How to Traumatize Your Cat

Our happy little feline, Mohawk should be certifiable by now.  It's amazing he is even speaking to us. He didn't much anyway before.  Read and know, you must confine the cat(s) when moving.  

He was happy as a clam in Ohio.  Occasionally getting outside and roaming the property.  He could climb the wire fence like a champ when he wished even though it looked quite painful.  He rarely wandered further than the front yard, but occasional forays into the court were not unheard of.

On July 30th when we woke up, Mo knew there was something in the wind.  Half the furniture was in a giant truck on the lawn in the front yard and the house was full of echos.  I opened the front door to check the weather, forgetting that the glass door was still propped open as it had been for a few days while we moved furniture onto the truck.

He is a sneaky cat and was awaiting his chance. He was out of the door like a shot.  I wasn't worried.  He eats a dozen times a day and I would catch him when he was eating.  But alas the day waxed and waned and despite numerous calls and pleadings he was still not showing his face when the truck was closed and we were done.

We were scheduled to leave at 6:00 PM to meet up with the kids in Kentucky at 7:30.  They were helping us move our belongings in and doing the driving for us.  They were on a tight schedule and the truck rental was to be returned in less than 24 hours.  We hunted but could not find him still and so we regretfully left without him.  The neighbor would keep an eye out and William Jr. would take care of him if found.

He showed up the next day and for the next ten weeks lived a lonely life as the Lord of the Manor in our half empty house.  He was free to roam the entire house.  Windows were left open for him to sit in.  Food and water in plentiful supply in the empty kitchen provided by Will Jr. and Mo ruled the roost.  Only there was no one to rule.

All was well for a couple of weeks until James came back from tour and moved in.  He  surprised Mo with a new friend when he brought Macintosh home.   A feisty pup, Mac gave Mo grief with his friendliness.  He trotted around the house with a spring in is step, happy to have a big fluffy white toy to play with that played back.  Not always nicely, but Mac was too young to know that a swipe with clawless paws meant "No" so Mo was out pure of luck.  Mac became the new boss.

After a few weeks of 24/7 Mac, James and Mac moved into the new house that James bought.  Life was peaceful again.  Mo was Lord of All but it was getting very lonely.  He mewed at the window and took his provided food and water that James was now supplying for granted.  He shouldn't have.

Pre tour practices took James to Chicago for a week and so he made a trip over to see Mo and fill the water bowls and food container for the time he was to be away.  He went into the garage and didn't realize that Mo followed him in.  Unfortunately for Mo, he didn't follow him out.  James carefully locked the door and with duty done, he took off for Chicago.  Mo was stranded in the garage for a week without food or water.

Had it not rained that week, we might have lost him.  But it rained and rained and the water seeped in under the garage door.  I imagine crickets and spiders filled in for meat.   When a horrified James discovered him on the sixth day, he was eaten up with remorse as a "skinny" and weak cat emerged from the garage and attacked the bowl of Meow Mix.

I think James was equally traumatized.  He was very glad when we returned a few weeks later and took over.

 You would think that all would be well for Mo now that we were back.  Not so!  We were in and out, we slept elsewhere.  We had a hotel for the wedding, stayed with friends.  We were away all day and most nights.  He did have Gracie for company now but he followed us from room to room when we were there and became a lap sitter.  The nights we stayed, Mo slept with us and silently accompanied us from room to room.

After a month of this, we packed up the rest of our stuff and loaded the truck.  This time we took no chances and put Mo in the bedroom and closed the door as we moved in and out.  I put him in a harness with a light leash early that evening.  He wasn't happy.  William Jr came over and helped us make the final decisions on what to pack and to help us load.  We were ready to leave at 3:00 AM and I put him in his crate.  The cab of the truck was full.  Bill and I at either window, Gracie in the middle and Mo (in the crate) on my lap.  It was a nine hour drive and he was already yowling and angry.

William Jr. suggested breakfast first at the Awful Waffle so we left the pets in the car and filled up with coffee and a bite to eat before we set off.  The best breakfast ever!  Will said that perhaps Mo would be happier on my lap, so after breakfast we took him out of the crate and we waved goodbye to him and Huber Heights as we drove off.

Now Mo was really upset. He had never been loose in a moving vehicle.   He wandered all over the cab, especially wanting to sit on the gas pedal.  I was now covered with fur trying to contain him.  He tried to invade Gracie's space and got a nip for his efforts.  After an hour Mohawk was so upset he was biting me and we pulled over to get the crate out again.  Mo is a fighter, that's for sure! 

The nine hour trip to Shelly's house was twelve hours long but at least Mo's pupils were back to normal size and he was pretty quiet by the time we arrived.  That could have been from lack of food and water.  Don't judge, but we couldn't handle potty issues on top of everything else.  We went directly to Stage Road Animal Hospital upon arrival and boarded them both.

Since Mo has never been boarded, it was another adjustment for him.  He received, in addition to his new home away from home, shots and a full check up. I felt sorry for the vet!   We were sorrowful that he didn't know this was only for four nights but it couldn't be helped.  It was a great place but the fact was...we disappeared from his life again.

Four days later, the final leg was upon us.  It was ten hours, but this time Mo rode quietly.  He seemed just happy to be in our company.  I scratched his nose and cheek through the bars and woke him frequently when he slept to make sure he was still breathing.   He was too compliant for my taste and pretty darn heavy lying in the crate like a log.   Now, after 11 hours of driving he was arriving at his new home.  This was the final adjustment.  Final trauma. 

I was so happy to pull in and unload our big furry white cat into the screened in patio.  A litter box was provided, food and water.  Freedom to roam, new smells to smell, outdoor air, yet confinement.  This time with lots of space.  He was not going in the house until he used the litter box several times and understood where he lived.  He was not happy to spend his night alone once again, but I wasn't taking any chances with the new carpet.

Today he was allowed to roam the house!

Our cat was rescued eight years ago (the vet called him Lazarus, because he should have died at least nine times his first six months ).  He was brought to the vet as a kitten after he was abandoned and in some cat fights. He made it then, and now again, survived months of trauma and is now happily exploring his new digs.

                                                                   Viva Mohawk!


Wow, and I thought moving my two cats from California to Oregon was wild! Glad your fur guy made it, and hope you're all happy to be there!

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