Thursday, July 16, 2009

Traveling with Meez-related Update

June 30, 2009 – Packing to move commences.IMGP3026   Meez was obviously excited for the move (see: left), he insisted on coming with us from Thailand, and naturally we agreed.  

Our 48 hours of hell:
July 3, 2009:
3:00 a.m. – Meez is asleep in his kennel on the foot of the bed, his standard activity.  The front door is closed and he wakes up at the first movement, meows quietly, but hears my voice reassuring him and sits nicely.  We get in the taxi, Meez looks excited, pupils dilated.  He is trying to see everything out the windows, turning around and around in his kennel.  After a few minutes he sits again and waits.   Meanwhile, I am suffering the most terrifying cab ride of my life.  The driver is half asleep, the taxi is rickety, everything is rattling and it has trouble traveling highway speeds.  The lights barely work, and the expressway to the airport is under construction, but not well marked.  The only other vehicles on the highway are huge dump trucks with no tail lights.  Then it starts to rain: the windshield wipers barely work and I’m convinced my time has come.  If I had a God, I would’ve started praying about now.

3:40 a.m. – Against all odds, we arrive safely at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport just outside of Bangkok.  We load the Meez atop our [many] suitcases on the luggage cart and proceed to the Northwest Airlines counter.  I am nervous for him.  To put an outdoor cat into a kennel for 25+ hours of flying seems cruel, but leaving him behind is obviously not an option, so I swallow my nerves and present our passports for check in.  Things are going smoothly. the lady behind the counter even offers to change our seats around to put Matt and I together, as well as put us at the back of the plane so that Meez’s slightly-too-tall kennel can go behind the seat against the bulkhead.  Lovely.  They don’t even charge us overage on our ridiculously heavy and giant suitcases.  Perfect.  This is where things get stressful.  This is the watered-down version of our exchange with Northwest Airlines.

NWA Employee: “So I’ll need to see your export license for the cat.”
Jacquie: “Oh, Canada doesn’t require that license, so I just have this vaccination certificate.”
NWA Employee: “But you’re traveling through Japan, which requires additional documentation.”
Jacquie: “But we’re not even leaving the airport, we’re only there for 90 minutes.”
NWA: “Doesn’t matter, without that paperwork, we can’t let you fly today.”
Jacquie: “Fuck.”
NWA: “It’s ok, get a hotel, then go to the animal quarantine office and get the paperwork today and we’ll fly you out tomorrow morning on the same schedule at no extra charge.”

Ok, well it seems like we don’t have a choice, and luck would have it that I still have a free hotel stay on my Accor member card.   We’ve been waiting months to get out of Thailand, what’s one more day?

5:00 a.m. - We use up my free stay at the very clean, comfortable and classy Airport Novotel (not sarcastic, one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever been in).  I’m feeling a little guilty about the cat having to spend 24 extra hours in his kennel downstairs in the security office, but I visit him every few hours and take him outside.  

9:00 a.m. – I remove the Meez from his kennel and go for another taxi ride.  I obtain the paperwork, all the people in the office are loving the Meez/Jacquie duo:
”He’s so cute and well behaved.  I can’t believe you don’t keep him in his kennel.”
”You two look alike, so nice.”
”What a great kitty.” etc etc etc.
I know, people.  Why the hell do you think I’m hauling him across the earth?

12:00 p.m. – Back at the hotel, I’m calming down and ready to sleep a bit, but then the airline calls.  Long story short, I fight with them for a few hours because due to the July 4 weekend in the USA, no flights are leaving from Minneapolis to Saskatoon until July 6.  NWA refuses to pay for a hotel room for us for two days and Matt’s dad can’t be talked into driving 14 hours to hang out for a while.  I’m also wondering what we’re going to do with a cat for 2 days, because he certainly can’t stay in the kennel.  I fight a little more, demand I be delivered to Saskatoon that day and they better IMGP3044make it happen. 
July 4 – 3:30 a.m. - After some harsh words and a lot of phone calls, our flights have been fixed: they reroute us as far as Calgary, and my parents come to pick us up and drive us back to Saskatoon that night.  We arrived home safely, none of our luggage was lost and things are fine.

Meez turned out to be a wonderful traveler and despite the fact that he spent two full days in his kennel being in and out of hotels, airplanes, airports and taxis, he still loves it in there (see: left) and sleeps in it every night after he tires of laying on my sweater cushions (boobs).

Now that we’re home, the run-in with NWA is a distant memory, but I will never fly with them again.  It was especially frustrating because I did my job.  I called NWA a month ahead and asked about what I needed.  I emailed the Canadian embassy to ask about paperwork and I asked two different vets what we needed.  None of this was mentioned.  There was no way I could’ve avoided this situation, no matter how hard I tried.  And try I did, I covered all my information bases...  

Meez has found his favourite spot to sit in my parents’ house (below left) and he’s got about 50x more energy in this cool weather.  His fur is soft and clean and he’s excited to be alive (below right).

                    IMGP3040             IMGP3037

Of course, my luck ran out again, and this was all too good to be true.  He’s adjusting very well, but he’s making strange howling noises in his litterbox lately.  It sounds painful.  There’s no blood in his stool, but he really sounds like he’s in pain when he’s in there doing his thing.  He’s not constipated, but a treat disappeared off of the countertop this week and we can’t even find the plastic wrap.  So I’m wondering if he’s got that as a blockage and it’s causing him pain during bowel movements.  I’ve added some flaxseed oil to his food, and I’m going to be switching him back to a mixture of soft and hard food this week, see if that gets things moving for him.  If there’s still a bit of howling, I’ve read to add pumpkin to his food, so I’ll give that a try as well.  He might just be lacking fibre and it’s making his stools a bit too hard, thus causing the pain. 
I’m going to give him a week to try and straighten him out.  If the howling doesn’t stop, a vet visit might be in order.  He needs to be neutered anyway, I guess.  To quote a beautiful lady, he’s been rape meowing all over the place every day.  Misses his Thai bitches, I guess.  We’ll be moving him to a new place on July 25, and after that he should have some stability.  What a trip, I hope that cat knows what we went through to get him here.  I regret nothing.


Lojo Beautiful said...

I am very glad that you brought the Meez to Canada. He's looks so charming.

Are his pee clumps normal size? If they're smaller than normal then he probably has a urinary tract infection and I can give you wonderful advice as to how to get rid of it. I haven't had any pooh problems with the girls so I have no insight there, but it sounds like you're whipping out some grand cat lady remedies.

Glad you're all back in Canada and I hope the Meez feels better soon!

Lojo Beautiful said...

And you will have to take a break from moving for a drink on July 25th because that's the night I am in town. Holla.

twitch said...

It's hard to tell about the pee clumps, I've been trying to notice if it's poo or pee-related. I think it's poo, but I'm going to try to watch him more carefully. He has been drinking a lot of water, but he's in a drier climate. I've been drinking a lot of water too. It's tough to tell, it might be a urinary tract thing. Will this require a round of antibiotics? Matt also said he thought it might be kidney stones, because they had a cat that made weird noises and it turned out to be kidney stones because of cheap cat food. We obviously feed him the good stuff, but who knows what he was being fed by other people as a street cat. Anyway, they had to get their cat put down because the surgery to fix it was going to be so expensive... :S I'm crossing my fingers. He's a very vocal cat, so maybe his bowel movements just hurt him a little and he's letting everyone know.

We will try to get the majority of our moving finished as early as possible. We will absolutely meet up with you that weekend.

twitch said...

Would there be other symptoms if it were a urinary tract thing? Because apart from the weird noises and very foul-smelling poop, he's absolutely fine. Eating normally, very active, etc.

Lojo Beautiful said...

I originally thought it was a pooh thing with Snort, too, as I noticed that she frequently ran back to the litter box and seemed strained when she was trying to go. I thought she was just backed up. Then I noticed that she was only peeing about the size of a quarter (probably 1/4 the amount she usually pees). I worried and worried and debated taking her to the vet, but I did some research online and after sifting through all the OMG YOUR CAT IS GONNA DIE! crap I discovered that it was safe to give cat's cranberry extract, so I started mixing some in with her food. I also introduced some wet food into her diet so it would up her water intake. I encouraged her to drink (obviously) and let her play in the tap and stuff. Within 3-4 days she was back to normal and she hasn't had another since. As for behavior, Snort didn't seem too bothered by it, except for obvious discomfort when in the litter box. She continued to play and be active, which is why I didn't go running to the vet right away. Definitely do some litter box analysis and see what you can come up with. From what I've read, UTIs are quite common in cats. It would also make sense considering the traveling, change in climate, and (I assume) some change in his diet. He's probably just a bit out of wack.

I am looking forward to meet up time!

twitch said...

That's excellent advice. I switched him to a wet cat food mix today, but he does drink a lot of water on his own, so that's good.
Where did you find cranberry extract? Even if he doesn't have a UTI, that's a good thing to put in their food: antioxidants and what not. I'll give all this a try.

Most of the info on the internet screams "omfg find a vet right now or your cat is totally dead lol" but he doesn't have other symptoms of any severe problem. He's still active, his stomach isn't inflamed, no fever, no vomiting, just normal Meez. I'll try and track down some cranberry extract this week.

Lojo Beautiful said...


Fuck 'em. I will admit that I like vets just about as much as I like doctors. I find that they're best to avoid unless actually necessary. I am not too stoked about putting my cats on antibiotics unless it's dire. I read many accounts on the net about cat owners taking their cats back to the vet again and again for chronic UTIs and all they do is keep giving them antibiotics. I'd much rather just give my cat a dose of cranberry extract everyday.

I've been able to find cranberry extract just about everywhere: grocery stores, Zellers, Evil Mart, Shoppers. It's shoved in there with the supplements. Just make sure to get them in gel capsules so you can break them open and mix them in with the food. I mix it in with their wet food and they don't know the difference.

Let me know how it goes, fellow cat robot.

twitch said...

The cat wasn't making any noises yesterday, so I'd hoped the switch to wet food was enough. His stool has gone back to a more normal consistency, as it was looking a bit excessively solid before, but wouldn't you know it, tonight after round 1 of cranberry extract, ugh, the cat is making his noises
I'll continue with the extract in with his wet food. Quite honestly, I'd be more worried, but he's completely normal other than the litter box noises.
He still has lots of energy, he doesn't seem to be in pain any other time, his appetite is normal and he's not vomiting or cleaning his genitals excessively. There is still urine in his litter when I clean the box, so he's not suffering a blockage. I need Dr. House for cats.

twitch said...

Well it's official - it is definitely bowel-related. I don't know what the hell it is, but I'm not worrying about it anymore until he starts showing some other symptom of pain, since it doesn't seem like there's anything wrong with him at all.