How to smuggle a cat across country
I know I'm crazy, but I felt like I was being called to drive to San
Diego from San Antonio, instead of flying. I wanted to put my car on
the road and take any last minute things. One problem, what to do
with my cat?
I prepared him for the trip by training him to walk on a leash with a
Well, almost. I put the harness on him, and attached a leash and let
him run around like that for a few days.
First, he laid down flat and wouldn't move at all while the thing was
attached. Then he houdinied it and escaped. Probably buried the
thing in the Texas outback.
I started again and bought a better, escape proof one.
After about the fourth day, I tried to actually lead Kitty with the
He promptly walked on only his front paws and dragged his hind parts
behind him, all the time sporting a kitty smirk.
Finally, time to go.
I scooped up the unsuspecting Tik-Tak (backwards Kit-Kat), and
attempted to stuff him inside. He spread his paws like a cartoon
cat, first one way, then another to avoid going inside, so I was
forced to fold his little legs under him and push. Hard.
I wanted him to be happy, so I gave him a catnip filled mouse toy or
two and some treats, which he promptly refused, and started meowing
profusely. This was at 6AM last Friday.
On any given road trip, there's always more last minute stuff than
you think, so Kitty was seated in the backseat between my two kids,
underneath a small duffle and a crown of my youngest daughter's doll,
named, you guessed it, Baby.
Tik Tak meowed.
Cussed at me in cat (I'm fluent.)
And finally asked me over and over, "Why?".
It really did sound like that.
Somewhere on I-10, we stopped and I thought that maybe, the cat might
have to use the cat facilities.
I found some dirt, pulled over blocking the view of the Texas State
Trooper. (I was in Texas for years, it seemed).
I opened the door to the kitty kennel, grabbed the leash, opened the
car door and....
Kitty refused to come out.
He just looked at me with his "You gotta be kidding" cat face.
It was 113 degrees in the shade. But there was no shade.
I got him out of the box and he took shelter under the car. I tugged
on his leash to get him out, picked him up and dropped him in the dirt.
The damn cat growled at me.
Translation, "What about me makes you think I could use the
facilities under these conditions?"
I sighed, put the box on the ground, and this time, he gladly
scurried back inside. I repositioned the stuff in the car, and we
We stopped the first night in El Paso. I searched the internet for
pet friendly hotels, and booked a room.
I quickly discovered that they usually mean dogs only, so I had to
think on my feet.
W covered the cat with my kid's blankie, I distracted the clerk and
we got her into the room.
I'd brought along a travel kitty litter box, which I prepared in the
room. He ran under the bed and refused to go.
We changed the litter, put out some food, and coaxed Kitty out of
She made us pay first, but finally came out.
He kept meowing, so we turned on the TV to mute the sound. He
stopped. The damn cat wanted to watch the Disney Channel, so I left
it on all night.
By this time, I understood. I didn't own this cat. We were his staff.
I don't think he used the bathroom that first night.
We did this two more nights. The cat continued to meow and yell and cuss the entire way while I enjoyed the road. We discovered that there is a great nothingness between the two cities. There are times where my phone picked up a Mexican cell tower as we drove, Mexico on one side, and the US on the other. And I had no idea the Gobi desert was in the United States. When we rolled across the Arizona/California border, miles of white, drifting sand flowed around us in the heat. No need for a fence here. If anyone made it across those sands, they deserved to be here as much as the next guy. There were signs that said we should turn off our air conditioner to avoid overheating. Now that's dumb, and the cat agreed. Either way, we'd just be hot. I kept my windows rolled up and the air conditioner blowing, all the way down I-5. The only time I opened the window as when we were stopped by the border patrol. Three times.
Finally after three days of driving, we arrived in San Diego.
One again, I found a pet friendly hotel on the internet.
I was happy. We'd arrived.
And then we kept driving toward a place called 'Dog Beach". Things
got seedier and seedier. By the time we pulled up into the parking
lot, I was hoping that they didn't take cats.
It was a true "motel", where you drive into the parking lot, and park
face-in, in front of grey, industrial looking metal doors. Everyone
had long, messy hair. I'm talking humans, not dogs. It had one
saving grace, a pool. But the water was murky and it was dead smack
in the center of the parking lot. I couldn't help but wonder if they
let animals swim in there too. No thanks. The place looked like a
grade D pay by the hour motel.
This time, I was with the cat. I refused to get out of the car, and
sent my husband inside to check it out. I didn't care how road weary
At this point, my car was a better option, and I gotta tell you,
that's bad. After three days of driving, it was filled with kids
crumbs and shoes and they was barely any room to move.
I sat in the car and held my breath like a two year old, and the cat-
gods were with me. No cats allowed.
We went to a Marriott Residence Inn, and that made me, the kids and
the cat happy. He even had his own TV so he could watch the Disney
Channel all by himself.