Because I've waited so long to update, I'm overwhelmed with all the things I need to catch everyone up on! I suppose I'll start with the flight from LA to Buffalo - especially now that the trauma of the experience has worn off and now I can finally laugh about it...
It was our final flight as California residents, to once again become New York State residents. A few short weeks before, we had two kittens and a bunny. I decided after doing some research about how rabbits tolerate travel (or rather don't), I thought it would be better for all of us if she didn't make the trip with us. They have delicate little systems that can fail if under too much stress, between the altitude, pressure changes and all the rest of the craziness of a flight, it could do her in (and lord knows we don't need to deal with the death of our beloved sweet little bunny). Not to mention that my system would fail under the stress of moving across the country with two kids and three animals on one flight. We found a great home for her - one that needed her just as much as she needed them (the topic of a separate post).
After researching flying with rabbits, I looked into flying with kittens. I also checked with their vet, and they suggested not sedating them because it could do more harm to them than good. I had them in one carrier since they've always been together in a carrier when taking them to the vet, so I thought they would be comforted by each other. I did end up buying two other separate carriers just in case the airlines insist that each animal needs to be in its own separate carrier, so I wanted to be prepared. What I wasn't prepared for was what happened between flight one and two.
Fortunately, we didn't have to change planes between LA and Buffalo, but we did have a brief layover in Phoenix. When we landed in Phoenix, I noticed a suspicious odor coming from the cats' carrier, so I brought them with me into the tiny shoebox bathroom on the plane to check things out.
Turns out one of the cats had diarrhea. Probably the WORST case scenario that could have happened. Poop was smeared everywhere in the carrier, on the cats, and then trying to wash them up in the bathroom was next to impossible. They were climbing all over the place and made even more of a mess. It was a fucking nightmare. When I opened the door to the bathroom, the odor reached one of the flight attendants who, with a horrified look on her face shouted, "We need to stop the passengers from boarding! This smell will make people sick!" I was utterly mortified. Like, more than I think I ever have been in my entire LIFE.
While they delayed boarding, they had a guy come in to clean the bathroom. I overheard him say to the attendant, "I've been doing this for over twenty years and I have NEVER experienced anything like this before."
Of COURSE. Because even though thousands of people have flown across the country with cats (work with me here, people - I can't possibly be the only one, right???), not one of them had diarrhea? No, because something like that only happens to me. Hundreds of people read this blog - please tell me one of you have at least heard of this happening to someone else. Please?
Thank God I had those other carriers because I threw the one out they were in (in the garbage bag that was banned from the plane) and put the cats in clean, separate carriers and after quietly stowing them under the seats in front of us, I hid among my children in the seats. As they resumed boarding, they piped in cinnamon-scented air through the vents to attempt to squelch the stench. Honestly, it probably ended up to be the cleanest air in an airplane I've ever experienced. How often to they change the air in those things completely like that, anyway? Maybe I did everyone a favor and spared them some nasty airborne ailment?
When the attendant came around offering drinks, I asked for a Bloody Mary. She didn't even charge me, and she brought me a second one for free, too. Bless her.
The kids were being SO good during the whole thing, too - I don't think they knew what was going on until after it was all over.
We landed in Buffalo with no further drama, picked up our rental and headed to my mother's house which is about a half-mile away from the airport to get the booster seats for the car before heading to the farm where we were going to stay that first night.
I had the cats on harnesses with leashes and let them out of the car to do their business outside before continuing on (since they were so good about holding it the rest of the way on the plane), and then the other cat (the one that didn't have diarrhea) broke free from the harness and took off into the woods across the street behind my mother's house. I can't say I blame her after what they just went through, but it took me an hour and a half to find her in the dark (and the rain, of course). I had a fleeting thought to just give up, but after what I went through to bring them across the country with us, they weren't getting off that easy.
By the time I found her, it was after 11 pm and I was EXHAUSTED. We ended up just crashing on the floor of my mother's living room and then we headed to our new home the next morning.
...to be continued...