A Personal Follow Up

Just in case you’ve missed the references in the past, Jenkins is my one-year-old, bat-eared, Balinese cat. Hes quite spoiled and he has all the survival instincts of a developmentally-challenged lemming. Hes also quite the character, as my friends in Tucson and Albuquerque can attest to.

The beginning of the adventure was when I discovered that the ticket to stuff Jenkins under the seat in front of me costs $15 more than my own. My friend pointed out after-the-fact that I should have just bought Jenkins his own seat. (Which, in fact, he ended up having anyway because the plane was so empty. We had a whole aisle to our self.) I have no idea why an airline feels compelled to charge $115 for the right to stuff a cat under a seat. I cant imagine they have much additional costs involved with having a cat there rather than a purse. Admittedly, they do have to track how many on-board pets they have so that they don’t inadvertently set one of their allergic passengers into an asthmatic fit. However, I suspect the pricing is a lot more about lets-take-advantage-of-a-captive-market situation.

Anyway, the next step in the adventure was getting Jenkins into his carrier the morning of the flight. James recently had to drop Jenkins off at the vet to get his teeth cleaned and the process took him 45 minutes. It was not at all pretty. (Believe me, I heard about it from both the boyfriend and the cat after the fact.)

So, needless to say, James was dumbstruck when I simply scooped up Jenkins, dropped him in the carrier, and smoothly zipped the thing up on the first try. I, of course, attributed this feat to my remarkable rapport with animals. The truth of the matter, however, is that Jenkins is less awake at 4 AM than most caffeine-dependent humans I know.

You better believe he woke up in a hurry after that, however. In his world, little black cat carrier = nothing hes going to like as a next stop. By the time I was ready to load the carrier into the car, it was busy bouncing around the living room as though I had the Tasmanian Devil packed inside, and the wails of dismay issuing from the carrier were fluctuating over a three octave range. I swear I could have opened the windows on my car and been mistaken for an emergency vehicle we were so loud.

Jenkins finally settled down about the point I reached the airport.

Checking him in was uneventful and even a little amusing when they issued him his own little kitty boarding pass. The security line was another story entirely.

I just want to go on record and say that whatever nimrod at Homeland Security who wrote the requirement that all pets now have to go through the metal detector with their owners has never had to stuff a hysterical seven-pound cat back into a carrier when they are quite clear about the fact that they didn’t want to be there in the first place.

I normally try to wear comfortable clothes when I fly. Based on my experiences this week, I don’t recommend this approach for anyone traveling with a cat.

Tuesday morning I was wearing a pair of yoga pants, a white tank top, and a hoodie. Never mind that I’ve been allowed through the metal detector wearing the same hoodie on multiple occasions before. This time I was asked to take it off. Because, God knows, on top of my Weapon-of-Mass-Destruction cat, I might have explosives or some such nonsense in the zipper of my hoodie.

Long story short, I normally only wear white tank tops under another piece of clothes in lieu of a bra, so I was showing a lot more skin in the security line than I felt comfortable. And then I had to pull Jenkins from his carrier. Jenkins clung to me for dear life as we went through the metal detector together. So there I was trying to cradle my cat to me with one hand and keep my tank top from being yanked down to my bellybutton with the other. I was only about half successful on both accounts.

Things only got worse on the other side, when it came to trying to get Jenkins back into his carrier. He was hanging on to my shirt for dear life and I just about lost my top entirely trying to peel him off my body, much to the amusement of the security guardsnone of whom were willing to offer any sort of assistance.

Ill be eternally grateful to the Texan businessman in the line behind me who helped me save what little was left of my modesty by helping me disentangle Jenkins from my shirt and get him back into his carrier. He kindly explained to me he had a cat back home he really missed but whom he suspected would be even less accommodating to flying than my little treasure. (Ladies, anyone who doesn’t think knights in shining armor can show up in Stetsons has never met this guy.)

Thankfully, the rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. Jenkins eventually reached the conclusion that things inside his carrier were far less scary that things happening outside. And by the second flight he’d recovered enough of his equilibrium that he worked his usually charm on the stewardesses. They actually offered to bring him his own beer when they caught me letting him sneak sips off mine and, at the end of the flight they awarded him plastic wings.

Suffice to say, by the time Jenkins and I reached my place, all either of us wanted to do was take a long nap which probably helped ease the transition somewhat to the floating home.