West Coast Grrl

It’s been a week since J and Shadow left our home for the long flights west. And what a week for them both! Thank you all for your wishes and positive thoughts when we needed them the most!

Shadow is my least mentioned kitty – our shy and nervous girl who comes from a harsh past. She’s been with us for almost exactly 9 years now and is still fearful and jumpy. But she’s come so far knowing she is safe and protected. Then last Wednesday we turned her world upside down.

J and Shadow took a rental car to the airport about an hour away, checked in and had to go through a longer special line to get through security. At security, the airplane-approved carrier needs to go through the x-ray and you need to carry your pet through the body scanner. J said that by the time (just about 2 hours) she got to security, she’d already pee’d herself. Poor little thing. It’s fear and her kidney disease.

So J took her to a bathroom and removed the soiled layer and made sure she had a fresh layer.

Then it was the plane. If I am being honest, I was afraid that she might die from fear when she had to go through a 747 take-off. We’d sprayed her carrier with feliway and given her herbal calming drops. J petted her (our carrier has a great hand-access slot to try to reassure your pets) and put the planned blanket over the carrier…making her feel extra safe.

When J landed, he had just an hour to clean up her carrier (more pee… as expected… it’s a 5hr flight) before catching a noisy smaller plane for the jump to our new hometown. J said he didn’t know what to do until he saw the ‘family’ bathroom. It’s a private room with a locked door (so no escape), change table to put the carrier on, and is calm and quiet. All these years paying the same price as those who got to use this bathroom  eventually paid off! J was able to change the liner pads and comfort our girl and give her drops for the next stage of the trip.

When he got to our new hometown nearly 10 hours after he left our house, he had everything for her already in the car (planned well in advance) and drove her to the AirBnB where they were to stay for 3 nights. Not a fancy place, but welcoming and convenient and accepting pets. J was up until early hours of the morning making sure she was okay, fed, watered and knew how to get to her new litter.


West coast grrl on Day 1 in the AirBnB

She was fine the next day (he had to work). He came ‘home’ at lunch and gave her tons of love. Gave her 3 choices of food (I think I’d mentioned that she’d lost lots of weight in the last few months) fresh water etc.

Shadow has thrived in this environment. As I’ve often said: she wants personal attention from humans and is reserved and nervous around other cats. She did really well in the 3 days they lived out of bags at the AirBnB. Ate lots, used the litter perfectly and cuddled in with J for petting and love.

She did call for us in the nights. Knowing some of her ‘pride’ were not there. But she coped well. We decided to keep up with the drops for 4-5 days total.

Just 3 days later, J took possession of our new home. So poor Shadow moved again. Since all our stuff is still here with me until I sell this home, J only has an air mattress, a chair, and a few kitchen things. He moved everything into our master bedroom and put great hiding spots for Shadow in the closet and room. They have lived the week there…

She has been a champion… handled this with more fortitude than I thought she had. With flexibility and healthy adaptation. She’ll explore the big empty house slowly… on her own time… and knowing she has a safe-room to return to. And when our things finally come it will feel and smell like home.


Living like a pampered princess on the air mattress


Leaving on a Jet Plane

The things we do for love! (And here’s some apropos music to read this by)

As you might remember, we’ve decided to move out of our area and we were looking at the logistics of everything. Or was that panicking? There is still some panic going on… but we are about 1/2 way though all this. Everything is taking longer than we thought it would. And … of course… it’s more expensive.

We looked for a house for a long while. We already knew that there were no rentals. I flew out and spent a week shopping for homes – not that there were all that many that suited us. There were no town-homes that could take 3 cats. So if we were desperate, we’d find one of the very few that would take 2, buy it, and we’d lie about the 3rd cat for a year while we looked for a ‘forever home’ – for all of us.

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Our lovely grrl …broken tail and all

Right after I got back home a very nice house came on the market there – and we did have to go into multiple bids to get it but we did. We take possession on Friday. Or I should say that J takes possession. I am still in our town and our home is not yet on the market (and we’re doing some expensive mortgage gymnastics to balance this).

Here’s the plan: J takes possession and then we move the cats out. I try to sell our home and arrange the move. Eventually we get to be a family again with our stuff.

To this effect, J is leaving right now on a plane… with Shadow. For the first time since he began his new job on Mar 1, he was able to come home for a visit. It was 5 days of notary, real estate, and insurance stuff and a few visits with friends.

But the main reason was to take Shadow first. You see, Shadow has been sick recently. She got a bladder infection and was peeing around the house, was lethargic and out of sorts. She already has mild kidney issues…. so with throwing up and peeing, there was no way I could make our home ready for sale. As of 10 days ago, she’s been better (finished a course of antibiotics) and eating and being her normal self.

I was so relieved. So I knew she’d be okay to make this flight. Well, as okay as she’d ever be!

We had lots of discussions and input about how to get her from here to there. There had to be 2 flights… no direct route. A total of about 6.5hrs in the air. Plus security and lobby waiting. It’s an insanely long trip. We decided on Feliway spray for her special air cabin approved soft carrier. And we decided on layered puppy pads inside. And a herbal calming drop she could take before the trip.

We did some research before buying a carrier. It needs to be soft. It needs to fit in front of your feet in the plane (if you are taking your pet as your one piece of hand luggage). There are approved sizes and types and when they check at customs, you have to show that the animal can stand and turn around inside. I called the airlines. Read all their online material. We got her accustomed to the carrier 2 weeks in advance.


It was all fine… until I put in some feliway spray yesterday and she refused to go in again. She began avoiding it. Sigh. Was it the spray … or the new blanket I put in?

I cut up a fleece blanket and layered puppy pad, then fleece, then puppy pad, then fleece… so as one layer got soiled, J could simply dispose of it and there would be a second layer underneath. With her kidneys she’d need to pee for sure. So he put a couple of extra puppy pads in his jacket pocket. (Don’t you love a guy who’s willing to do this??!!)

Then I realized that he could not take the Feliway spray either in the cabin or even in his packed bags. It’s flammable! Says so right on the bottle. Though it’s great for traveling with cats, it’s not okay for airlines. She’s going to need this spray tonight and tomorrow and the next day… but it’s not traveling. J will need to buy another … there. That was a wasted $45.

An hour before he left, he gave her the herbal calming drops. She didn’t like it, but it was the best solution we could think of. We were worried about giving her drugs she hadn’t taken before.

And now… they are gone. Driving the 1hr+ to the nearest airport. Then security. Then airplane lounge. Then a 5.5hr flight. Then the airport lounge. Then a 1hr flight. My girl is leaving on a jet plane. I would be lying to say that I’m okay with all this. I’ll be scared until I know she’s okay. But she is in the best hands… J is better at this than I am.

I miss them both already.

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She hated the harness… but we needed to put one on for taking her out of her carrier for security. The carrier goes through the X-ray, and you carry your pet through.