Friday, November 19, 2010

A lot of stress, a few cocktails and a little cat pee

We’re finally in Munich! Well, actually, we have been for a couple of days but I’ve been horribly sick since the day before we flew out. I credit that in part to the intense stress mounting up to our departure…and to the numerous cocktails I had at our farewell Madison party.

I’ve only been here a short while and already there is much to write about. Today, I’ll start with the beginning – getting here.

Thomas and I drove to Chicago and stayed 1.5 days in a hotel to limit the time the cats had to be in their carriers. We made a couple of trips to the airport to drop off our luggage and then ourselves and the cats. (It’s important to note here for everyone wondering – no, all of my remaining clothes, shoes, accessories and assorted household goods did not fit into our luggage. We had to make a last minute run to the post office and begrudgingly hand over $172 to ship a box which should arrive next week).

When we got to the airport with the cats, the people in Lufthansa were awesome. They even gave Thomas and me an entire row of four seats all to ourselves since having a carry-on-cat under your seat means less legroom.

At Chicago O'Hare, kitties and luggage in tow

I also learned a few important things about flying with pets. Whether your pet is flying under the plane or under your seat, you’ll need to be prepared to remove Fluffy or Fido from the carrier for airport security:
  • For under-the-plane, this was easier since we were off to the side, away from most of the foot traffic and chaos. But you’ll need to hold your pet for a good three or four minutes while the official examines the crate and bedding.
  • For under-the-seat, this was a little more stressful. Quickly removing coats, sweaters, scarves, belts and shoes is challenging enough, add a stressed out feline into the mix and you’ve got quite a carry-on obstacle course! For obvious reasons, you can’t run a pet though the x-ray machine. So you’ll need to remove him, run the carrier through, and walk through the metal detector with 10 terrified claws latched into your skin, praying you don’t trip the sensor. Surprisingly, my cat was not nearly as hard to handle as I had feared. And he was more than happy to return to his carrier after it had cleared x-ray.
Once we were aboard the flight, my neighboring passengers were treated to the often loud, and not-so-musical sounds of periodic cat cries. Luckily, it only appeared to annoy one older lady who I didn’t care for anyway since she kept annoying the flight attendants with various non-cat-under-the-seat-related questions and complaints. I figured the mutual annoyances cancelled each other out.

At last we landed! As Thomas and I walked through the Munich airport, he noticed something wet had dripped onto his shoes. He thought it was from a drink. But I had a sinking feeling that said otherwise. It took a quick carrier sniff to realize it was cat pee. Poor baby couldn’t hold it. Not his fault, but now we had to find a pet supply store for shampoo pronto!

Thomas found one (without the navigation system that was supposed to be in our rental car from Sixt). We rushed to our new apartment, and before I could even take a tour, I had the bathwater started and a soaped up stinky little furbaby and his carrier. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to take his medication out of the side pocket before submersing it in the bathwater. So now it looks like I’ll be taking on the “finding a vet in Germany” challenge on a little sooner than expected.

In the meantime, I’ve managed to dry out some of the pills (which have been reduced to white powder) on a paper plate. That, combined with the plastic syringes I use to administer the medication (without the needle) will no doubt make a great impression should our landlady open the cabinet when she drops by tomorrow…