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What would you do?

Picture this: It is 2003 and Andy and I are driving from Port Douglas, Queensland down to Victoria with Abby in tow. She starts out in a pet carrier, but after pooping in it after only five minutes in the car, a stop to clean it, and then about 40 non stop minutes of meowing she moves out of the carrier and into the back seat. She is quite safe and comfortable back there; we covered the seat in a big blanket and had her on her leash so she couldn’t jump into the front. She seems to settle and takes in the sights as we drive. We have to stop at one point for a herd of cows to cross the road and they are all around our car – Abby can not believe what see is watching! What on Earth are these things? It was the cutest thing either Andy or I had seen up to that point. After a few stops it is obvious that Abby is freaking out on the inside because she will not drink any water. Eventually things went so far that we had a cat that was half dead (or so it seemed) and panting like a dog in the back seat covered in ice blocks to keep her cool, but who still would not drink. We make our first stop for the night and sneak Abby into a motel and she hides under the bed the entire time. She eventually gives in and has a drink once she calms down and the rest of our stops are closer together and she makes it to Victoria safe and sound.

That was quite a scene and I later learned that some cats will be stupid stubborn enough to let themselves die rather than drink if they become stressed. And that brings us to today and the extremely hard decision we are trying make concerning Abby and flying to the other side of the world.

The argument for taking her: Abby is an odd animal (as most cats are) and has a few quirks (as most cats do) and I worry that other people will not be able to cater to them like we will. Abby loves us (and we love her) and has pretty much disliked every other person, save a few, that she has met. The girls have had Abby in their lives since day one and it will make them very sad to leave Abby behind. I worry that if we find Abby another home that she will get depressed and not eat or drink and die. Abby sleeps beside me every night. A couple weeks ago when she had a sore eye she was right up beside me and I cuddled her like a baby and she purred until we both fell asleep.

The argument for finding her a home here: We worry that she will freak on the plane- the three different planes- not drink when she is given water between flights and die. We also worry all the moving between flights will stress her out. Even if she makes it once we get to Canada we will be staying with my parents until we find a house and Abby will have to live with two dogs, one of whom hates cats. (Plus I don’t think the dogs will be too thrilled either.) So we worry that will stress her out, and so on. When I explained the situation to the vet they recommended we find Abby a home here. To be honest the main thing here is that we feel pretty certain that Abby will die in transit and that is an awful thought.

This is really hard. Abby is a family member and I feel like any option is signing her death warrant. What would you do? Do you think she could adapt if we found a home that would take her in and love her? Do you think it’s worth risking her life to bring her? I’ll go through everything and decide the best idea is to find her a home and then find it too hard to think about actually doing it so then I think we should just take her, but then I feel awful about the idea of putting Abby through all that, and and and.

Abber Dabs

She really is a pretty great, low maintenance cat who’s mellowed over the years (she is seven) – any takers? Or ideas?

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10 Responses

  1. Aw man, this is tough. My cats hate to travel, too, so I know what you’re talking about. The panting thing is more about stress than being hot, I think. I hate seeing them like that.

    Could you use a squirt syringe to get some water in her during the travel? That wouldn’t resolve the stress issue, but I think after some time she would recover from the stress.

    But the other thing to consider is whether or not Canada requires a quarantine period for animals coming into the country. Some places insist on, like, 6 months or something, and that would be the deal breaker for me.

  2. (Just to clarify in case you’ve never had to use one – the squirt syringe thingy I’m talking about doesn’t have a needle – it’s just a syringe you fill with water and then squirt down an animal’s throat. My vet has me use this after I’ve given a pill by mouth, to wash the pill down so it doesn’t get lodged somewhere.)

  3. FYI, Canada doesn’t require quarantine:
    http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/heasan/import/catse.shtml

    I don’t envy you this decision.

  4. Is there any way you can tranquilize her for the trip? If not, I think I would try to find her a home before you leave.

  5. Aw, this is awful. I fret enough about my beautiful pets when I leave the house for the day. I can’t imagine having to contemplate leaving them behind. For some reason I thought you’d decided to take her with you.

    Could you maybe train her into it. That’s not the word, but I mean pop her in her travel cage for a few minutes one day and then a few minutes longer the next until she gets used to it? Maybe she could make it if she was prepared for it?

  6. You have a good long period of time to try and find her a wonderful new home. There are lots of people out there who will love Abby and will work around her quirks. I would start hunting now, to give yourself the maximum opportunity. I have recently rehomed our cat and we had 4 different people wanting him. I have been getting email updates and I know he is happy. I’ve also moved countries with 2 cats and so I know at least what that was like for them on the NZ->OZ scale. OZ->Canada is a huge trip and with Abby’s history I’d be worried too. In your situation I would hunt for a new home and if I couldn’t find one, then I would take her with you. Syringing through the trip is not really an option as you will not have access to her once you leave. If she is given water – you may just have to hope that she’ll take it through the flight. Also, you could request valium to make it easier for her. Our cat Max ended up on Valium and he was very mellow!

    Good luck 🙂
    Jannene

  7. Thanks for all the suggestions, ladies. I think we’re going to have to find her a home because we’ll be buying our plane tickets this week and I’d have to know if she was going to be on there too. That leaves out the training idea, and I’ve also been told that you can’t sedate them for that long of a trip. 😦 It’s not an easy choice, but since we have to plan now I think it’s the only way. I also want to give her a couple months to adjust to a new home so that we can visit her and hopefully stop her from running away. Now to find someone, that’s the tricky part.

  8. Check out Ebay. We put Fuego (our cat) on Trademe and got 4 people interested. Trademe is the Ebay equivalent, so it might have something similar

  9. Jannene, you have a blog?! Let me in! *ahem* Please?

  10. […] find out if it works this afternoon – and God help K that it works or she might be in the same boat as Abby come […]

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