Cats on a plane

I took my cat with me to Italy for ten days. Don’t judge me, I have my reasons. Anyway, you can carry your little pet in the cabin of the plane here, provided that there is no more than one other animal coming aboard as hand luggage and that the case they are in is sufficiently tiny. Tiny enough to fit under the seat of a Vueling flight, which has notoriously little legroom as compared to a coach seat on a normal size airplane. So kitty hopped unknowingly into her soft case with three mesh windows and I carried her out of my apartment building on a Monday morning and off to the airport.

But first came the metro ride, which in retrospect wasn’t such a smart choice. The metro is so much more bumpy and loud than a human who tunes out with ipod earphones jammed into her ear canals whenever facing public places would notice. Kitty’s stress level was pretty high after her first metro ride that also included a train change and several stair cases, escalators and tunneled walkways. A walk through the heart of the city surrounded by people and cars to catch the airport bus was next, so by the time we got onto the bus, Kitty was not a happy camper.

At the airport, things were quieter and Kitty seemed almost content to hang out in her little bag. We went through ticketing just fine, where no mention of a CAT PASSPORT was made, which evidently is the last of the requirements needed for Fuzzy to fly the friendly skies. But we are in Spain, and the girl at the ticket counter in Barcelona never asked for anything regarding the cat, not even permission to stick her hand into my kitty carrier to scratch Kitty’s head to receive a bite in return.

Going through security was also easy. You have to remove your pet from their carrier and put the carrier through xray while you tote your pet in your arms through the metal detector. Kitty was happy to get back in the bag and was calm boarding the plane. It wasn’t until take off that I heard sounds coming from my cat that I never knew were possible. She was in the carrier at my feet and we were crammed next to the window in a full row so I couldnt see her. All I could see was the bag deforming and thrashing around on its own while Kitty wailed like a human baby. Fortunately, there were no fewer than three screaming children on the plane, so Kitty went (sort of) unnoticed.

Once we landed in Milan and were in the car, she was exhausted and dozed until we got home, only waking to meow pathetically to let us know she wanted out soon. At home, she was happy to eat and play like nothing happened.

Returning to Spain however, was not so pain free. Day of the flight, we drove carefully to the airport and she arrived quite calm. So when the lady at the ticket counter asked for her passport as well as mine (remember the cat passport?), it was ·I· who panicked and thrashed like I was in a flexible little  carrier under an airline seat.

So Yeah. I had to leave my fricken’ cat in Italy. What’s more, the bitch at the ticket counter argued with me about the fact that I brought my cat from Spain on the plane to Italy without a passport in the first place. “Impossible” was her constant reply. That and “no, you didn’t” when I explained that I flew with the cat on her stupid airline 10 days earlier.  It’s not the first time an airline ticketer in Italy has called me a liar and/or treated me like shit, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. That’s Italy for you.

So I went back to Spain and Kitty stayed with GP’s parents for four days until I could arrange a cat passport, which, this being Spain, was ridiculously easy. i just paid the vet and he backed dated and stamped the kitty passport and I was set.

Then I had to spend 250 Euros and an entire Friday flying to Italy, waiting for the cat delivery, and flying back to Spain. I don’t know if it was that Kitty knew what she was in for or if GP’s father’s driving really is that bad, but Kitty arrived at the airport practically traumatized. She had peed in her carrier, which she had never done before, and was crying incessantly. Even her fur was all rumpled like she had been wrestling with another cat. And there were still more than five hours to go before we would be home.

We checked through ticketing with her new passport just fine and made it through security without too much drama (though I do have a few new scratches to show for it). I had a couple of hours of waiting in the airport to do and was able to calm Kitty down before the worst part of the trip came. I was so grateful to have the only row on the entire plane to myself thanks to a noisy, kicking child seated behind my row. The guy assigned next to me opted to move to the row in front of me, even before I arrived with a meowing cat in a bag.

What followed next was the longest flight of my life, despite it lasting only an hour and a half. I don’t know if the pilot was lost or what, but we taxied around that bumpy airfield for about 25 minutes, which was a good setup for the bouncy takeoff and turbulent climb wherein Kitty went bananas. Then, of course, the entire flight was marked with sudden dips and drops as the plane surged through the clouds to its final delayed landing, which called for more bumpy circulating before the pilot finally figured out where he was. Poor kitty peed in her case again at some point during the flight, between her bouts of pitiful mewling and frantic caterwauling.

I have to add that the entire flight I was trying to calm her down by petting and talking to her through her case. There is no question that the guy who moved seats made the right move not sitting next to the crazy cat lady who smelled like pee. If he hadn’t moved before I sat down, I’m sure he would have moved after.

By the time we landed, I had decided not to even deal with the bus and took a taxi straight home for 24 Euros. Taxi guy made me put he case on the floor after I refused to put her in the trunk of the taxi, but thankfully he drove pretty smoothly and there was no traffic so we got home quick.

Once inside the door to my apartment, I put the case on the floor and opened it up. I was ready for a drink and a nap and wondered if Kitty was going to be stressed, disoriented, desperate for her litterbox or what after her ordeal. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when Kitty trotted happily out, went straight to her dish for a snack, then attacked her toy mouse with gusto, tossing it into the air and chasing it where it landed as if nothing had ever happened.

I’m thinking that maybe I won’t skip the bus next time. Or at least I’ll consider putting her in the trunk when I elect to take a taxi home.


Four years and a day…

Whenever the end of April rolls around, I start feeling uneasy and wonder why. Then May hits and I remember and I dread the passing of May 10.

I am a day late here in recognizing that four years ago yesterday we lost John-Mark. I wanted to write yesterday, but I got as far as posting a photo and a note on Facebook before being taken down by a virus that made it hurt to even lay down. He got a lot of love on that FB post, so I don’t feel quite so bad for not getting this up in time. Thank you everyone for recognizing him on FB.

It’s hard to think that another year has passed, technology has developed,and things have happened in the world that JM would have loved to have witnessed. The US killing Osama Bin Laden springs to mind-man that would have made him happy. Or the creation of the iPad, or BMW entering World Superbike with his friend heading the team, or a million other things to do with his friends.

I was going to write some self indulgent things here but I’ll leave them. This here is for you John-Mark. Miss you and your humor, your talent, your towering height, your ultra-stubbornness, your fierce loyalty, your love for animals, your naivety that you hid so well because you were so smart, your curiosity, your love of knowledge, your power of debate, your charm and how comfortable you made the people around you feel.