Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

The Quick Vacation

I thought it was a good idea.  Even though we had a gazillion things to get done and not a lot of time left, I agreed to visit my sister-in-law and family at their North Carolina Outer Banks beach house.  I thought it was a good idea and I’m glad that we did it.  The trip forced us away from all the issues and gave us some time to just enjoy a few days.

  • Sunday: 6 hours of driving and a late hour at the beach
  • Monday: Beach, beach, and more beach
  • Tuesday: 5 hours round-trip driving to Busch Gardens
  • Wednesday: Beach + incredible thunder and lightning show
  • Thursday: 6 hour drive back to Maryland

We had a great time at the beach and Busch Gardens was a lot of fun, although it was too hot and the driving was a bit too much.

In part, I thought this trip would be good for the Tabby Cat. I really want her to get used to traveling long distances in the carrier bag.  Also, I thought it might be helpful if she has experiences showing up in new places with new people.  The cat plan went perfectly at the beginning of the trip.  I stuffed the cat in the bag and we drove to North Carolina without any real issues.  I was very pleased with myself at how well I trained her.

I was so pleased, I even documented traveling with the cat on the trip back to Maryland.

First, you need to find the cat. This is not always easy to do.  Cats know when something weirder than normal is happening.  When all our stuff is packed and stacked by the door, she knows it’s time to hide.  Luckily, she always hides in the same basic place: under the bed.

If I stay very still, maybe you won't see me

Next, I pulled the cat out from the hiding place and attached the harness.  Tabby Cat is very sleek and hard to hold.  The harness, on the other hand, is easy to hold.  This harness was the smartest cat travel thing I ever bought.  And, as an added bonus, the cat is now resigned to wearing it.  She used to go through all sorts of antics in a crazy attempt to get the harness off.  Now, she just deals with it.

The harness is now easy to wear

Once the harness was in place, I grabbed the bag and stuck the cat into it. Then, I pulled the bag out, ignoring the hissing and flailing razor-sharp claws, and jammed the fur-ball with teeth in the bag.  I have tried different strategies: head-first and upside-down seemed like they should work best, but cats seem to have claws in unexpected places.  So, I have found that the best strategy is to do it in two steps. First, get the cat seated in the bag and then push her head down while zipping the bag closed.  Pretty simple.

Sit, stay, no..., STAY!,... down...

Once the cat was in the bag, I was pretty much home free.  The cat might make a lot of noise and look really angry or irritated, but there is not really anything she can do about it (or to you) once she’s in the bag.

Two annoyed eyes peeking through the screen

The next few stages were not photo documented because the events happened too quickly. The cat (in the bag) was carried to the car and partially buckled into a seat belt.  Then, my son says something like, “What’s that smell and why is the seat belt wet.”  At that point, I realized that there is something the cat can do while in the bag.  The bag was yanked out of the car, placed on the driveway, and carefully opened for inspection.

I was even more thankful that the cat had a harness since she was covered in urine.  So, we raced the cat into the wash room (in the basement of the house) and tried to clean her with paper towels. This didn’t really work at all. Finally, we decided the cat needed to get a bath. It was her first bath. Purrfect. Warm water was turned on in the wash basin; the sound of water, naturally, caused the cat some distress — especially when I started moving her toward it.  Again, the harness was a very good thing.

I managed to jam the cat into the basin.  At that point, I realized that sticking the cat into the bag wasn’t really that difficult — holding a cat in a basin of water, on the other hand, truly is difficult.  There was only room for one person at this wash basin, so I was holding the wet bundle of teeth and claws with one hand while rinsing various body parts with the other hand.  This activity progressed without any real incident until Tabby managed to get a claw in the shoulder area of my shirt.  At that point, she turned into a world-champion mountain climber working her way out of the tub by way of my shirt.  That pretty much ended the bath.

Next stage: I was given a dry towel and wrapped it around the cat, paying special attention to covering up all the areas with claws.  Only after the cat was covered did I dare to dry the cat with the towel.

Finally, after this additional 30 minute delay, we really needed to leave.  The cat carrier had been cleaned, but it was still somewhat wet. I didn’t have the heart to put her back in the bag again, so the cat was able to ride home without the carrier.

The best way to travel - purrfect

I really hope we haven’t taught Tabby a strategy for traveling without the cat carrier, because the next trip is the one that really counts.

Categories: Family, Pets, Pre-aliya Tags:

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?

Categories: Family, Pets, Pre-aliya Tags:
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