Saturday, November 5, 2011

Moving to California

 Take what you like and leave the rest.

I moved from northern Indiana to southern California for a job and I had with me my entire family with me.  My entire family, at that point, consisted of 5 cats, a reasonable albeit largish number.  But when you are driving across country, that number starts to feel unmanageable.
I was fortunate, I had a dear friend who was willing to do most of the driving.  And, the cats did not serenade us – much to my surprise.  I had fully anticipated a 2000 mile song of unhappiness.  But the cats settled down in their moving cages and only when we stopped did I hear a questioning sound from the back. 

We knew that we would have to stop at least twice to spend a night in a motel.  But, what to do with the cats when we stopped?   Leaving them in the vehicle did not seem realistic, nor fair.  So the first night we took all the cages into the rooms with us.  Then we set up a litter box and let the cats out to stretch their legs.
Now, this sounds like a reasonable idea, but you have to remember that 2 of the cats were nearly feral and none of them wanted to be put back into the cages for another’s day of driving.  In fact, a couple of them had been downright difficult about being shoved into the cages in the first place.  And a mere two grown women are no real match for a 12 pound determined cat.  (I was also worried that the cats would mess in the room, not in their litter boxes.  Fortunately, they were reasonable on that score.  They preferred the litter to the carpet.)
So, when the dawn came, we showered and dressed, then began the task of rounding up the cats.  As unfair as it was, we took the easy ones first (remember, when you are talking about putting cats in cages, “easy” is a relative term).  We rested after we applied the disinfectants to our arms and hands, then we tried getting the difficult ones.  First, we had to find them.  This sounds like an easy task.  After all, how many places can a cat hide in a small, enclosed room? 
You would be surprised.

My friend and I swore that neither one of us had opened the door during the night, yet we were short two cats.  We simply could not figure out how they escaped.  They were not under the beds, nor in any of the drawers, nor hiding in the bathroom.  We were pretty sure we had not, by mistake, packed them. 
By this time, we were getting fairly hungry and wanted breakfast.  But opening the door sounded like a recipe for disaster.   So we were stuck until we could find them.   Sadly, going without breakfast does not improve one’s temper (or at least not mine).  Names were used, names that are not repeatable in polite society.  The cats ignored us and continued to be invisible.

We gave up and were extremely careful as we left to get something to eat.  We theorized on how they could have gotten out or where they might be.  Sadly, we came to no firm conclusion.  When we returned to the room, both cats were sitting comfortably on the beds, but were spooked by our return (after all, we were the enemy).  Unfortunately for them, this time we could see them and where they went.
This time, they did not use the really good hiding places (they saved those in case they would have to use them again).  One went under a bed and it only took tearing the mattress and box springs off the frame to terrify the cat enough to grab it.  The other cat foolishly ran into the bathroom where we could corner it.  We shut the door until we could get to him.

You might think this was the end of things, but no, the struggle had just begun.  Cats, you see, have claws.  Four full sets of them.  Plus teeth.  And if they do not want to enter a 10 inch door to a cage, it is very difficult to stuff them in against their will.  Throwing a towel over the cat and quickly wrapping it up so it has no access to its claws, well that is easier said than done.
Also, trapping a cat in a small bathroom is not all that easy.  There is enough room for a cat behind the commode, but not so much for people.  And it is a very defensible position when you are armed with sharp things at the end of your paws.  In the end, we won, but it was not a pretty sight.

We re-applied the antiseptics & bandages and loaded the cat cages into the vehicle and began our second day of driving, knowing full well that we had at least one more night on the road, with a repeat performance.  It was somewhat disheartening.

I have to share one moment with you.  We were listening my collection of music.  Now, my friends will tell you, I have terrible taste in music.  I listen to new age and old movie themes – and Brian Eno.  No one but me likes them.  Nonetheless, I had the music on loud as we drove over the western plains and up the Rocky Mountains.  Just as we hit the other side of the mountains and began our decent, the whole panorama of the American west lay before us, and the theme music to “The Magnificent Seven” came on. 
It could not have been more perfect.

All in all, moving was a somewhat harrowing experience.  I will spare you the details of the second night and subsequent cage-loading.  Suffice it to say, everyone lived, even thought it was a close call.

But now that we are here, I love it.  Imagine, living in a place where Palm trees grow!

I have no plans to ever move again.  The cats agree with me.


  1. I can understand you quite well about cats, dear. I have four. My house is very small, but if they don't want to be found, you won't find them!!! :)
    Wow, California!! That must be a great place to live. I have been in Los Angeles 4 or 5 times, because my sister has been living there for 7 years. I hope you're having a good time there! A big hug!

  2. Welcome to California. I have no idea where you are, but I hope you are in a warm sunny area and I think you may be(palm trees). CA offers some very varied climates, I am in the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. We have a relatively mild climate and I love it.

  3. I can't imagine trying to move that many cats across country. The palm trees were what attracted me to California some years ago but sadly I ended up in Texas!