Saturday, February 7, 2015

Cats on a Plane

My darling cat Genevieve has been gone for two months now. I miss her, but I think it's safe to say that I have fully grieved and can now remember her as the amazingly awesome cat that she was.

Seriously, you have no idea how much I loved this cat. Which is why I have to share this story with you. A segment I like to call

Cats on a Plane.

Before I go any further though, let me just say that something happens to young people. Usually the 25 and under crowd. It's what makes you say "God bless her" or "kids these days" and it is called making questionable decisions.

Ken is part of this story, but we were still early on enough in our relationship for him to fear telling me "no"... so I will take full responsibility for Cats on a Plane.

Living in New York City was the most exciting time of my life. The only family Ken and I had there in our tiny living quarters were two kittens that we had adopted from North Shore Animal League: Genevieve and Nessie.

Baby Kitties, 8 Weeks Old
When it came time to go home (to Michigan) for Christmas, most of our friends had plans of their own, and at the time I apparently did not know about Animal Spas and Boarding. The only logical thing to do was bring them with us. Obviously.

Now I don't know what the rules are like now, but in late 2007 you could bring a cat with you as a carry-on item as long as you followed two simple conditions: the cat weighed less than 15 pounds and remained in it's carrier bag. Check. Check. I could handle this. 

Oh yea, and as long as they had their own "ticket." 

It was only $45. 
Per cat. 
Each way. 

Okay... so we spent $180 to bring two cats on a plane home for Christmas. Have you ever seen cats on a plane? Probably not. Probably because normal people don't do that. This is part of the whole making questionable decisions thing. Thank goodness Ken turned out to be as great of a guy as he is, because I was clearly not the most rational person in the world back then. 

As a side note: A child's ticket for a day at Disney World is $49. Somehow this seems steep to me, when prior to my rational thinking years I spent this ridiculous amount of money on my cats. Just sayin'. 

Before our trip there were other rational things I needed to do. It was December. Which in New York and Michigan both means cold and snowy. My cats needed sweaters. 

At PetCo they didn't have any cat sweaters. Do you know why? 

It's probably because cats. do. not. wear. clothes.  

But seriously. This didn't cross my mind. Just as in gender neutral clothes, I assumed the clothes at PetCo were species neutral and decided to buy my cats small dog sweaters for their journey. 

They were quite stylish. I wish I had a photo to share with you all of Genevieve in her little pink polka dots and Nessie in her black and white argyle. As a rational thinking adult I can only wish I was kidding. I know this now. 

But in December of 2007 I put my cats in their stylish cat sweaters and headed off to LGA for my flight. 

At check in we took our cats out of their carriers (which went through the xray machine) and proceeded to walk through. 

Hold up. 

The security agent was a very non-amused woman, who looked at me and said, "Ma'am, please take the sweater off of that cat."

Um. Ok. Sure. No problem. 

Now I am holding up the line at one of the busiest airports in the country because I am trying to take the sweater off of a cat who is already freaking out and trying to get away from me. 

We didn't have hashtags back then, but this deserves one I think. #WINNING

Somehow I didn't let this get to me. Or think it was that weird for that matter. Love can seriously blind a person. Which I'm guessing is how all this happened and Ken is still with me.

Most people in the airport thought we were awesome. Children, mostly, I guess. "Look at the cute little kitties!"  "Aww they have kitties!"

But you know what happens when you get on a plane with two carry-on cats?

Somehow, not everyone is super appreciative. The following actually happened:

Woman: Those people have cats with them.
Flight Attendant: Yes. Yes they do.
Woman: They need to get off this plane. I am allergic to cats.
Flight Attendant: I am sorry to hear that ma'am. They have paid for their cats to be on this plane.
Woman: No seriously. I am deathly allergic to cats. They need to get off this plane.
Flight Attendant: Ma'am, just like you these cats have tickets to be on this plane. If you are allergic then you need to get off of this plane.

(It turns out that she wasn't that allergic after all, and decided to be quiet at this point. I never heard one sneeze or sniffle out of her.)

All was going swimmingly until we got into the air. Do you know what cats do at 20,000 feet?

Please stop reading right now and head over to YouTube to search for "whale sounds."

At 20,000 feet, cats croon a sad, sad lullaby. They moan deeply from the belly, in a sound that is like "aaaahhhhh---oooooooooh---waaaaahhhhh." It can only be described as whale sounds.

Somehow, most of the people around us did not know that we had cats with us. So when the cats started crooning, there was a lot of,"What is that strange noise?" I think it was at this point that we realized that maaaaaybe cats on a plane was not the most normal thing in the world.

We obviously had no choice but to pretend that we also had no idea where the weird whale calls were coming from.

And somehow we all made it. Not only to Michigan but back home to New York. It was however, the end of an era. The cats never were to fly again. (And honestly, I'm a little surprised that we don't have some sort of red flags associated with our IDs when we're going through security.)

This is just one of the memories I have of my dear little Genevieve. And what a freaking awesome way to remember her. How many cats can say they have had adventures like this? Not many, I'm sure.

And the next time so see someone young and naive, cut them some slack. We've all been there. Cheers!



* I feel comfortable saying that there were several factors that lead to this lapse in judgment on my behalf. Being young and in love is the first and obvious, but the rest can be attributed to living in the West Village of Manhattan, where many strange things were witnessed on a regular basis.**

**For example, a man walking around with a cat riding on his head atop his baseball hat. I saw this SEVERAL times. A man wearing leather underpants and being walked on a leash by another man. Children on leashes and dogs in strollers.


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