PASSPORT TO TRAVEL
I like to be prepared. So while we have no trips pending, and certainly no trips pending with cats, we were getting Allegra’s passport so that if and when we had the bat sh!t crazy idea to travel with a cat … or cats … we’d be ready.
Duchessa had been an exemplary traveling companion.
So far, no cat has volunteered to be the Travelling Cat.
So far, no cats have said, “take my sister, please” or “pleeeeze take my mamma because she drives us cra-cra when you’re gone.”
The rules to get a passport are straightforward. Microchip … rabies vaccination … inspection. But in Italy, rules are interpreted, re-interpreted, redefined, expanded, changed depending on (1) maximum number of steps to follow, (2) whim, (3) una manovra, (4) all of the above.
First, a microchip. Easy … our wonderful vet does this when the kitty is sedated for spay/neuter. Next, a rabies shot. Easy … the kitty barely leaves the carrier. Last, an appointment to get the passport. Not easy. Our three cats who preceded Allegra … Duchessa, Bailame, Annie … each took different sets of steps.
It was with Duchessa that we discovered our friend, Sylvia, works at the national health office for pets. Yep, Italy has a branch of this agency for animals.
For Duchessa, we went to the local office to make an appointment, and returned … with Duchessa … on the designated date for the inspection and passport. The only glitch was that they said they didn’t have the vet’s certificate of vaccination … probably because they didn’t bother to look on their computer. So we had to go back to the vet, get a print-out, and return (a few days later) to the office.
Duchessa used her passport to go on trips to Germany/Switzerland/Austria and to Florida. Entering the Swiss border, we were expecting to be stopped. But they waved us through. We joked that the guards saw us and said, “That couple is traveling with a cat. They have paid enough, let them pass.”
For Bailame, we had to go to an ASL office 45 minutes away. But … one had to call a specific number (one where the caller has to pay!) only in the morning and wait on hold to talk with someone to make that appointment. This time, I came with the vet’s print-out.
For Annie, I called to make an appointment. And called again. And again. Either there was no answer or, worse, we were on perpetual hold. Finally, we went to the local office … only to be told that the original system was back in place. That’s the moment I had an epiphany … I stood there and laughed. “Another story,” I said to David.
So a few days later, we returned with Annie and the vet’s print-out for the inspection and passport.
Read all about it in EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN.
Now it was Allegra’s turn. I was expecting a change. Maybe going into Florence … possibly waiting while paperwork was sent to, and approved by, Rome. All red tape leads to Rome.
Instead of calling, we went to the office. After chatting with Sylvia, we made an appointment. That was easy … too easy. On the designated day, we got Allegra into the carrier without too much ado. We arrived at the office without any ado.
“So, do you have the receipt for payment?”
I had forgotten to ask the amount, but no problem. We have cash and will pay it now. Oh no … you must go to the big red machine at the hospital, and pay it there. Just bring us the receipt. We asked Sylvia if she’d watch Allegra while we went the ½ mile to the hospital. 58.02 euros later, we returned to the office. And Allegra got her passport.
Fast forward, and Hayden is fixed. And chipped. Then vaccinated.
Two weeks later, Betelgeuse … at the tender age of 9 months! … goes into heat. Boys surround the house … including her dad (who was not there to glare at gentlemen callers and make sure they had good careers before going on a date). The next day, she was spayed. And chipped. Then vaccinated.
A month later, we headed back to the office to make an appointment. And now I ask, “What’s the fee? … Ok, please write that down for me so I don’t forget.” Still 58.02 euros.
The day before the double appointment, I call to cancel … human commitments had priority. But there was no appointment on their books. Glad we didn’t show up … two cats in the car … only to be turned away.
Since only Aurora remained to be spayed, chipped, vaccinated, we decided to wait. Then make one trek a trois. Let’s see what those procedures will be.
Aurora went into heat the day before friends Joan and Leslie are arriving. We picked them up at Santa Maria Novella … direct from the magic of The Last Supper and the majestic of Milan’s Duomo … and immediately told them our equally memorable plans for the afternoon … we’re taking our kitty to the vet at 3.00 and picking her up at 6.00. Good times.
I made dinner at home.
Aurora was fine, wobbly on her feet from the sedative. But at midnight, I noticed blood on her belly. CatCon 4 … heightened alert. I blotted it up, the stitches were not bleeding … but as I sat on the couch, holding Aurora on my lap, David & I agreed that we were going back to the vet at 10.00 when he opens. We’d keep her inside the house and not give her breakfast (in case she needed to be sedated) … to make sure she was ok.
But at 9.45 in the morning, Aurora was nowhere to be found. All closets and hiding places, even those in plain sight, were searched and re-searched. Under furniture. Baskets. On top of tall furniture. Corners. Outside, we called her name, in case she had jumped out of an accidentally-open window onto the little roof above a door, then down into the yard.
“AU-RO-RA!” “KI-TTEN!” I heard my voice carry across the vineyard. I stood at the upstairs windows and called again … hoping my voice would carry further.
I tapped a can of food with a spoon. I shook the container of crunchies. I did the UCLA 8-clap.
The vet closes at 1.00. I called him to explain what was going on … and he assured me that since the incision was not continuously bleeding, I needn’t be too worried. Bring her in when you can. I was relieved, but as a mom, still had heightened concerned. CatCon at level 3.
David walked down the road toward the woods calling her … with the container of crunchies. I stayed at home, in case she returned.
And then, as I puttered around the kitchen, there she was sitting in the dining room. Innocent. “Here I am.” She was in the cat carrier before she knew it.
I called David, who hurried home. We hurried into the car, hurried to the vet. All fine, just a little liquid at the site, no need for alarm. Sigh of relief. CatCon back to 0.
(It seems that for a few moments, one of the windows had been open … and our little patient took the opportunity to have an unauthorized and anxiety-filled adventure.)
A couple of weeks later, Aurora went for her rabies vaccination.
We made a triple appointment. A few days in advance, we went to the red machine at the hospital and paid the fee. On the date, we headed to the office … kitties crying, in three-part harmony, in the backseat … as we drove into town. One by one they were inspected and one by one their passports were issued.
We still have no volunteers to be the Travelling Cat. But we’re ready.
MY CHRISTMAS COOKIES
These are the Christmas cookies I made as a little girl. The decorations were always assorted sprinkles … and I continue that simple tradition (rather than using fancier frostings). I’m happy I still have the cookie cutters and spatula!
8 oz. butter, soft
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups flour
½ tsp. baking powder
Sprinkles for decorating
- Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C). Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with silpats.
- In large bowl, cream butter, sugar. Then mix in egg and vanilla.
- Stir in flour and baking powder to make a dough.
- Chill for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Using about ⅓ of the dough at a time, roll on a lightly floured surface. I like them about ¼ inch thick, but you can make them as thin as ⅛ inches or thick as ½ inch.
- Cut into desired shapes, and place on cookie sheets.
- Decorate with sprinkles (or an egg wash for shiny cookies).
- Bake for about 10 minutes … depending on thickness … until just lightly golden.
- Makes 30 to 45 cookies, depending on thickness and size of the cookies.