Outside of the stress of packing up our entire apartment in Berkeley and planning on an international move to Turkey, we had to plan for a cross-country move to Minnesota, wherein our two kitties (George and Stamos) would be pawned off on my brother Bengi for the year. With the confluence of these MAJOR LIFE STRESSORS, Mary and I were running on about four hours of sleep per night during our last week in the Bay Area. Let me preempt all of the parents out there by saying yes, you all got waaaay less sleep than us for an entire presidential term, but keep in mind we were going to bed after many, many, moving beers each night.
I’ve done the cross country move from MN – CA once before with the kitties, and they were pretty well-behaved. Other than Stamos getting a wicked case of pinkeye in Little America, Wyoming, it was smooth sailing. *
This time, we left Berkeley at 6am, destination Mormonopolis Salt Lake City. We had a crate for the cats, but I opted not to use it, since the cats had been free to roam in the car on previous car trips. I thought nothing of their incessant whining and moaning until Stamos started to foam at the mouth. Like, Ol’ Yeller, long, syrupy strands of muzzle lather. George wasn’t drooling, but kept putting her stupid face up to my ear and screaming.
Since Mary can’t drive a stick, I was doing all the driving, while she was wrangling pussycats. Three hours into our fantastic voyage, cruising on I-80, Stamos abruptly stopped pacing in the limited space left in the car. She turned away from us, as if to look homeward wistfully, braced her legs, and shat feline soft serve all over my suitcase. Mary saw the whole/hole thing happen. At the same time, a deer decided to sprint to the median on the other side of the freeway, pause, and make a move like it was going to jump right into our path. I had white-knuckle adrenaline shakes on top of the poo-nami happening in the backsteat. Mary contorted her body in order to climb back and clean up the mess. As soon as she squirmed back to the front, Stamos began barfing everywhere. Being geniuses, we said “Hmmmmm, she must be car sick.” We pulled into a pet store somewhere around Lake Tahoe and bought pet mess spray, cat calming drops, a cat calming collar, and put the cats in the carrier. It was a bit more settled down after that, but we soon realized that Stamie had stress-peed little puddles all over the floor mats in the back, like when a lady jumps on a trampoline. The car smelled really amazing for the rest of the drive.
I still miss those cats (except for George…she’s the worst). You know what kinda sorta assuages the cat pangs? The millions of street cats in Turkey. They. Are. Everywhere. On cars, under cars, in trees, in bushes, under stoops, on balconies, at restaurants, in your windowsills, everywhere. It’s considered a positive character trait to feed street cats, and there are even designated cat feeding troughs around cities. My aunt gets street cat food from the vet when her cat has to go for an appointment. Sadly, many people will just abandon their housecats to the outdoors when they move away or go away for the summer. (Cue Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.”) You can tell these cats by their nice grooming and general cleanliness. Street cats tend to be really lean, a bit mangy, and many have krusty kitty konjunctivitis, like what Stamie had.
Dogs are everywhere, too. Really healthy mutts abound. They’re all partially Anatolian Sheep Dogs (the dog breed Hugh Jackman’s character had to take care of in Kate & Leopold) along with general muttiness. Local city organizations (manned by Turkish Leslie Knopes) tag and vaccinate the dogs and you don’t have to worry about a pack of angry dogs ripping you to shreds, Django-style.
*I had some amoxicillin tablets purchased in Turkey the year before, because you can buy all sorts of awesome pills over the counter. I’m not one of those horrible people that doesn’t finish their course of ‘biotics and creates supergerms! Honest! I had picked up a few packs in case I got strep or something in the US. My dad suggested I give Stamos a weight-adjusted amoxicillin dose. If an average person weighs 150 pounds (outside of American red states, of course), and Stamos was about 15, then you’d just have to crush up the pill, halve it, halve the halves, and then halve the half-halves that to get pretty close. PET PHARMACIST! Thursdays on CBS!