Fiction. Cats: everyone loves them, and everyone must know they do not travel well. But, knowing that didn’t deter me from taking Peaches and Buddy to Costa Rica where I lived for two years. They had traveled before on a longer flight to Holland when I lived in The Hague.
I did my homework: the airlines and the country required that veterinarians check-up on the cats a day before leaving. (It is imperative to research both the airline and the country rules for flying with animals. The security requirements may be different when changing airlines or going through security in another country).
The shots were up to date and all paper work in hand along with my passport and airline ticket.
I was up on the airline rules as well as the customs requirements for Costa Rica, and was as ready as could be.
What could go wrong?
Both cats in separate carriers this time, as allowed when flying in the cabin, and placed under our seats.
My son, Ron was with me to help me get the cats to Costa Rica. We got our luggage weighed in and we picked up our boarding passes.
The walk through security check was next.
An agent stopped both of us while our carry on luggage rolled down ahead of us.
“You must take the cats out of the carrier and put them here.” A tiny, uniformed, woman pointed to the floor.
“No, the carrier,” she commanded. “Take the cats out.”
“What? Take the cats out of their carriers?”
I had a death grip on Peaches, and Ron had a death grip on Buddy.
I knew if either cat got loose they would be lost forever in the airport. Can you even imagine that?
Then the agent asked the impossible: hold your arm out so I can pat you down. I gripped Peaches in one arm, while the other arm was held out; then transferred the procedure, moving Peaches slowly and carefully to the other arm, extending the other arm.
I tried to see if Ron was okay with what he was asked to do, but felt Buddy was in capable hands, Now
all we needed to do was to get the cats into their carriers and get on the plane.
“You must take off your shoes.”
“How am I to take off my shoes while holding on to a cat?” I sassed back.
“You have to do as you’re told.” So I sat down, and with one toe, got one shoe off. Then repeated the process with the other shoe. Both shoes were off, and then she squelched my enthusiasm for traveling all together when she asked me to raise my feet so she could look under my shoes.
“Are you kidding me?”
“You must do as your told.”
Try to do that; just try it. You have a cat in your arms and it is desperately wanting to dash away, and now you have to raise your legs high enough so the agent can look under your feet.
Then we were asked to put the cages on the belt so they could be searched. Really? Yes, really.
Traumatized cats and two humans, as well, finally boarded the plane.
Ron’s shoe laces were untied. How he managed to untie his shoes, take them off, all the while holding on to a cat, would not be the last time I marveled at his composure.
We put the cats under the seat in front of us. They screamed at takeoff until we reached a high altitude.
“Do you have a cat back there?” A man in front of my chair turned and asked.
“Well my wife is allergic to cats.”
I didn’t have the courage to tell him there were two cats, not one.
His wife told him it was all right and to leave me alone.
So we landed in Costa Rica and breezed through customs with luggage, paper work, passports and cats, with no problem.
There are other stories to tell about living with the cats while in Costa Rica and the return to the U.S., but those events will follow later.
By Laureen Diephof