Plane CATastrophe

The first time I took Simba outside even though he is supposed to stay indoors.

Last year, I couldn’t imagine myself being good with cats, let alone traveling all the way to California for one. 

Why California in the first place? Well, my family and I have been on and off about getting a cat ever since May. All I wanted was a kitten but my parents were very picky about the type of cat they wanted. It had to be a boy, no older than five months so they wouldn’t be afraid if he got to big, and lastly, he had to be from the Persian breed. It was impossible to find one locally so then we started looking at places nearby and that we were familiar with. We looked for kittens from Oklahoma, Arizona, even as far as New York but once we checked in California, we found the perfect one.

It’s July 26, and my dad and I are at the airport with nothing but our phones and a pet carrier ready to pick up our new family member. Since we flew standby, there was no guarantee we’d get the flight we wanted to board. This meant we had to keep checking what our status was on the list, and waiting for it to go from standby to confirmed was probably one of my biggest concerns throughout my day-trip.

A few minutes prior to boarding, my dad knew there was no way that we were going to be able to catch the flight to Orange County, so instead, he quickly switched us onto the flight going to Santa Ana, one hour away from where we were going to pick up our kitten.

When we reached Santa Ana, we had to get a last-minute rental car to get to the home where we were supposed to get our cat. The drive would’ve been conveniently ten minutes away if we were at the the Orange County Airport, but instead it ended up taking 52 minutes. We got into the car and sped through the busy California highways finally arriving at the home in which our kitten lived.

The moment I stepped through the door, part of me had wished that we’d missed the flight to Santa Ana due to second-thoughts weakening my reasoning for getting a cat. Questions raced through my mind: “Are we even cat people? We’ve only raised goats and chickens, what makes us think we can raise cats?”

Simba exploring my backpack while I was getting ready for school.

At first I couldn’t see the kittens, but then I saw one pop out from the side of the couch trying to run out and explore the rest of the house. At that moment I was terrified; I wanted to turn back and catch the first flight back to Dallas. But, for some odd reason I couldn’t move and I continued to stare at the energetic ball of fluff that struggled to get past our feet and finally stopped when he realized there were new people present in the room.

Curiously, he approached my dad and I and started to smell us, and then looked up with his exotic blue eyes. He wasn’t our intended kitten. In fact, our kitten was hiding underneath the couch and every time the owner tried to pull him out, the kitten would run back in while the other would roam around the room playing with random objects and trying to climb anything that he could reach.

After spending a few minutes attempting to lure my kitten out from underneath the couch, it was time to fill out paperwork for the new addition to our family. I began to reach underneath the couch to bring out the shy kitten, but my dad stopped me and suggested we take the blue-eyed for his playful and curious nature and that he was likely to adapt faster than the other.

We were wrong.

The moment we put him in the carrier and took him outside, he began “meowing” to express that he was uncomfortable. He continued to “meow” the whole 52 minute drive to the airport and kept going until he got tired out.

Our initial plan was to go to the house and pick up our kitten at 10 a.m. (PT) and then leave for the airport in time for our 12 p.m. (PT) flight so then we’d be back home 5 p.m. (CT). I was scared that he would get sick, hungry or might need to use the bathroom in that five hour period. Unfortunately, that was the best case scenario. We arrived at the gate on time and waited for our status to turn to confirmed on the monitor. This was when it all went downhill, because of our standby status we couldn’t get the flight and had to wait another two hours for the next one which we also couldn’t make.

Waiting for the next flight back to Dallas, my dad brought back some food which made me realize that our kitten, who required a stable diet, could be hungry too. We immediately contacted the previous owner who recommended to feed him raw chicken or fish which we frantically searched for around our terminal but failed to find, along with water which I couldn’t get the kitten to drink.

That wasn’t the end of my concerns, I slowly realized that he might have to use the litter box, which we didn’t bring because our intended travel plan would’ve gotten us home in time. Again, we had to contact the owner who suggested that we line the inside of the carrier with something because it was likely that the kitten would go inside the carrier.

It was finally time for our third attempt back home and I couldn’t keep my eyes off the monitor. Then I heard my last name being called to get our confirmed boarding passes. I picked up the carrier, disturbing the kitten from his nap, and proceeded down the jet bridge.

Before we made it onto the plane, one of the attendants announced that the passengers who they thought missed their flight were just late and ended up giving our seats to them. Now we only had one more flight to take us to Dallas that day, if we missed it, then we’d have to come back to the airport in the morning.

My favorite picture of Simba. Even though he has bright blue eyes, one of them remind me of the globe, especially when he is in the sunlight.

Luckily, we ended up getting on the last flight back home. In the airplane, I rushed to my seat and then put the kitten in the seat between my dad and I, but the flight attendant instructed us to put him underneath the seat in front of us which was the seat right next to the loud engine. As we took off, the engine was so loud I couldn’t hear anything except for the high pitched noises which were coming from my kitten who was clearly not happy with the situation. Just like in the car ride, he didn’t stop crying, although it calmed him down when I tried to pet him through the bag.

I don’t remember the flight feeling long or tiring because the way back all I focused on was getting our kitten home safe, what I do remember is the relief I felt when we finally arrived in Dallas and 30 minutes later, back home.

We left the house thinking we’d come back around 5:30 p.m. but ended up coming home at 12:30 a.m. Although it was my kitten, who we now call Simba, who suffered most through those 10 painful hours, the stress about his well-being made this trip my worst yet.