Home > Family, Pets, Pre-aliya > The Cat

The Cat

Hanging out at the tub

We have a cat.  She’s about three and a half years old and she is going to make the trip with us. The cat is completely black (except for a tiny white spot on the face among the whiskers.)  She is a “rescued cat” — she was born somewhere on the streets and spent her first 6 months living behind a grocery store.

She was trapped by a rescue organization, cleaned up, spayed, and then she spent a couple of months living with the rescuer. Finally, after becoming acclimated to living with humans, she was placed in a cage at a local PetCo for adoption and that’s where we found her. My kids had been whining about getting a dog or cat and I had been stalling for years. I finally went to the PetCo under the pretense that we would look and see if there were any acceptable pets.  My plan was to not find any, but she was just a little too cute.

Windows are okay, open doors are not!

The name tag at the store called her “Licorice.” No one liked that name — I feel you should never use a name that you can’t spell without a dictionary. I wanted to call her “Kelev”, but my wife and kids hated that idea.  They insisted that you can’t call a cat “Kelev” because it is a cat! (“Kelev” means “dog” in Hebrew.) They would say this to me, in a kid-friendly way, like I was a moron — “Dad, it’s a cat!”

They wanted to call the cat “Tabby,” so I tried the same strategy. I insisted that you can’t call a black cat Tabby because it is a black cat. The response: “Tabby” is short for “Tabitha.” Admittedly, that was quick thinking and it’s hard to argue with it. I made a feeble attempt, something like, “Oh yah, well I don’t think she looks like a ‘Tabitha’.” I am such a fountain of quick thinking wit. As a result, she is now typically called “Tabby Cat.”

She is strictly an indoor cat. That’s not my choice; she is terrified of going outside. That seems odd since she lived on the streets, but none-the-less, she is terrified of the outdoors. Looking out windows: that’s okay. How about an open, screened doorway? That’s also okay. Open the screen door and the cat runs and hides somewhere inside the house.

Fortunately, we took her on car trips when she was younger, so she doesn’t freak out in cars. However, besides the outdoors, there is one other thing that terrifies her: people. Especially men. Especially lots of men.  It is not clear to me how we are going to get her to Israel.  The route will be something like this:

  • Long car rides are cool

    Thirty minutes by car from Columbia, Maryland to Baltimore

  • Five hour chartered bus trip with four other excited families from Baltimore to Kennedy International Airport in New York
  • Three hour pre-flight experience in a very loud and crowded airport
  • Twelve hour flight on a filled-to-capacity Boeing airplane containing 500 loud and cramped passengers
  • Two hour post-flight experience at a busy Ben Gurion International
  • Thirty minute trip to Ra’anana

That looks like 23 or 24 hours door-to-door and the cat is terrified of two things: the outdoors and people. The entire trip will be either outdoors or surrounded by large numbers of men or both.  I’m half-hoping that the cat will be to terrified to meow.

The harness

We’ve been trying to figure out how best to prepare the cat. I bought a cat harness at a local grocery store and I make her wear it at odd times. We also bought a leash that can be attached to the harness. I figure those will be easier to grab during a freak-out moment. Finally, we bought an airline approved pet carrier.

We have also been taking her to lots of different places; changing her surroundings and having her meet lots of new people.  This has been met with resistance and partial success.

The cat will either be in the pressurized pet cargo hold or in the passenger area (with all the loud people and screaming kids.)  The plan is to keep her with us (if we can.) If she stays with us in the passenger area, the pet carrier must be small enough that it can be placed under the seat. Big cat — small carrier — 23 hours — Tabby is going to just love that.

Always fun meeting new people

Once we arrive in Israel, we need to have her “papers” in order to get her imported. She needs a documented rabies vaccination and verified test results. She needs to be examined and verified to be in good health.  All of this must be documented and certified in triplicate.  This information must be faxed to the quarantine station two days before departure. A similar set of information must also be faxed to the airport two days before departure. Both sets of documents are faxed to the same phone number. Wouldn’t you think it would be adequate to just fax it once and have them make a copy?

Finally, there’s the chip.  The cat must have a subcutaneous electronic chip that transmits on a frequency of 134.2 kHz and can be read by a chip reader conforming to ISO standard 11784. Great. We had our cat “chipped” six months ago, but the chip transmits on a frequency of 125 kHz. Looks like Tabby needs yet another visit to the vet to get yet another chip implant.

That’s the background on the cat and that’s the plan for the cat.  What could possibly go wrong with a well thought-out, bullet-proof plan like this?

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  1. LJC
    2010-07-31 at 2:39 am

    POOR KITTY!!! Mine also ended up double-chipped, except I really did have the “international” one… but someone who apparently liked to torture animals changed the standards … so they also have two… funny, both were actually read by the hand reader!!! Give Tabby my best…

  2. Barbara Carter
    2010-08-05 at 2:33 am

    My totally black cat made aliyah when she was 14 years old. This worked for one reason only: She wanted to be where her imma was and had no problem flying half way around the world to do that!! She, too, loved looking out the window but living in doors! Good luck to all…Israel is a way better place to live than Baltimore or anywhere that is not Israel!!

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