My daughter said it was surreal, having both her Dad and I sitting across from her and her boyfriend at a table in a local restaurant, sharing a meal in St. Paul, Minnesota. It certainly felt that way to us too, having made a rather impromptu two day trip driving across the country to help her move, and to bring her three cats home with us to central Texas. We finished our meal and made plans for the next day – where to meet up and arrangements for pickup of the U-Haul for moving – and then headed to our hotel for a good night’s sleep. We would need it.
Now I don’t know about you, but my husband and I aren’t big on moving, although we have certainly helped our daughter move a number of times. Year after year, one apartment to another. When she moved away from Texas to Minnesota a couple of years ago she went alone, and we thought our apartment moving days were over! And this move would not be easy. Third floor, wet slippery slushy snow, and high temps in the 20’s. We were fortunate that, although bitterly cold by our standards, it was a gorgeous sunny day. We were even crazy enough to delight in the fact that we were getting to experience a little bit of “real” winter! That nostalgia had worn off by the end of moving day, though, as our weary bodies were ready for a hot shower and a clean bed. And we were still mentally preparing ourselves for the long two day ride home, with three cats in tow.
As we awoke to Day 4 of our cross country adventure, the weather had changed. It was even colder outside, and the sun was gone now. It looked like a winter day, with gray and overcast skies. Snow was expected with a front that was coming in later in the day, and we really wanted to head out as early as possible and get ahead of any potentially bad driving conditions. We had 600 miles to go to make it to Wichita, Kansas before this day was over. Our daughter picked up her cats from the boarding kennel, and we quickly moved them – each in their own soft crate – from her vehicle to ours. It was very cold outside and the goodbyes were quick.
I have so often wished that I could talk to pets and that they would understand what I am saying. It is so hard when you can only reassure them with a gentle voice and hands, but can’t really explain to them what is happening. Such was the case now, with three plaintive meowing voices coming from the crates. Poor, scared things. After we got through downtown Minneapolis I relented and unzipped the crate tops and front panels, and let the roaming begin. All chose to explore at least briefly. The two older cats, Caska and Mr. Moo, climbed back into their crates in short order, while the youngest cat Binx continued his loud meowing as he explored my vehicle from the very back to the very front. He looked out windows, climbed over our shoulders, slinked onto the floorboards (including the driver’s side). Eventually he settled on my passenger side floorboard. I had a pillow in my lap and think he felt a little more secure in the temporary darkness.
I had come prepared for this ride home. We had a big litter box in the very back of my Honda Element, which fortunately does NOT have carpet in it. We had fastened the back seats up, to leave as much room as possible for luggage and kitties. I had brought along small plastic bags, spray cleaner, and paper towels, all of which would prove useful on the trip home. I kept one pet bowl for water, and lightly filled it after some of our own gas/food stops (while the car was not running) so the cats could drink and not get dehydrated. And all three did take advantage of this. I made the decision to hold off on food throughout the duration of the day, instead giving the cats food at the overnight hotel.
My biggest fear, the cats potentially escaping from the vehicle, proved to be unfounded. Unlike dogs, who would be more excited and tend to bolt for the door once open, the cats seemed to want to “hide” in their crates. My husband and I would take turns on exiting and entering the vehicle, all the time keeping a very watchful eye on the cats. All in all, the ride on Day 4 went amazingly well. No pets sick, and all fairly settled.
When we arrived at our overnight destination, we placed their litter box, food and water bowls in the bathroom, and turned the kitties loose for the night. And cats being the nocturnal creatures they are, you know they stretched their legs and moved about all night. Once at around 2:00am my husband and I both sat straight up in bed because they had loudly knocked over something in the room. And Binx climbed all over both of us in bed, and purred loudly under the covers.
Day 5 was pretty much the same as Day 4. The ride was becoming more routine now, and we were just anxious to get home. Finally, after more gas stops than seemed imaginable, our round-trip 2400 mile journey was over! The days ahead will now be filled with helping all of our pet household (which suddenly numbers eight) to make the day-to-day adjustments.
Have you ever traveled with cats? Ever made a cross country road trip with your kitties? How did that work for you? I’d love to know!