Long ago (1988) I moved to Berkeley and started sending a monthly "newsletter" to my Boston friends. When I returned to Boston (1993), I continued the tradition for about five more years (or until I had kids). Looking back, I realize that I was actually blogging. Each newsletter contained anywhere from a few to several blog posts. Having been silent for the past decade or so, I've decided to resume these activities. Don't expect anything profound -- I tend to focus on what I find entertaining or amusing and perhaps sometimes informative. We shall see!

Friday, February 1, 2019

The Great Cat Migration of 2019

Mission: Transport three physical felines (which shall be multiplexed onto two virtual felines) from Boston to Vancouver.

Who: Yours truly, trusted daughter Teagan, and brave friend/colleague, Gabriella.

When: 0700 January 1, 2019.

Previously: Acquisitions: Three Alaska Airlines compliant cat carriers; two cat harnesses and leashes; one dog harness and leash (the Feline heretofore referred to as Fuzzer is what we call, "large."); cat hormone spray; kitty drugs (gabapentin); wet wipes; three spare carrier pads; ziploc bags.

Phase 1: Lincoln to Logan and Airplane

4:00 am wake-up.
4:20 three cats are contained in three rooms
4:45 I am showered and cats are drugged
4:54 cats are in boxes

The most harrowing part of the experience takes place between 5:00 AM and 6:38 when humans and felines are all on board their plane. The feline referred to as Fuzzer does not enjoy car rides and reacts by soiling his carrier.

Upon airport arrival, Gabriella and Teagan undertake mission Fuzzer-Cleanup while I take on mission, "pay for cats on plane." Alaska Airlines agent is extraordinarily helpful and understanding, even though she must ring up each cat separately and needs each of us to appear with a cat. Timing is such that each human is released from cat cleanup duty at precisely the right moment to process paperwork.

Next stop security. We were mostly prepared. Cats come out of carriers, so we have them harnessed and leashed. However, TSA insists on swiping hands of cat carrying humans while said humans are holding the cats. Cats stay out of the carriers until hand swipes have been declared safe.

Excuse me, but who thought this was a good idea?  Why not allow us to place the cats back in their boxes and then swipe hands rather than asking humans to juggle cats while swiping hands?  Really?

All three humans and cats survive security. Cats are pretty droopy thanks to drugs.

Phase 2: Boston to Seattle

The three of us are scattered about the plane, although Gabriella and I are only a row apart. On my right is a lovely woman who is flying Boston->Seattle->Anchorage->Nome->small town several hours outside of Nome. She is at the beginning of a very very very long day, but is lovely. On my left is one parent of two children sitting across the aisle with other parent (the two parents swap regularly). One child throws biggest airplane tantrum I've ever witnessed for about 30 minutes -- 15 prior to take off 15 after. I am no longer stressed about some meowing escaping from my cat carrier.

Kimi wins the title of star traveler. She was quiet and pleasant the entire flight -- so much so that Gabriella got a good four hours of sleep on the flight.

Sushi came in second. She is a bit unhappy and meows quietly, but is light enough to spend most of the flight on Teagan's lap. The small side window is just the right size to insert hand and pet her.

Fuzzer is not terribly happy.  He meows -- alternating plaintive, "Why are you doing this to me?" meows with periodic accusatory, "I am really unhappy and you are not doing anything about it." meows. I put the carrier on my lap for a couple of hours, but Fuzzer is heavy and eventually I give up. By this time, he is relatively well drugged and more docile.

We arrive in Seattle without further incident.


Phase 3: In SEATAC

We had a comfortable layover, so we sought out the "pet relief area." Good news: in our destination terminal. Bad news: we missed it first time around. I sense a bit of specism.  They couldn't have a litter box too?

In any case, we decide to let the felines out of their boxes, on leash, of course. They were somewhat apprehensive.

Ultimately, all three cats ended up hiding behind the metal sheeting in one enormous pile of felines: sushi on the bottom, Fuzzer and Kimi on top.

Phase 4: SEATAC to Vancouver

Back in the boxes they go ...

This time, Fuzzer and Sushi were allowed to sit next to each other with their humans, but Kimi was relegated elsewhere. Fuzzer was pretty chill, but Sushi did not enjoy being on a plane again. The side of the carriers have a tiny hand-sized opening through which you can pet the cat. Sushi didn't quite understand this -- she thought it was designed for the cat to stick her head out, then a paw, and then a second paw. About this time, Teagan and I got wise to her antics and proceeded to figure out how to shove half a cat back through a very small hole. This was sufficiently challenging that there is no documentary evidence that we succeeded.

 And Finally: Vancouver!

Mission accomplished: Three humans and three felines arrive at YVR, Vancouver airport. We weren't sure what customs would be like ... none of us are very good at reading. When we were asked if were bringing any of the following into the country: Meat/meat products; dairy products; fruits;vegetables; seeds; nuts; plants and animals or their parts/products; cut flowers; soil; wood/woodproducts; birds; insects, we kind of missed the "animals" and focused on the meat, meat products, parts/products and answered no. We were kindly informed that this was wrong. Nonetheless, we would have had to go talk to the nice man at the booth anyway. He looked at the three boxes, the three rabies certificates and welcomed the felines to Canada.

As all of UBC was starting up the next day, the taxi line was LONG. We finally got to the front and the first cab to which we were directed had a driver who pleaded "cat allergy."  The next one was accommodating and we loaded three humans, three backpacks, and three felines into the car. 

And then we were "home."



The felines were clearly a bit spooked by this whole endeavor, choosing to hide in the one familiar place available ... yup, that's fuzzer hunkered down in the litter box.

Fortunately, it didn't take them long to feel at home -- they were happy not to be flying, enjoyed some catfood, and started exploring.

Happily, they seem to have settled in quite quickly.