Traveling with cats- a cautionary tale

It’s been a busy couple of months for us. For those of you dying to know, Stanford Nurses did NOT, in fact, go on strike, much to my relief. They were able to reach an agreement that seems to please everyone for now, and I am happy for them. In the meantime, we had quite a few exciting opportunities come our way, including the opportunity to move to OREGON!!!!! I ended up getting an assignment in an adult oncology infusion center in Corvallis, Oregon, which we hear is very much like Ft. Collins.


Looking at our next drive, however, I’m dreading another day in the car with the cats. This goes beyond the usual “Tobi won’t shut up” bit and I’ll tell you why.

When we started out talking about living the gypsy lifestyle, Jason and I had some pretty frank discussions about whether or not we should bring our fuzzy pals, Tobi and Monk, with us. For starters, Tobi is a holy terror when confined anywhere and this behavior is magnified by eleventy-billion when he is confined within his carrier in a moving vehicle. Our other cat, Monk, pouted for two days and would not eat after we moved a mere 15 minutes down the road in Durham, so we wondered how he would handle moving every three months. In the end, our hearts overruled our heads and we decided to take them both with us.

I discussed our impending trek to Colorado with our vet. She suggested testing out an artificial hormone called Feloway. Science is pretty amazing, so please allow me to take a moment and describe the awesome concept of Feloway. They have managed to artificially design the facial pheromone that cats use to mark their surroundings. You see cats do this quite a bit in the home, or on your hand. The scent tells them that wherever they are is safe and they should be there. A great concept for travel, we tried out the wipes provided by our vet prior to our drive from North Carolina to Colorado.

IIIIIIIIII don’t think it worked one bit. I think it’s a fabulous concept, but we seemed to be plagued with delays that added to an already stressful situation, and no amount of fake facial pheromone was going to help us. Since May of 2015, we have traveled from North Carolina to Colorado to Arizona, back to Colorado, then to California. Along the way we have learned some very important lessons.

Losing your keys down the rabbit hole…

I have been wanting to share this story and this is the best segue I will ever get. The day we left North Carolina for Colorado may have been the single worst day of my life. Obviously we were sad to be leaving but here is an account of all the crap that went south on that fateful day...**cue memory sequence**

Jason and I had planned to be on the road by about 5pm, with a goal of reaching West Virginia by the evening. We started the morning cleaning, only to discover that our water was shut off by 10am. This was our error, as we had accidentally asked them to shut the water off on the day we were leaving, not the day after. So we utilized our neighbors garden hose for buckets of water. We started packing the car at about 2pm. This took all our Tetris skills combined, and I discovered that my work running a food pantry and packing as much as I could into a small van really payed off. We managed to get the car packed, got the bike rack on the car, locked the bikes to the bike rack, and started the air conditioner. We loaded the kitties into their carriers, and hit the road about 5:30pm. Not bad, by all accounts and we were congratulating ourselves on sticking to our timeline when we stopped for gas about an hour outside of Durham and noticed that the open trunk light was on. This was the point that I realized I didn’t have my keys on me. My keychain not only held my keys to our car, but also my bike lock keys, with which I had locked our bikes to the bike rack. I searched everywhere I feasibly could in our packed vehicle; I called our landlord who had to unlock the house and look for my keys, all with no success. We decided to turn around and head back to Durham. We spent the next hour rummaging through trash, recycling, and leaves, only to conclude that I had NO idea where my keys were. The cats were freaking out and overheated, Monk was assaulted by our neighbors curious dog while trapped in the carrier, and then it started to rain. We decided to call it, and started back on the road by 7pm.

We only made it to a small town in the Virginia mountains called Wytheville. Have you ever heard of it? Probably not. Neither had we. But I did get to explore the Emergency Room. As it turns out, not a lot happens in Wytheville, VA, even in the ER. Either way, my problem was not traumatic, just urgent, and seeing as it was the middle of nowhere Virginia at 10:30 PM, there were no open urgent cares to be found. What a blessing that I still had health insurance! If anything good came out of that day, it was the fact that I was in an out of the ER in 45 minutes. Trust me, I know how amazing that sounds. Forty…five…minutes.

After that first day, our other days seemed mild by comparison! But that still didn’t mean they weren’t annoying. Tobi only STOPPED meowing for about 2 hours the entire car trip. All three days. 2 hours. I counted like I was counting the seconds until his demise. The end was nearer at hand than he realized. We landed in Colorado just happy that we all made it out alive.


Yes, I misspelled sedative, and if you don’t know why, I want you stop reading this blog and go watch Young Frankenstein. Right now.

Seriously, I'll wait...
Seriously, I’ll wait…

We had tried out the Feloway spray in North Carolina and took Tobi and Monk on a little “tour” around town to see how they did. We didn’t notice a huge difference, but we were hesitant to try sedating him. We reconsidered after our drive to Colorado, but ended up waiting it out again, thinking that two days couldn’t be worse than three.

Then, we drove down to Phoenix. Tobi, admittedly, did much better, but he also tried to scratch and bite his way out of his carrier so aggressively that he rubbed his nose raw on the netting. Like I said, holy terror. I cannot tell you the number of times I actually considered leaving him on the side of the road. We finally secured some sedatives for him and thought all our kitty travel problems were solved. How wrong we were.

Zombie Cat

We were driving back to Colorado from Phoenix. We had checked out of our AirBnB at 10 AM, the doors were locked with no way of returning. Tobi was sufficiently drugged and we were 20 minutes into our highway travel, when Jason (who was driving) noticed a slight movement out of the corner of his eye. Apparently we failed to secure the door to Tobi’s cat carrier and he was now drunkenly stumbling all over our belongings with his third eyelid activated because of the sedatives giving him the “Zombie Cat” appearance and though he wasn’t meowing with the same gusto, he certainly wanted us to know that he was displeased with this situation. After some bouts of yelling and freaking out, we pulled over, secured Tobi, and continued on our way.

It was pretty much like this
It was pretty much like this

A mere 5 minutes later, Monk began to holler in a panic, something that was so out of character for him we were taken aback, until the smell of feces wafted to the front of the car and we realized we would have to pull over, yet again. Luckily I kept some baby wipes and paper towels in the car, and after doing a very rough cleaning of Monk’s carrier, proceeded to wipe him down on the side of the road in the blistering Phoenix sun. When we finally arrived at our hotel in Sante Fe, we gave Monk a bath, took his carrier mat to the coin laundry, ordered pizza and popped open a bottle of prosecco. I felt we deserved a pat on the back for surviving all that and nothing says “celebrate” like pizza and prosecco in plastic cups.

Puke Skywalker and Dookie Howser

Since then, Tobi has started to puke in his carrier while Monk has consistently defecated approximately 30-45 minutes into our trip (only on the first day, thank goodness). On our drive out to California, I once again wiped Monk down, this time in the snowbanks of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, with a windchill of probably 20 degrees. PoopThis has brought them the good fortune of some pretty classic nicknames such as Puke Skywalker and Dookie Howser. Others have included: Barf Simpson, Spew Jackman, Puke of Hurl, Dumpfrey Bogart, Upchuck Norris, Vladimir Pooten (complements of The Inbetweeners), Joseph Stoolin, Crappy Gilmore, and Bradley Pooper.

We’re still open for suggestions. Feel free to comment.





One thought on “Traveling with cats- a cautionary tale”

  1. Puke of earl
    Pooberry hill
    Since you mentioned young Frankenstein, what about Herr shitzel or Victor von poop van Stein

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