(Note: This post was written by Laurel Regan and originally published in a separate blog called “Why Windsor…”, which was later merged with Alphabet Salad.)
A huge set of decisions has been looming over our heads ever since we decided to move: that is, how to get me, my husband, our cat Spider (the prime concern), and our car from Victoria to Windsor. This weekend, thanks to the pressure of a limited-time offer (15% off both WestJet and Air Canada flights taken within our window of travel dates), we’ve made some plans that give a bit more structure to our move and force a choice to be made about a worry that’s been on our minds over the past year or so.
In my ideal world, I would have loved for all three of us to drive together, enjoying a bit of a vacation and seeing our country… however, in addition to the fact that I can’t really afford to take that much time off, there’s no way our cat would put up with that. Spider is a darling, but she absolutely can’t stand being in the car, and cries pitifully even during very short rides, so we know that a trip of several days (maybe even a week) would be extremely stressful to all concerned, and quite possibly harmful to Spider. Given that knowledge, we decided early on that Spider would fly with me (and possibly my husband as well) in order to minimize the duration of her stress.
Knowing how Spider and I would make the journey, the next decision was how my husband and the car would get there. In the end, for various reasons, we decided that we’d have the car shipped (which actually turns out to be fairly close to the cost of having him drive it across the country) and that he’d fly with me and Spider.
Then came the most difficult decision of all, one that has been plaguing us for more than a year now – whether Spider should travel with us in the cabin, or on her own in the baggage compartment. Neither option is particularly appealing, to tell you the truth. Spider is 19 years old, and while she is in very good shape and health for her age, she is most definitely an elder kitty, and no matter which option we choose, moving her is going to be rather traumatic to all concerned. So which option will be the safest and least disruptive? Keeping her in the cabin with us would certainly be more comfortable for me, knowing that she’s right there within my reach (even though she’ll have to stay under the seat in front of us), but we’re concerned as to how much noise she might make. And would she even fit? Putting her in the baggage compartment would eliminate the issue of noise, and she would definitely fit, but with at least one layover and change of planes, I’m terrified that she’d get lost in the transfer(s). It’s one thing if our luggage were to end up rerouted to Bermuda, but my darling cat? No, thank you!
In the end, it turned out that our choice was made for us. Though my preference would have been to keep her in the cabin with us… that way we’d know where she was at all times, and she’d be with us during any layovers and plane changes… she’s too big to fit properly under the seat and therefore will have to travel in the baggage compartment.
I tried to manage it so that there would only be one plane change, but found that it couldn’t be done, as the more direct flights use planes that don’t have heated baggage compartments and therefore present the risk of hypothermia to animals. So we’re booked on a flight with two stops – all planes have heated baggage compartments (a Very Good Thing), but unfortunately there will be two plane changes (ack).
We’re going to talk to the vet about how best to get Spider ready for the trip, and whether or not she should be given any kind of medication or natural remedy to relax her, taking her age into consideration. (As an aside, if any of you have traveled on a plane with your cat, I’d welcome your comments and input.)
So it’s been a rather big day with several important and emotional decisions made. While on the one hand I’m relieved to have these details dealt with, the truth is that I am very anxious about the effect the trip will have on Spider. This is probably the least fun and exciting part of our move, and I don’t think I’ll truly rest easily until all three of us are safely in Windsor, healthy and none the worse for wear.