Flying With a Cat

I don’t recommend flying with a cat in cabin but I couldn’t risk some careless airline employee accidentally opening her crate in cargo or worse yet, on the landing strip and my cat being lost at the airport, so I made the decision to keep her under my care and control (for better or for worse).  Our journey began Saturday, August 6, 2016 at 10:40 am with a tearful goodbye to my good friends Amanda and Mike and their pets Ridley and Carl.  I must say that for me, the last week I had in the States was an incredibly weepy time intermixed with times of being completely in the moment (which I usually only have during some of my longer runs—although those “in the now” moments during running are not usually very pleasant ones).

So back to the cat and the trip and the day that dragged on and on and will forever be etched in my memories.  We departed Boalsburg, PA, in our Enterprise rental car (a maroon Chrysler 200) at approximately 10:40am.  The cat started screaming (as was customary) but I began to think our journey might not be so bad after all, as she seemed to accept her fate by drifting off to sleep, her hoarse meows silenced by her heavy breathing.  What I remembered google maps had told me was to be a 3 hour trip had changed into a 4 hour trip due to heavy Saturday traffic. We were an hour late to return the car, and I had worries of being charged an extra $100 fee for having a pet in the car (which was written on the contract as a no-no) plus I had to find a luggage cart somewhere to get 2 suitcases (one of which was over the limit of 51 lbs) and a box (with my boyfriend’s dg basket for putting practice at home) from the car to the AirTran which would take us all to the airport.

Luckily, one of the Enterprise employees, Darin, offered to help me get my luggage from the car to the AirTrain.  Sunset, slung over my shoulder in her soft carrier, protested the entire situation vehemently.  By this time, I was just saying a prayer to myself that everything would go okay when I checked both she and the luggage in at the SAS desk.  There were no hiccups there and we proceeded to security.  I told the person I had a cat and I was informed that I had to take her out of her carrier and hold her through security.  When you open your carrier in an airport surrounded by strange noises and lots and lots of people, the cat does not want to come out of her carrier.  I had to ask the TSA employee to hold the carrier while I dragged my kitty out.  Luckily she clung to me tightly as I held a firm grip on her kitty harness.  Because I was holding a cat the TSA attendant had to wipe my hands for gunpowder residue because they didn’t make us go through the metal detector—after that we were free to go.  Sunset eagerly returned to her kitty bag.  I then had time to kill so I sat down in a bar with Sunset’s bag across from me on the other bar stool and sipped a beer, while I watched US Women’s soccer on the television screen.  While at the bar, I peeked into the cat carrier and Sunset was lying on her side, not moving (I freaked that the stress of it all had killed her but then I could make out she was breathing. I feared the dehydration had gotten to her so I filled the syringe my friends had given me to administer liquid Benadryl to her and forced some water into her mouth. With this, she lifted her head).

When you bring a pet into the cabin your seat is assigned for you so I had to go to the desk at the gate to get my seat assignment.  Luckily the customer service rep remembered us from check-in and she was very sweet about me bringing a kitty on board.  In line to board, everyone around had to ask what I had in the carrier…I think most people go “ooh” and “ahh” over puppies and dogs but not so much over cats. Though I definitely feel like bringing a kitty on board was a conversation starter.

All of this time Sunset was a trooper.  We boarded, I put her carrier under the seat and settled in.  The airline had placed me beside a family with a 2 year old.  I guess they figured if my cat was noisy and the child was noisy, we’d both just have to deal with each other.  It came time for takeoff and the buckle seatbelt sign was not lit up.  15 minutes passed and the captain came over the speaker that we have now shut down the engines because there is a problem we need to take care of before we can takeoff.  After an hour, another announcement that there was a problem with the computer and they had tried restarting it twice; they would give it one more try.  By this time, I was worried my cat’s patience would wear thin.  Soon after though, the engines started and the captain said it was a go.

I thought flying with my cat was a breeze until about 4:30am Norway time (10:30 pm EST) when the girl in front of me started looking under her seat and realized my cat’s hoarse meowing had caught the attention of everyone around us.  I reached into the carrier to see if petting would calm her down and to no avail. So then I felt around to see if her puppy pads were wet or worse yet she had pooped.  Puppy pad was wet so I pulled it out and went to the lavatory to dispose of it.  Upon my return, Sunset was thrashing about in the carrier (I think the tight quarters for 12 hours had gotten to her).  I tried covering her carrier, not covering her carrier, petting her, leaving her alone and finally just had to give up worrying about her and let her do what she had to do.  The next 4 hours were the longest 4 hours…I couldn’t fall back to sleep and I was worried about her and everything we had to do before we saw Glenn at Gardemoen Airport.  Upon arrival at the airport, we had to wait in line at Passport Control, where you tell them how long you plan to stay and what you are doing in Norway.  At that time, I found out that Sunset and I would have to go through customs where a vet would have to sign off on her paperwork.  But first, I had to manage to lift and maneuver the 2 heavy suitcases and 1 disc golf box and then push luggage cart/carry kitty to customs.  At customs, I was told that because I hadn’t scheduled an appointment with the airport vet that I’d have to wait for her for up to a half hour.  It took every bit of the half hour for her to arrive, but when she did, the paperwork was on point and Sunset and I were free to enter the country…and to see Glenn!  My honey had rented a car to drive us from the airport so we didn’t have to deal with luggage and cat on the train and then bus (which is ordinarily how we get home from the airport).  It was lovely for the entire ordeal of moving and flying with Sunset to finally be over and I never slept better than I did Sunday night.

Because I am in training for the Oslo Marathon—which by the way is on 2016/09/17—I had to get back on schedule with my running.  And so, on Monday, I went for my long run of 18 miles/30 km along Akerselva (Aker River) all the way up to its origin, which is Maridalsvannet (Lake Maridal).  Maridalsvannet is the source of water for all of Oslo (very tasty water I might add) and so no one is allowed around it—it’s fenced off from the public.  Past the lake, were wild red raspberry bushes galore—not the wine berries I was accustomed to in Pennsylvania—but real juicy red raspberries like you get at the store.  That, and that alone, is reason enough to keep me here (my boyfriend’s the bee’s knees too).  And the trail past the lake toward the town of Hammeren is so remote there are piles of elk dung on it! I love running here!

As soon as I got here I had to make an appointment at UDI so that I can apply for (and hopefully receive) the skilled jobseeker’s residence permit; which will give me 6 months to look for and find a job using my master’s degree, meaning I can’t take an unskilled job such as waiting tables or making coffee. For my appointment, in order to receive a residence permit, I have to have copies of my passport (to show where I’ve been), my college transcripts, a letter from Glenn saying I have a place to live, my bank statements showing I have the equivalent of 118,000 NOK (which is the Norwegian currency) to live off of for 6 months, and a filled out application with things such as my parent’s names and address.  If all goes well at my appointment on Monday, I will be granted a temporary residence card.


Sunset (my black shorthair cat) and Uncle Gray (Glenn’s gray longhair cat) have not hit it off.  Well, on  Thursday morning I did something stupid and am still paying the consequences.  Uncle Gray has been spending more time than usual outside (because he doesn’t like Sunset) and so, when he’s in we try to keep him around because his dad misses him. He has access to the great outdoors through a window. Well I made the mistake of letting him into the room where Sunset was and they began hissing at each other.  Then I could see Uncle Gray was headed toward the open window to take off again. I reached down to try to grab him and got bit in two separate places on the wrist.  I of course let him go and he made a dash for the window.  Immediately the one puncture wound hurt like hell and took maybe an hour to stop bleeding.  I cleaned it off with running water and applied an antiseptic spray.  It wasn’t until Thursday night that it started swelling but the one hole was still open and discharge was coming out so I thought it’d eventually heal up on its own. By the next morning however, there was tingling in my fingers and my hand had swelled up so large I couldn’t recognize it. The skin was inflamed.  I put off going to the medic because I don’t have insurance and was afraid how much it’d cost.  So in one last ditch effort I took a sewing needle and opened up one of the puncture wounds to squeeze more puss out of it.  I only succeeded in making it worse, however and finally in the afternoon when it hurt too much to do anything with it, I asked Glenn what he’d do and he told me to go into the emergency room. So we spent Friday evening at the Legevakt and I was sent off with a prescription of antibiotics (which hopefully kick in soon s I’m still dealing with an infected hand).  Wondering how much that trip to the dr. is going to cost….if I had a fulltime job in Norway I’d have free healthcare but right now I’m still just a tourist.