Monday, January 4, 2010

The Exodus - Kitties (Act 2)

(Okay, baby and husband are both sleeping. Let's see what I can get done before one of them wakes up...)

I believe I left you all at the airport... Brian and I had gone to pick up my parents the Monday after Christmas and Brian decided it would also be a good idea to check in with the Delta desk about our cats just so we are prepared to any issues (this is why he is so good for me... I would have just rolled the dice and as you will find out soon, that would have been bad).

When we moved to Texas, we purposely flew Continental (even though that meant more than an hour trek to the airport at 5:30 am courtesy of my very accommodating father) since they are the "pet airline." However, this time, since we were flying to Atlanta, we flew Delta (if this is confusing for you, it's okay, just know that Delta IS Atlanta). We spoke to 3 different people at the Delta 1-800 number about the cats and we got 3 similar but different stories. All the stories agreed we could bring Bubba on the plane and put the other 3 underneath. The differences were in when to pay, how the cats fly, etc. So, we thought we would clear that up (or Brian thought... I just went along for the ride).

We spoke with a cranky woman (this took me a while to come up with an appropriate adjective to describe her - she wasn't unpleasant... but she wasn't very nice either). We told her our situation, all the stories we were told and the first thing out of her mouth is that we should have called the airport because each airport does it differently (ru-ro). According to her, for Delta out of Austin, the day of the flight we would check in at "special services", pay for the 3 cats as cargo and for Bubba as under the seat (which doesn't make sense to me because I don't have to pay for my luggage under the seat so why Bubba?). Then, we would walk over to the end of the terminals, by the exit doors, and patiently stand there while the Delta people do a security check on the carriers. Oh, and the cats can't be in the carriers at the time. And both of us had a complete panic attack on this woman (which made her a wee bit crankier).

Here's the thing you dog parents out there... when cats get scared, they choose the flight response 99% of the time. For my cats (all except Bubba who has no fear), scary things are loud unidentifiable noises, other cats in their territory, small children's hands, and mostly strange people and crowds. Hmmm... crowds, strange people, loud noises, pretty much an airport. Add to this saga that the 3 cats going underneath all still have their claws and are not afraid to use them. Brian and I envisioned chaos. I remember once, flying back from Tampa with Brian and a bird had gotten into the terminal. I wondered how long it would take for that bird to get out. In the Austin airport, I was thinking about that bird and replacing it with 3 cats, flying around the airport. And then we were supposed to get on an airplane?

Miss even-crankier-than-before Delta lady's response to our collective meltdown... "those are the rules." Well now, thanks for that little reminder. Since she made me feel like I was in kindergarten, I so wanted to retaliate in a really mature way, like blowing my nose on her sleeve - the little bully. Then she said we could talk to Delta cargo and see if they could do anything differently. She gave us some cryptic directions and that was our interaction.

So my parents arrive and we all start problem solving (all except for me since my pregnancy obliterated my problem solving skills if you remember- although some of it is slowly coming back). I pretty much sat back and had my own little panic attack when I started to think about all the things to do back at home.

We went to cargo (got lost once or twice) and actually ended up at Continental's cargo. Brian, being brilliant, went in and talked to them. He was able to book our 3 cats tickets to Atlanta (via Houston) on Continental. They would leave a few hours before us and arrive in Atlanta earlier but they wouldn't have to leave the carriers and we trusted Continental. Phew - problem solved... and I didn't have to do anything.

So... now we need to get the cats in carriers for the big day. We locked them in the litter room (which took a little bit to get them in there because, if you remember from my previous post, cats are only smart when they need to be and all of them remembered the treats in the litter room trick so we had to be sneaky) on Monday night so that they would be out of the packers way. We kept them in there until Wednesday when we had to pack them all up. After getting Evan ready, Brian and I made it into the litter room to deal with them.

And... apparently the cats had some anger issues that they dealt with by destroying things.

They had opened the closets and ripped apart carpet remnant, litter was everywhere, plastic bags had been shredded... it looked like a massacre. It was no surprise then, that when opened a carrier to put Lucy in - Bella took one look around the room and walked right in to the carrier. Bubba and Lucy knew what was going on and they were trying to get out somehow... but nothing doing. At some point, in the chaos, Socks got out of the room. Brian cornered him in the master bath and we decided to come back to him later. We had all 3 cats almost in carriers when we heard Brian's dad calling us from downstairs.

As far as we can tell, at some point, Socks had had enough and hurtled himself out our bathroom doors. They were the kind that shut with pressure from a button up top (no handle lock) so if you hit them hard enough they will open. I guess he used all 15 lbs, because he was out. According to Brian's dad, Socks was running around downstairs. When he heard Brian's voice, he went running upstairs and we were able to get him in his carrier.

We started to pack the cars. I took a moment to get this fuzzy shot of Bella and Socks. I wish I had a video for you to hear the howling that was happening. They are NOT happy.

While Brian was showing the movers around ('cause of course they showed up during this fiasco) I got a close-up of Socks. See those yellow eyes... be afraid - be very afraid.

Then Brian realized I was taking pictures instead of helping out and he got a little annoyed with me.

We took the 3 clawed-ones to Continental and as we were filling out paperwork the employees were petting our cats through the carriers. Man, I love that airline for the way they treat pets. Even though the 3 cats cost as much as Brian, Evan and I... it was so worth it!

And where was Bubba you ask? With me... being cranky since he couldn't get out and explore EVERYTHING. I also think he was annoyed because usually he is the center of attention, but Evan has taken over that role Although 2 women did say he was cute... because he is.

And now they are all at the apartment waiting for us to come and be with them. We let them all out today to investigate. Of course Bubba has been out already and has smelled the entire place from top to bottom. Bella came out and smelled a 4 ft square area, Lucy followed me around, and Socks would come out, get freaked and run back into the safe zone and then start all over again. They will be okay... and I think 4 is the limit for this traveling family!

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