Road Trip, Part 4: A Tale of Three Kitties

The day after our drive down from the UK was the day to pick up the cats with our destination a service station on the A9 just outside of Narbonne. The Garmin reckoned it would take one and a half hours to get there so we needed to be up and out for 8am to make the 9.30am pick up time that Stacey from Pets2Go2 had texted to me the night before. That was no mean feat given how tired we were after three very busy days and as many late nights, but we’d all slept really well so managed to get up in good time. Unfortunately, due to the two-child effect and a general go-slow on all our parts, we didn’t quite make it out of the door at 8am, which meant we were running late before we’d even got started. The Garmin ETA was now 9.48am. Oh well, at least it wasn’t sending us anywhere silly; after the interesting navigation preferences it had shown us the day before we were prepared to override any odd suggestions as they came up and I was armed with the map, albeit the “faulty” Michelin one. So we were running late but at least we were on our way and DD was excited about picking up the cats.

As we were going along I got a text from Stacey: “Services heading south,” to which I replied, “towards Barcelona?” Yes, that was right. All fine, until I realised that the services we were aiming for were north of Narbonne, which meant we were heading North and not South at all. How could that happen? James was adamant that he had programmed the co-ordinates they provided into the Garmin and that they took us to a Total petrol station on the northbound carriageway but my text from Stacey suggested otherwise. So we added another 10 minutes to the journey time which meant we were now beyond acceptably late. To add to the general level of tension, DD decided she had had enough of all the driving and travelling and was also pretty hungry so spent the last 30 minutes of our journey screaming and shouting her head off (“I want booooobbeeeeeeee!!!!!”). DS also woke up crying (also hungry and probably furious about waking up in the car again) so we were all feeling pretty traumatised when we finally pulled into the services.

The Pets2Go2 van was there, ready and waiting, albeit not all that patiently (the driver made a snarky comment about them now being 30 minutes late for their next stop) and the cats where sitting happily enough in their cages. Bitty was already in his carrier so was easy to collect. James put the other two in theirs and moved the cats over to our car while I dealt with the two screaming smalls. James then dashed into the services to pick up some emergency croissants and a couple of coffees, as we hadn’t had chance to eat anything, after which we were off again. The cats were happy enough – quiet for most of the way and not bothered by a 10-minute stop to pick up some supplies from the supermarket – and both smalls were happy again, having been fed. Phase 2 over, time to relax a little more.

Once back at the gite we released the cats into their new home and put our feet up. It was a scorching 32 degrees outside, 28 degrees inside. Star and Ty took to the stairs and just crashed out, spending most of the day asleep there, while Bitty managed to disappear within an hour of being in the house. How does he do that?! The only other mishap that day was DD getting bitten by the Bitty after trying to persuade him out of his hiding spot. You’d think she’d learn – or at least heed our warnings! Other than that it was wonderful to at last take a breathe and gather ourselves together, reunited after our long journeys. I enjoyed an afternoon nap with with the smalls and pottered around with them while James sorted out the Broadband Guy. More about that another time.

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Pet Passports – done!

We’re just back from the vets after getting everything sorted for the pet passports. Three rabies jabs and a microchip later we’re £300 lighter but good to go. The cats all seemed pretty happy in their carriers (cheepo ones from PetsAtHome, recommended by the pet courier) so that’s quite reassuring. Now to book the courier.

We deliberated for a while about transporting them ourselves, either in a van (along with all our belongings) and convoying with me in the car with the kids or – if we decided to use a removals company – in the car with all of us. The van option looked risky – more about that in a future post – so we thought maybe it would be fun if we all travelled together in the car. But three cats and two young kids on a 16-hour drive, seriously? That would mean three animals that will want to get there as quickly as possible versus two small children who don’t want to be in a car for more than a couple of hours at a time, equating to two anxious, irate parents up front trying to block out the screaming and yowling. Not in a million years, thank you. Having looked at a few pet courier companies we’ve decided to go with Pets2Go2. They have a very transparent looking website with nice clean vans and their communication has been excellent. It won’t be cheap but we decided they will at least travel down in a safe, pet-centric environment and be well looked after leaving us to focus on our human passengers. It also mean we’ll be relieved to see them when we pick them up rather than so strung out from the journey that we struggle to give them the reassurance and attention they need. H, for one, will be so happy to reunite with Bitty after a couple of days separation. She’s mad about that cat – “he’s my best friend” – and I suspect he’ll be pretty pleased to see her too.

It’s going to be the longest journey they’ve ever made by car, as it will for us all! It will be worth it though. What could be nicer for a cat than living somewhere without cars, surrounded by open fields (so same as here) and with sunshine (accompanied by heat – so nothing at all like here) most days? I like to think that Star can live out her last days snoozing in the shade while Ty and Bitty rough up the local rodent population before sleeping it off on the roof somewhere. There are a few neighbourhood kitties for them to contend with but I’m sure any territorial spats can soon be settled. And they will, for the first time, be able to experience hot terracotta tiles. Now if were a pussy cat I’d quickly forgive my owners the indignity of being stuck in a small cage for the best part of 48 hours knowing that was what they had in store for me. They’ve been stuck inside here for the best part of 48 hours thanks to the relentless rain – and there’s no end to that in sight!

One more practical consideration though: insurance. Can that be transferred or do we have to cancel? Currently two out of the three cats are insured (Star isn’t). That’s more than paid for itself and with the two boy cats I’d be nervous about not having it so something else to look into!