After ending the job-offer phone call, I enthusiastically screamed, “Hurrah” to Shadow. “I have a new job and we are moving.” Shadow looked at me as if she understood that our lives were about to drastically change. After a year of looking for work, we were about to move from the Pacific Northwest to Charleston, SC.
I immediately started “to do” lists with ”SHADOW” at the top. My intention was to drive, taking Shadow with me. When I brought Shadow to the vet and asked her what she thought, she immediately said “Shadow has to go with you!” She explained that Shadow would adjust to the car travel and spending nights in different hotels as she would be with me. However, if I left her with a neighbor, she would feel rejected and abandoned, especially since she was an older cat.
After I told my family and friends what the vet said, there was no more mention from them of Shadow not accompanying me. With my #1 priority worked out (more or less), I went about making plans for the move, finding an apartment on-line, working with a moving company and mapping out the trip.
Boxes began piling up and Shadow was an integral part of the adventure. She climbed on the boxes and seemed at times to be supervising the packing. Thanks to great neighbors, Shadow & I were able to leave the day prior to the moving company coming which made our departure less chaotic.
The Journey Begins …
Saturday night, I packed my Focus, putting luggage in the trunk which I would not open until we arrived in Charleston. The back seat had my overnight bag, laptop, and Shadow’s gear: disposable litter pans for each night at the hotels, food, toys, favorite blanket and cleaning supplies.
Early Sunday morning, I gave Shadow the tranquilizer the vet had prescribed and we set off on a beautiful, clear September morning. As the navigator, she was in her carrying case, in the front passenger seat. She meowed quite a bit as we commenced our journey, but later listened to music and my descriptions of the passing scenery.
On the first day, I noticed that Shadow was very stressed (from the tranquilizer?) and the next morning, she did not want to take it. And rather than forcing it on her, I thought OK, let’s see how she does. She was so much better … meowing a bit when we started off early in the morning, but then relaxing and intently watching me.
Our first two days were uneventful. We’d check into the hotel mid-afternoon and I’d bring Shadow into the room, let her out of her carrying case and then unload the back seat of the car.
On day 3, I did that and then realized that I did not see Shadow in the room. I panicked thinking that I’d driven half way across the country and had lost her! No Way! I looked under the bed, in the closets, checked the parking lot (had she gotten out when I was bringing things into the room?). I was in tears and then I heard a noise.
Yes, there was a meow coming from under the bed. But not really under the bed – instead, somehow Shadow, very petite Shadow, had gotten under the mattress. How did she do that?? I partially moved the mattress and she was able to get out. I left it like that until we left the following morning.
Thereafter, I brought Shadow into the room first, followed by all of our luggage and then let her out of her carrying case to explore. She loved the adventure of exploring a new room each afternoon and evening. She enjoyed looking out the windows and was especially fascinated if she saw birds or a dog. She slept next to my pillow and seemed to sense that we were getting closer to our new home.
Shadow meowed each morning as we left the hotel for the day’s drive and after a while, she became quiet, listening to the music. The only times that she meowed, loudly, were when we drive thru Kansas City and St. Louis. I think that she sensed that I did not like driving thru cities that were unfamiliar, especially when there was construction and detour signs.
Saturday morning we were close to Charleston. After breakfast, I went to put Shadow in the carrying case and could not find her. Now, where was she?? Shadow was hiding under the bed and I could not reach her. I found a broom in the hallway and coaxed her out, telling her that we were almost at our new home. That worked and she did not meow as we set out. Did she sense that we were almost at our new home?
Arrival in Charleston
A few hours later, we arrived in Charleston. I got the keys at the rental office and brought Shadow into our new home. She was busy exploring the apartment and screened balcony while I emptied everything from the car.
I had the week-end to explore the area, shop for food and buy two camping chairs. Shadow and I slept on sleeping bags as our furniture would not arrive for about a week.
To me, it was amazing how quickly she adapted to her new surroundings. She was a terrific traveling companion and it was a joy to watch her explore a new room each night and then adjust so rapidly to her new home.
She was open to new adventures, flexible to changes and remained her sweet self. Quite the lesson I thought. Would I do it again I mused as I settled into my apartment? My answer – an emphatic “YES, it was a marvelous adventure, traveling with Shadow and seeing so much beauty as we crossed the country.” And two years later, I returned to Washington with Shadow, but that’s another tale!
Tips: Traveling Cross County Solo with a Cat