Merry Christmas to me and California Guy.
Christmas is already a stressful time, and traveling at Christmas is even worse. California Guy and I had the brilliant idea of taking all of my pets to Casper to stay with him for four days over the holiday. I didn't have anyone available to watch the cats, and it seemed like a perfect plan for all of us to hole up for four days, out in the middle of nowhere.
My cats, I thought, were easy travelers. Tess is the pain in the ass when traveling. I've taken all three cats on short car trips to the vet or from the animal shelter, and everyone is always pretty chill, especially Puckett. I've never had a problem with them.
Of course I've never tried to put them in the car for two hours before, driving away from their home as far away as they've ever been.
So two days before Christmas, California Guy and I packed up in his truck my suitcase, wine, stocking stuffers, gifts, laptop, and all four pets complete with food bowls, dry food, and canned food for the trip to his home. We stuffed Percy and Willow into their carriers, put Puckett on a towel on the bench between us, shoved Tess in the bed of the truck, and hit the road.
Five Crazy Animals:
The animals have been kind of stressed lately anyway, and I throw Surina into the mix because she's usually hyper and a little nuts, particularly when it comes to food or when she's bored but doesn't want to do anything but chew on everything. Percy's been racing through the house, playing with his jingle balls and trying to yank down the bells I strung along my Christmas lights. The morning before we got on the road, he started to attack the gate to my stairs, trying to crawl up and over it. There was a snowstorm forecasted for Christmas Day, but I really should have known better than to try to take three cats in an unfamiliar truck for a two hour trip.
As we drove towards the highway, Percy immediately began to wail. He usually does. I was unconcerned. Then Willow started to meow. She usually does that too.
Then Puckett became agitated. She kept getting up from her towel, mewing her little squeaky meow, trying to crawl over the console to the back - like there was any room for her back there - and panting.
The panting worried me. Panting usually means a cat is extremely stressed and possibly about to puke. Or maybe die. The last cat I had that panted like that died in my arms from kidney failure. My Himalayan, Mindi, used to drool when she was very upset, usually when we tried to clean out her ears.
Four Piles of Puke:
An hour down the road Puckett had puked three times and pooped once, and a horrendous stench met us from the backseat of the truck, announcing that someone else had puked and/or pooped. The farther we drove the worse the stench got. Puckett was extremely agitated now, and I held her in my lap as she went rigid with shock and stress. Her head sort of lolled against my leg like she was too weak to lift it. My jeans were covered in barf, and Puckett blew her coat everywhere. She had also started to drool, ribbons of saliva hanging from her open mouth and covering the bench where she sat.
Three Pissed Off Cats:
From the backseat Percy and Willow both yelled louder and more insistent like we were taking them through a portal to the bowels of hell. The farther we got the more the smell reeked, and California Guy finally asked if I wanted to turn around and take the cats home. I was nearly in tears. At this point I was afraid Puckett would give herself a heart attack. She was panting hard and very quickly, and I couldn't tell which cat in the backseat had made a mess that smelled like rotten tuna mixed with a dead cat. Maybe one of them had died from the shock by then, I wasn't sure, so I kept calling their names to get them to meow at me.
We turned around halfway to Casper and headed back home. Puckett sort of sank into a stupor where she went perfectly still while still panting and drooling. She stopped puking and pooping, though whoever had made a mess in the backseat caused us both to want to hurl.
Two Humans About to Be Sick:
It was another hour home and we drove the whole way without turning the heat on and rolling the windows down periodically. The smell was that bad. We had managed to clean Puckett up somewhat though she'd gotten puke all over her towel, her paws, and my jeans, but whoever had gotten sick in the backseat was trapped in his or her carrier with the mess. All of that combined with whatever stench was taking place in the backseat was enough to make us both sick to our stomachs and ready to strap the carriers to the roof of the truck.
And a Cat in the Bathtub:
When we got everyone home, I shoved Tess outside, released Puckett in the house where she immediately slipped under the bed and remained there, and brought Percy into the bathroom to see if he was the one who grossed everybody out. Percy was clean, just loud and upset, and as soon as I let him out of his carrier he was fine. He didn't hide and he didn't seem too much the worse for wear. He went to the cabinet to investigate the state of his food bowl.
We brought Willow into the bathroom and let her out of her carrier. There were two piles of poop and a pile of puke in her carrier, and the smell was so God awful I nearly had to bend over the toilet myself. Willow's paws and backside were covered in shit so California Guy had to grasp her by the scruff and hold her under the faucet while I rinsed and shampooed her. She was in so much shock (or maybe just so pissed off) she didn't even scream like she usually does when I try to groom her. The poor cat looked miserable and pitiful, and she looked even more miserable and pitiful when she was wet. Wet, she shrinks down to half her size where she's practically just eyeballs and ears.
We got her cleaned up and released her. She retreated to the dog bed to groom herself and fix the damage we inflicted on her. California Guy decided to go home and collect Surina and then come back so we could spend Christmas at my house. I turned my attention to the cat carrier.
I once again nearly hung over the side of the toilet. I'll spare the details, but even a seasoned shit shoveler such as myself had to stop periodically to gag and cover my nose while I cleaned the thing.
All in all it turned out to be a fairly nice Christmas. We decorated my tiny tree, arranged the presents, turned on all the Christmas lights, and watched silly Christmas movies. Even Surina the chow hound got a pile of ham leftovers to keep her occupied, and Tess got more than her usual number of cookies.
As for the cats, once everyone was back home and clean and secure, they reverted to normal behavior as though I'd never tried to drag them on some crazy adventure. Puckett only stayed under the bed for an hour before she came out, and Willow forgave the bath fairly quickly. Within the hour all three of them were dancing around the food cabinet, begging for food. I was still nauseated and they'd all lost the contents of their stomachs, but hey, they were hungry.
Leave it to the cats to think about food after a nasty-smelling adventure like that.