October 13, 2011

Travels with a 20 year old Tabby

There was a time when I rolled my eyes at the baggage parents brought when they left the house with their infants and toddlers. Diapers, formulas, baby food and burp cloths I get. But to childless me, the rest just seemed excessively insane. Like they were leaving the country for Egypt instead of going three blocks to IHOP.

Then…my precious tabby, Buddy, turned diabetic. He required constant monitoring, multiple meals in case he crashed, and also insulin twice a day, morning and night. We were living in Kentucky on top of a hill without neighbors at the time. We had to travel several times a month due to family illness, and once or twice for a much-needed vacation break. So what to do with Bud? We left him with our veterinarian once, but he came back depressed. So, we started taking Bud with us, no matter where we traveled.

One year in Holland, MI, our Pontiac died. We had to be towed to an auto repair and wait in a nearby restaurant while they performed CPR. What to do with Buddy? We had a small cat carrier on wheels that was much too small for him, but without a choice, we stuffed him into it, rolled him about a mile down the street to a restaurant and then tucked him next to me in the booth while we ate. Our car ended up DOA and we rented a car to finish our vacation and get home.

Another time we had tickets to see guitarist Craig Chaquico in concert in Ohio, and so Buddy was smuggled into the Embassy Suites. We got him settled then went to dinner. When we returned he was sitting in full view in the suite’s picture window overlooking the inside courtyard. I wonder how many people passed our room and did a double take at the fat tabby with huge round eyes? Another time, another hotel, he didn’t like the room, and when we returned from dinner, we found him huddled in a corner facing the wall. Room may have smelled like a dog, I don’t know.

So what does it take to travel with a 20 year old diabetic, arthritic tabby? Remember me rolling my eyes at the baggage parents of toddlers brought with them to IHOP? Here’s my list for Buddy:
Insulin on ice, with needles plus empty water bottle to hold used needles.
Case of Fancy Feast (Chicken) 12-24 cans depending on length of trip, and also Diabetic Maintenance kibble

Bowl for dry and bowl for wet food, plus fork and baggies to hold half-eaten can of wet food
Water bowl inside a larger bowl in case water slops out while in car.

Bottled water since I don’t trust tap water while traveling.
Litter box, pooper scooper and tub of extra litter. Plus a cardboard sheet to go under the litter box in case Buddy’s aim is imperfect. Hey, it happens! Also a zillion plastic grocery bags to dispose of the poop and a big roll of paper toweling for such imperfect aim mishaps.

Let me just say here that I may have the ideal method for driving terrorists out of fox holes: old cat poop. It’s noxious and lethal. It has been known to rip me out of a dead sleep. On our trips up to Michigan in August and September for family weddings, Buddy timed his horrific BMs to coincide with me driving and Ray sleeping. Both times Ray woke up gagging, gasping for air, shoving his head out the window while I raced like Mad Max for the next exit, always at least a mile away. The thing is, Buddy cannot stand his own stink either, and will cry and yowl until the smell is dealt with. I won’t go into grisly details about the imperfectly-aimed BM in September that had me pulling over on the side of the exit ramp somewhere in Tennessee, going through 3/4 of a roll of paper toweling while Ray and Buddy yowled in unison in protest over the stench. Suffice to say it took at least half of the air freshener to obliterate the smell. Leon Panetta. General Dempsey. Call me!
Air freshener, carpet cleaner, rug to put under the litter box in a hotel room
Flashlight or round Tap Lights so Buddy can see in the dark in order to use litter box while in the car.

Nightlight so Buddy can see litter box in the dark in hotel room
His stairs so he can get on and get off the bed

Pet brush, pet wipes
Sticky brush (to remove old cat fur off my clothes)

Buddy’s bed, a green donut with bumper sides. Also his favorite red blanket from Delta airlines. Also a thermal pad that gives off heat from body heat. Also a cushion pad placed under Bud’s green donut bed. He’s 20 and arthritic, so ├╝ber-padding is necessary, especially when traveling on Michigan’s less than stellar highways.
Also a cat carrier, one that actually fits Buddy and can be carried like a shoulder bag.

Suffice to say I am now appropriately humbled. Clearly parents of toddlers do not need to bring sticky brushes to IHOP.

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