Good news – one of our new neighbors has an unsecured internet connection. I’ll keep updating as usual, then.
The cats took the 23 hour and 54 minute trip remarkably well. Buttercup did throw up in the first half hour (right before the Bay Bridge, actually) and Wesley pooped in the carrier. Thanks to the puppy pee pads that Naomi gave us, cleanup was incredibly easy. I am definitely lining the carriers with those the next time we make a car trip of 20 minutes or more.
After the first hour of the trip passed, Serra turned pleasant and chatty. I made some phone calls, and Serra just assumed I was talking to her. “Momma?” I would hear from the back. I hope to get an audio recording of her talking like that one day. I was pleased to see Serra taking the trip so well. I think what worked for her was that she was in the carrier – nervous cats tend to feel more secure in small spaces because they feel like they can defend the territory.
Remarkably, I was able to get the cats to use the litter box when we stopped. We offered it to them every 6 hours, when we felt we also needed to answer nature’s call. I tried to get them to drink some water, but none of the cats were interested. Dehydration can be the biggest concern on a long road trip, so I was a little worried. Cats who are primarily fed wet food drink very little because they get their moisture from the food, so I tried offering that to the kitties instead. It worked for the most part. Serra started to refuse both food and the litter box by the end of the trip, but she was more than willing to drink from the bowl when we arrived at the new house. Whew!
Buttercup and Wesley have moved with us before. As a matter of fact, when they were kittens we regularly took them on 10 – 20 hour road trips when we visited family. They took a 24 hour ride to Michigan for our wedding, and they took the 40 hour ride (split into 4 days) from Florida to San Francisco. They also moved with us frequently when we were in college. They are old pros at the moving thing, and they’ve learned to take it as an adventure. Home is where mommy and daddy are. By contrast, Serra moved with us exactly once – from the first apartment we lived in in San Francisco to the one we just vacated. She took that move very poorly. For the first 24 hours the poor thing wouldn’t leave the bedroom which we had set up as her safe room. I’m not sure Linnea believed we had a 3rd cat at first. After the first day, Serra ventured out of the room, walking with her sides pressed against a wall at all times. When she had to cross an open space, it was belly to the ground all the way. It took weeks, maybe months before she would show herself when strangers were visiting.
When we arrived home, we put all the carriers in the living room. I opened Buttercup and Wesley’s carriers with no concern – they immediately walked out and started surveying their new domain. I debated whether to let Serra out there or to take her to a small room where she could feel safe. Because she handled the car ride so well, I decided to let her out. The first thing Serra did was find the bathroom and jump into the tub. When she realized that wasn’t quite as safe and hidden as she preferred, Serra hid behind the open door and observed us through the crack near the hinges. Choosing not to bother her, Michael and I unloaded the car and let her get comfortable. By the time I got back in, Serra was exploring with everyone else. Sudden movements and noises still scare her a little, but she is taking this like a champ.
One of the most exciting parts of this move was introducing the cats to the new place. I took their needs and wants into consideration, too, when we chose this place, and I wanted to know that the cats approved. Buttercup followed me upstairs where I showed her the bathtub with the ledge for her to lay on while I take baths. I let her roam around on the bathroom counter. Butters explored the closet on her own. When her tour was over, Buttercup pranced out into the hallway, rolled over, and promptly declared the home good enough to be hers! “Now get to the belly rubs, woman!”