Saturday, May 17, 2008

Crossing into Canada

Some time ago, I realized that it's a wee bit difficult to carry out your long-desired footloose/fancy-free/bumlike lifestyle when you have a small furry creature dependent on you for its happiness.  That's right: an Italian boyfriend.

Or, in my case, a cat.

So I decided that I would leave my cat with my mother, who loves cats to the point of obsession, and occasionally talks for them.  She gets upset when she chastises them for something and they don't immediately respond; I occasionally have to remind her that they don't speak English.  Or if they do, it's only selectively, filtered through a Don't Care hearing aid.

My mom lives in London, Ontario, which tries really hard to be like the real London and fails miserably; although there is a river Thames here and a Wellington Rd. and some truly abominable food, it is too small and pretentious and full of Canadians to be really London.  It is also, apparently, the insurance capital of Ontario.  I don't know if that means they sell the most here, or that everyone is so rich that they take out the most insurance, protecting not just their lives and houses and cars but also their teeth and Prada handbags and show dogs named Fifi.

I used to live, and my cat is from Pittsburgh, PA.  In case you hadn't noticed, these are two different countries.  So I had to make my cat an international traveler, and I was mostly worried they would do to him what they claim to do at the Australian border: quarantine the animal for six months until it is completely looked over by a vet and you pay them a million dollars.  As it turns out, coming into Canada, you just have to have proof of a current rabies vaccination, for which verified certificate you have to pay your vet a million dollars.  

I ignored the vet, called Transportation Canada or whatever they're called, and they told me the little printed piece of paper and rabies tag that I got when I got him vaccinated last would be enough.  I was still nervous though.  He's never been on a long car trip before, and I think he has post-traumatic flashbacks to the pound every time he gets near a carrier: he splays out all four legs and all claws on each leg as wide as they will go and screams and moans and hides under furniture.

So I just put him in the car.  No carrier, just shoved him in the front seat with my sweater, a pillow, and some food in a dish.  He meowed sadly for the first half an hour, and sat in my lap in between the steering wheel and my chest.  I sit way up front because I have stumpy legs that barely reach the pedals, and he is a big fat cat, so there wasn't a lot of ROOM there, but he sat in it anyway and shed all over my pants to prove his point, which was, namely: I AM MISERABLE THAT YOU ARE DOING THIS TO ME.

Then, his gnat-like attention span kicked in and he retreated over to the other seta, first to queasily squat, then sit, then completely recline and curl up and go to sleep.  That's what he was doing when we arrived at the border.

I was nervous.  I had my passport ready, his vaccination stuff.  I worried about how I would get him out of the car so they could look at him: in the carrier?  Just hold him?  His little nose twitched in his sleep.  I hit the only border line I've ever been to where I could just drive right up to the gate; usually I have to wait for approximately 72 hours in line because I have a knack for always picking the  one that goes slowest.

"Where do you live?" the guard asked.  Damn, hard questions first.  I explained my "no fixed address" thing, and he nodded.

"Bringing any tobacco or firearms?"  Nope.

He waved me through.

That was it?  I don't think he even NOTICED the cat.  Given, my cat is black and white and he was sleeping on a black and white sweater, but still.  Wouldn't you think he should have said, "Any livestock?"

So my cat is now officially Canadian.  He lives with my mom.  And he is going to make some new friends shortly, when I introduce him to her cats.


MaggieMayDay said...

Gotta love an international kitty, or an Italian boyfriend.

We brought three cats and a dog back from Japan via Detroit and then West Virginia and then California and ultimately Utah. Except the dog, she remained a hillbilly. A Japanese Shiba-ken hillbilly.

This also involved a 24 hour+ plane delay in Tokyo, a stay at a hotel which made the animals sleep int he baggage room. Those big ashtrays make great cat boxes, and poached salmon from the breakfast buffet makes good dog food. Poached poached salmon, as it were. Raining in Detroit and our luggage went to Amsterdam; Larry was in uniform so customs with the animals was a breeze. Roadtrip with three kitties who didn't want to roadtrip. Losing Jake in the motel room in Vegas ... we thought he got out, but we could hear him. Somehow he'd crawled up into the drawer of the bedside table. And so on.

A million? You got off cheap.

Purple Rose Tearoom said...

What you need is a CAT BAG! I bought one for my brother (or, more correctly, my brother's cat) at the home show a few years ago. Its basically a cloth bag with a hole for her head and velcro around the hole so she doesn't try to weasle out. So she remains constrained without the carrier trauma. Of course, she hates it, but she's a cat.

One word of advice: if the cat is mostly white, DO NOT buy a red cat bag!! The first time my brother put his cat in the bag, the color rubbed off and she ended up pink. Not good for a guy's cat....