Friday, September 17, 2010

A Tail of Two Cats

Part of the decision-making process about moving to Hong Kong involved our two cats, Olivia and Audrey.  Olivia is a beautiful orange ball of ennui and Audrey is a bit skittish in her black, white and orange-dolloped fur coat.  Olivia was found on the grounds of a friend's home in the country and Audrey inherited from a cat-allergy sufferer. 

When "the girls" and I first started living together, it was in my tiny house on West Washington in Athens. We got along just fine - of course there was the usual territorial disagreements ("This is MY couch seat. I sleep ON THIS SIDE of the bed." And that was just between Olivia and me!). Audrey and Kitten (as we call her) eventually identified their favorite spots and life was peaceful.

Mark and I purchased our house on Sunset and the world opened up for our two kitties!  So much space to run and romp! More sunspots than shade! The crowning glory: a screened in porch. Well, perhaps the mouse was the crowning glory - a fun filled night of mousing about a month after we moved in. And, because Olivia can't read this, I will confess that Audrey is the better mouser. Olivia was interested but not as quick to understand the amount of hilarity a real live mouse can produce. I won't bore you with details of me standing on the couch, calling Lauren and Mark on the phone, trying to crawl through the kitchen window (because Audrey and the mouse were dancing in the only doorway of the family room) and eventually waiting outside for Lauren to give the all clear. Nor will we discuss Mark coming home at 6 in the morning to finish the job that Audrey started - that also involved me standing on a chair "cheering Mark and Audrey on" with high pitched squeals. Either way, the mouse was relocated to a more private setting and life went on. 

And then the news came about our move.  Here are just some of the hoops we jumped through to get these cats 7,000 miles across the world.  First, the cats were flying cargo as there was something about not being in the cabin during international flights. So, we had to purchase very specific carriers (big enough for them to stand and turn around, plastic, handle on top, two tray dish for food and water). I picked purple because its my fav color.  When they arrived and were assembled, I spent time strategically placing treats just outside, just on the edge and inside the crate, so the cats would get used to being inside of them. Soooo clever! Olivia would only reach in with her paw to grab what she couldn't get by craning her neck.  Audrey zipped in, zipped out and then sat just outside the door, licking her paw, almost like a gunfighter blowing the smoke off his hot gun.

Second, the cats had to have chips implanted and updated rabies shots. That was easy enough and not expensive!  Our vet at Abfall Vet Clinic in The Plains was awesome.  She had to fill out two sections of the Animal Health Certificate. It was she (Dr. Murray) that caught I had to go to the US Department of Agriculture and get the third section signed and notarized. Thankfully, the USDA was just a 60 minute drive north of Athens and we completed this part of the assignment on the way to drop our car in Cleveland.

Third, we had to have a certificate of acceptance completed in Hong Kong. For that, we relied on Derek at the relocation company. Emails flying back and forth - how did the world work before the Internet? Confirmations, delays, time differences - I have to say, it truly came down to the wire - we were faxing and emailing documents at 2 a.m. on the day we were flying out to Hong Kong!

Finally, the cats could not fly if the the temperature on the tarmac would be above 85 degrees.  Can you believe a heat wave came through that week! On Monday we checked the predicted weather over and over. We had to make a decision that involved a gazillion phone calls to Delta. This is where Mark's amazing patience and negotiation skills came into play. In the end, he had it all arranged to have the cats fly out on Friday (one day after us) and arrive on Saturday night. Our final challenge, what to do with the cats as we were leaving on Thursday.

I know there are people reading this that would have given up by this point...and I am one of them!  Much earlier in this process I told Mark between the cost and stress, these two cats might just find a new home in the U.S.  Once the cats were safely on their way to HK Mark teased , "I'll never tell them their mother had them just moments away from the incinerator." 

The cats boarded with my wonderful brother, Crispen, for two nights.  We dropped them at his house on Wednesday night and he dropped them at Delta on Friday morning. 

A slight bit of confusion on Saturday night indicated the cats had not left on Friday morning but out-dated emails were updated and suddenly all was right again.  The cats arrived, safe, sound, tired and a little disoriented.  They have settled into our life here in Shama. They have lovely views from several windows and have befriended the apartment's housekeeper, Elsie.  I know they miss the spaciousness of our house but have found their favorite spots here as well. Audrey on the back of the couch and Olivia on the chair, when she's not on the bed snuggled under the comforter.

Here's Audrey checking out the new hiding places.

Kitten loves how the carpet compliments her fur.

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