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Moving Tigger 3000km

It was March 15th, 1995, and my requests to my Dad regarding a cat for my birthday were finally going to pay off. On that day, the assistance of my sister with this matter resulted in my Dad handing over to me a small orange cat, he was in a laundry basket at the time. A photo of Tigger on that day is below.
He was so tiny, and I sincerely think the only reason I received Tigger is because my parents had just been through a divorce which was life altering to begin with, and part of this was that my brother Paul had also moved out of the house. So Tigger was in a sense my new companion that would help me deal with these troubling times that no child can understand.

Over the years, everything I did involved Tigger. Working in the garage, watching TV, talking on the phone, playing computer games, meeting Andre's dog, decorating the Christmas tree, cleaning the litter box. Tigger was always there, a part of the family, although his ownership was always said to be mine.

Eight years after I received Tigger, I finished grade 12 and it came time for me to go off to University. Originally I was going to live with my sister Tanya where Tigger was also going to move, but eventually after much negotiations it was decided I was going to live in the student residences, without Tigger. Throughout University, it was logistically impossible to bring Tigger around since no housing allows cats, and the move every four months would have never suited a cat.

In February 2008 I received a phone call advising me that Tigger was very sick. He had mucus in his nose, eyes, and was having a lot of trouble breathing.  We figured it would cost about 500$ to perform x-rays and blood work. Veterinary bills are very expensive and there was no way I was going to be able to handle this. After diagnosing his problem to an unknown virus, an enlarged heart, as well as fluid in the lungs, I considered the whole thing to be over. I paid most of this cost and received the rest of the amount as part of my birthday gift. I figured that Tigger hadn't cost more money than what his food or litter was worth in the entire 14 years (aside from the food bowl he literally wore out). The vet said that Tigger had to fight off the unknown virus by himself, using antibiotics to support his immune system. I thought that the odds of this working were slim because after all, Tigger had been weakened by other factors, one of which being age and the fluid in the lungs. Miraculously, Tigger survived the ordeal and lived to walk and show off his surviving esteem. Me, thinking I would never see Tigger again, was lucky enough to see him in June, and what a long wait it was. By this time though, I had secured a job in Fort McMurray, and was certain that Tigger would have to stay in Timmins because moving over 3000 km for a well established cat with heart problems was a big no-no. Even if he would survive the move, he would detest his new home, 4 times smaller than the existing one, and smelling like 2 massive dogs.

However, I was informed that the cat had to come with me, since, as though this was my child, it was about time I took over responsibility for my baby. I was devastated and was convinced that my life would be ruined after playing Doctor Death with the life of my cat. I would have to ship Tigger via Air Canada Live Cargo, and hope the ride did not kill him, and then have to deal with Tigger's expression of the dislike his new place.

I went through the entire summer scared for my life about the future of my cat. Literally, extremely sad about what would suddenly happen to a living being who, up to now, had loved his life. All of a sudden, he would be taken, put into a plastic box, and sent to his doom. I really had no choice, except if one considers giving Tigger away a humane choice - which it isn't. I started researching ideas about moving older pets over long distances. I found a lot of information regarding moving with pets, the only problem was that none of this convinced me that Tigger would not oppose it. No matter what I read, I just did not believe that Tigger wouldn't hate it more than anything in the world.

So I booked the Air Canada Live Cargo shipment, only to find out that instead of 5 hours, which was the shorter route, he would have to be subjected to 14 hours of travelling. He would have to go from Timmins to Toronto, then to Calgary, and finally to Fort McMurray. All stops had to have a minimum of 2 hours delay between each to ensure a successful transfer. I was pretty livid after finding this out, since there was the better 5 hour option except the Fort McMurray Cargo Receiving closed slightly too early to accommodate. I booked this route, having no other choice. I specifically booked it for a Friday, to ensure that I would have the weekend with Tigger to let him know that there was someone familiar in this house. We prepared his food, water, litter box to make him feel as much as home as possible. Some of the suggestions said to have the household as setup as possible to make the cat feel more secure, so we tried getting everything we could in place before his arrival on September 19th.

I had also read that it was a good idea to bring the cat around in the cage so that he would get used to it, which is common sense anyway. So, when I was in Timmins at the end of August, the first thing I did was put his cage where his food and water used to be, and put the two dishes inside the cage. He went right in to eat and drink. Then, I made sure to load Tigger up in the cage and take him around for a ride. The first and second third rides went pretty well, since we did not go far at all. The rides were at most 10 minutes, with the third one being slightly further from the house. Then, on the fourth ride I decided I would bring him to the cottage to show him another house and that there existed other households. As soon as we left the house, I am quite sure Tigger got the hint that I was nervous, and that this ride was going to be longer than the others. He started twisting his nose in the bars of the cage, and his nose started to bleed. It was one of the saddest things I've ever seen, so I turned the truck around, almost started crying, and drove back home. I wiped off his nose, told Tigger I had to do this to him, and we got back in the truck and drove off. I figured out that by sticking a finger in the cage he would rub the finger and it would be fine. We got to the cottage, Tigger got out of the cage, explored for about 2 minutes, then got back in the cage, ready to go back home. So, we drove back, and that was the before last ride we took. The last ride consisted of me and my dad driving around town with Tigger in the back, after Tigger got his shots (first time in 10 years).

So, on September 5th, I left Tigger, thinking with high probability that I would no longer see him again. I gave him a hug, only for him to get annoyed and run away. I told myself I had made the most of my visit and had a ton of photos, so it would be alright. I left a very detailed set of instructions about how to prepare the cage for Tigger. I specified absolutely everything because if the travel had any chance of going well, the details had to be followed.

On September 19th, I knew in the morning that Tigger was being sent off. At 9AM EST, Tigger was being brought to the airport in Timmins by my dad, the person who had for so long joked that he did not want the cat around. I know deep down inside, although he hasn't told me yet, that he was very sad on that day. Who was more sad than him though, was me, thinking that I was ruining my cat's life on this day. At work, I told my boss to possibly not expect me at work Monday because if my cat got a bladder infection I would have take him to the vet. I had everything planned out. That day was one of the slowest passing in my life. I knew that for Tigger it had to be going by slowly as well. At 8:30 PM MST (10:30 EST), Tigger was scheduled to arrive at the airport. Allison and I drove to the airport, anxiously awaiting one orange cat off of this plane. The first thing I wanted to check was that Tigger's heart was still beating.

After a small delay which felt infinitely long, I heard Tigger coming through a set of doors, I heard a loud meowwwww, followed by a few more of these meowws. I spoke his name as I usually do, and the meowwws immediately stopped. I rushed over to see his cage to see that, although he was caked of litter and water mixed together, his eyes were bright, big and he was looking around very curiously. I tried sticking my fingers in the cage to let him know it was me, but he definitely did not need that - he knew who I was. We drove home quickly, and when we got in I cut the tywraps and opened the door. At this point, something happened that, if I believed in god, I would say this is an act of god. He walked of out of the cage, walked the perimeter of every room in our house, and
resumed normal life. We showed him where the litter box, food, and water was, and it's as though he has never moved locations. I was absolutely flabbergasted, bamboozled, just blown right away. Tigger is more active now, plays with small plush mice, loves catnip, and seems to like humans more than ever.

It is important to never, absolutely ever, to underestimate the power of love. Without a doubt, that is what made this transition so trivial and painless. One should never underestimate this, as I surely did. I am blown away even to this day to see how this cat has adapted to our home.

To the left is Tigger in his new home. Clearly, he looks comfortable. If Tigger was able to literally enjoy this move, I'm positive absolutely any cat could enjoy it as well. Tigger was the toughest of all cats I'm sure. If you have to move your cat, feel confident that with good preparation and love, it is possible to have a move like this succeed. Good luck to all, and may love help you along.