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Postcards from London: Cats About Town

Airdate: January 24, 2013

            When I decided to move to England, I knew I could never live without my cats.  Or rather, I would never choose to.  I would do whatever was necessary to bring them here, and to make their overseas life as good as it could be.  I called them my International Cats of Mystery, particularly in reference to my older male cat, as the title seemed to fit his personality.  I think he would’ve preferred a little less mystery, and a little more of the stable comfort of the familiar.

            Both cats made the airline journey well, having travelled in a climate controlled area of the plane, separate from luggage or the noisy distractions of the passenger cabin.  We were reunited in a specially designated building at Heathrow Airport called the “Animal Reception Centre.”  Even though I had to wait over an hour for their paperwork to clear, I was assured that my pets were being fed, exercised, and generally looked after until I could claim them.  Considering the cost of shipping animals overseas, I should have hoped that they were reclining in the VIP lounge sipping cocktails upon arrival.

            I’m fortunate that my cats are not in the habit of holding grudges, and that they mostly live in the moment.  I’m not sure they even remember the international flight, or all the space we used to have in our Toledo home.  The first year in London was spent in a tiny efficiency apartment, what I called a glorified shoe box.  At least I could get out during the days—all Philo and Athena could do was jump up into the space-saving loft for a little variety.  I felt sorry for them, but they still seemed content to be with me. 

           We have since moved into a larger place across town, and they are clearly more comfortable now that they can run from room to room.  My male cat Philo rises early and practices his morning yeowling at the top of his lungs.  I’ve never figured out what purpose this serves, as he still never gets breakfast before 7am.  I used to think it was just because he just likes hearing the sound of his own voice.  This is a cat whose every move comes with an accompanying vocalization.  It’s endearing, unless it’s 4:00 in the morning.  Or on a bus to the vet.  Yes, that’s right, fellow passengers, that distressed yeowl coming from this carrier is my cat.  You might as well get used to it.  Sometimes I get sympathetic smiles.  Mostly just puzzled glances.  Once an older woman sat next to us, and told me a whole story about how she used to have cats but couldn’t anymore.  She clearly loved animals as much as I do.

           And love is what it requires to tote a whining animal four blocks to the bus, seven stops and four blocks more (a walk through the park to try and distract him), and about ten minutes at the vet for a quick shot only to turn around and go back again.  Philo has never minded actually being at the vet.  He loves wandering around, exploring new places.  It’s the travelling he hates.

           I sincerely hope the nuisance of airplanes, buses, and tiny apartments is outweighed by the simple fact that my cats get to live with me—no matter where in the world we are.  With one purring loudly on my chest and the other across my legs, I indulge myself in the belief that where human/feline relations are concerned, true love definitely goes both ways.

           — Wendy Sherer