Operation: Meow Move!

Operation: Meow Move was not the seamlessly covert endeavor I’d hoped it would be. There was no stealth. We were neither graceful nor inconspicuous. I do not have a future in feline smuggling.

Objective One: Recruit cats to come in from the backyard of my father’s house. I thought this part would be easy. It was a wet and drippy day, and I figured the cats would be glad to come in to a dry home. Just the other week I had gone over to pick up a gift from my Dad, and both cats seemed very happy to see me (or, perhaps more realistically, the cat food I’d brought with me). I thought food was all I’d need to woo them again yesterday, but I was wrong. It took FF’s patience, calm spirit, and cat-like reflexes to get them in from outside and then up in the living room where we had the carriers waiting for them.

Objective Two: Prepare cats for inter-borough transport. If you’re wondering cats (at least mine) don’t want to go into a carrier head first, however butt first is a bit more difficult for the person holding them. The girl seemed to accept her confinement with dignity (and she was the first one we got in). The boy on the other hand, would not go gently into that dark box. Usually silent (to the point where I was under the impression that he was mute) he began meowing as soon as his body was in the carrier. And once he started, his sister chimed in.

Objective Three: Drive the cats to our home. The I-don’t-like-this-carrier meowing turned out to be nothing compared to the oh-no!-this-carrier-is-moving meowing. They began to let out the type of loud plaintive wails that suggest your victim is being mercilessly tortured. And this sound carried. I was pretty sure that by the end of the day all four of us (humans and felines alike) would need intensive counseling and emotional rehabilitation. Once in the car, the wails decreased in their volume, but not in their pathetic heart-wrenching quality. I hoped (in complete and utter vain) that they would eventually quiet down, because once in Queens we were going to have to sneak them into the apartment. But that became a secondary worry for a moment when FF turned to me and asked, “What’s that smell?” Turns out we had literally scared the crap out of the boy. So now, not only was I worried about how loud they’d be as we tried to bring them in the front door and up five floors in our apartment’s elevator, but I was also worried about opening the carrier in our apartment and letting a scared and skittish poop-covered cat run around.

Objective Four: Get the cats into our apartment without being seen or heard. Ha! The cats didn’t stop crying the whole ride over. This was not going to be easy. FF went in alone to see if all was clear. I stayed in the car double-parked in front of our building. And that is where our super (whose permission we had not asked to bring the cats in) found me. He was heading to his car, and seeing me double-parked, wanted to let me know I could take over his parking spot. I kept close watch to see if his eyes would travel to the back seats of my car. They didn’t (as far as I could tell), and he didn’t ask why there were cat cries coming from behind me. We had put the cat carriers in laundry bags because we were under the impression that the cat would be less scared if they couldn’t see anything, so visually there wasn’t any clue I was smuggling animals, but there was an abundance of auditory evidence. In any event, I parked in his spot, FF came down to join me, and we took the cats out of the car. They hated being in the car, but clearly they hated having the carriers carried even more. As soon as they were outside, the volume and frantic quality of their cries became significantly more pronounced. They were in full wail mode, and there were three people standing in front of our building. So even though it was a more circuitous route, we decide to use the service entrance to our building’s basement (which meant we would have to travel up one more floor in the elevator). The elevator took forever to come, and while we were waiting, a man in the laundry room (who must have thought a small child was being viciously beaten) came to figure out what all the noise was about. So much for us going unseen and unheard. We got in the elevator and prayed that it wouldn’t stop on the ground floor to let someone on. And that was the only thing that went our way. FF and I each gave a shallow sigh of relief and proceed to race our feline contraband into our home.

And so went Operation: Meow Move. Now we’re in the acclamation process. The girl seems to be adjusting well, but the boy is exponentially more timid. He spent the first few hours under our loveseat, which given his massive size, and how close the bottom of the couch comes to the floor, took a lot of work on his part. I finally coaxed (actually pulled) him out, and though he was clearly unhappy to be where he was, he did love being petted (he is an affection glutton). I tried my best to clean him off, but he is still a bit smelly. When I was getting ready for bed last night, the girl was happy to follow me around and then sleep by our bed, but the boy stayed statue-like by his safe hiding spot. When I woke up at three this morning, she had clearly moved around, but he had not. I could barely make out the white part of his chest still there by the loveseat. I tried again to entice him, and I was able to get him to come to me. After that, they both spent the last few hours of the night under the bed. And that is where they are at this very moment. I’m pretty sure I overly anthropomorphize them (which is why I think things like, “Well, even in the move is hard, they will find comfort in each other’s company”), but I think she’s only there for him. She’s a good sister. She looks after him. FF thinks he’s retarded, I just think he’s fearful, but on the phobic side of the spectrum.

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