I left a section of the top zipper undone, and whenever she needed comforting, Callie would press her head against the gap and I would reach down and pet her. The two and a half hours went by quickly enough, with the help of two glasses of wine for me. Cat did not say a single word until we landed, when she let out a surprised, “Meow!” as the plane bounced once on its wheels.

Home, at Last
And finally, with a quick trip from the airport to my apartment, we made it home. In her usual manner, Callie immediately began to investigate her new surroundings, asserting ownership over her new domain. By then she was back on speaking terms with me. Happily, I think we will both forget this dramatic ordeal and settle comfortably into our new home and old routines.

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