By Chelscey Clayton (Guest Author)
Take a road trip, they said. Use your move as an opportunity to explore, they said. Except that those people didn’t travel with 3 pets. Or if they did, I guarantee you none of those animals were cats.
First, a little context: I have never lived more than 60 miles from Los Angeles. When I travel for long distances, it’s me and my dog (and sometimes husband), because he’s a good dog and loves being with me at all times—literally (this applies to the husband, too). Then, the husband got a job in New Orleans and I said, “Well, why not? Let’s do it!” And so, we packed up our life and started to drive. This included packing up our 2 cats and our dog, and drugging them for 4 days straight because oh my God, those cats were driving me crazy.
My dog, on the other hand, was a saint.
I don’t have children. I imagine my cats crying all through the night in every hotel room was akin to a baby crying and keeping parents up all night.
The pet sedatives that we had—because, fun fact, cat’s won’t stop meowing for 8+ hours of driving if you don’t mellow them out—always wore off at about ten at night. Just about the time when we were settling in, and preparing for another long drive the next day. At which time, my little balls-of-fluff were just beside themselves.
I get it, they were scared, and didn’t know what was happening. But while my dog would look at us and decide “Well, if Mom and Dad are here, then I’m good.” My cats would look at us and think, “OHMYGODWHEREAMI?! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!”
Did I feel bad for them and wish to ease their discomfort? Of course! I’m a devoted pet parent. But I couldn’t figure out what to do. They didn’t want to cuddle with us, they didn’t want to eat, they just cried, and cried. Again, I assume much like a teething toddler where there is just nothing you can do to make things better for the suffering child. Unless you employ some shady methods—usually involving whiskey (I won’t judge you).
We passed through beautiful states, we saw some amazing vistas, but all from the “comforts” of our car because we couldn’t risk leaving the cats alone for a moment, and this included the hotel rooms. We couldn’t take a stroll through the city, dine at a local haunt that was just-to- die-for, because if we did, the cats would lose their minds, and the dog would respond by trying to “play” with them—which the cats would hate even more.
I kept telling myself, “Next time, we’ll do this the right way. Next time, we’ll take the scenic route”. But that was a bold-faced lie. Why? Because I love my cats, even when they are insufferable jerks, and I wouldn’t leave them, or give them up for anything. Eventually, I stopped trying to force feed myself the lie, and my mantra became “This will be over soon. We’ll get to our new house, and it’ll be fine”.
Well, spoiler: we did get there, but it was not fine.
We didn’t have our furniture, power, or hot water for the first few nights (but that’s a different story), so we had to sleep on an air mattress, and the blankets and pillows we took with us for packing purposes. We could have stayed in a hotel and been more comfortable, but I was so tired of subjecting myself—and the pets—to that, that we just decided to “rough it”.
Again, this could have been fine. It could have been like urban camping from the “comforts” of our own home; except for the cats.
No, they weren’t crying anymore. They sensed we had arrived and things were okay by that point. Instead, our cats would see the sleeping lumps of their humans and think, “That looks like a monster. I must slay it!”
Please note: they have never thought that before when they saw us sleeping.
Cut to one of my cat’s pouncing on my foot, claws out, in the middle of the night. I did mention we were sleeping on an air mattress, right? Good. How that thing didn’t pop is beyond me, but thankfully it—and I—survived the encounter.
“So, Chelscey, would you do it again?” Willingly? No, but that’s not an option. I won’t be in New Orleans for the rest of my life, so I will be moving again at some point. Which means we’ll once more be loading up our fur-babies, and attempting to travel cross country.Have I learned anything from the experience? Sure: kitty-downers are a life saver. Will that change anything for the future? No. Because unlike babies, cat’s never grow up. They stay inconsolable little creatures who I will always have to clean-up after, and who will never be able to tell me what’s wrong, but whom I will still love fiercely.
I will tell you what I would do differently next time though; stopping at fewer hotels and just powering through the drive. Because either way, I’m not sleeping.
Written By: Chelscey Clayton, author of The Monster of Selkirk series.
C. E. Clayton (Chelscey) was born and raised in Southern California where she worked in the advertising industry for several years on accounts that ranged from fast food, to cars, and video games (her personal favorite). This was before she packed up her life, husband, two displeased cats, and one very confused dog and moved to New Orleans. Now, she is a full time writer (mainly in the fantasy genre), her cats are no longer as displeased, and her dog no longer confused. More about C.E. Clayton, including her blog, book reviews, and poetry, can be found on her website: https://www.ceclayton.com/