Thursday, August 09, 2012
a tale of an irresistible kitty
i already mentioned that we fell in love with a kitten early on in our trip. she was born and raised here at the wonderful farm on st. mathias. when we asked if she was available, the owner said, "have you touched the kitten?" feeling suddenly slightly guilty, we admitted we had. he smiled and said, "then she's yours." and we haven't really looked back.
if i'd known how many cats my mom has at her house (don't ask), i'd probably not have taken her, but she's so delightful that i don't really have any regrets. look at that little face - who could resist her? she has turned out to have the most personality of any kitty we've ever had (and we've had many over the years) - she's packed with it.
it seemed on several occasions that the odds were against us being able to bring her home. i went straight to united's website, as we were flying with them (and swissair) home. their site directed me to petsafe, which was apparently continental's pet handling arm. i filed the request form there on their site and waited for a response. it didn't go through the first time, so i had to do it again (grr to adobe). finally, a reservation came through - to the tune of $413!! dang! i had taken my two cats - simon & abercrombie - back to denmark in 1999 and it cost only $75, so tho' i had anticipated that the price would have gone up, i didn't think it would be THAT much. it seemed cost prohibitive for a little barn kitty, so i decided to leave the cat with my dad, who had taken a liking to her.
then i noticed that tho' the reservation form had asked for my flight details and i had clearly stated that i wanted to fly with the kitten (preferably in-cabin), they had sent her on completely different flights (we were to fly minneapolis-chicago-zurich-copenhagen and they sent her minneapolis-newark-copenhagen). so i wrote back and asked why, as well as asking about the high price. it was only when they answered that i realized they were sending her as cargo and not in-cabin, as i had requested.
this time, i got on the phone with petsafe, where once i finally got through, i learned that they handle only pets as cargo and not in-cabin pets, so i needed to contact regular reservations (this is NOT at all clear on their petsafe form). i asked them to transfer me, which they did (a bit to my surprise). then, after waiting 30-some minutes on hold, i talked to a wonderful, service-minded woman who helped me arrange to take molly (that's the name she finally approved) in-cabin on both our united and swissair flights - for only $125, instead of $413. who wouldn't want to do that?
with reservations in place, i now turned to the vaccination requirements. another stumbling block, as a rabies shot is required and our kitten was only going to be 10 weeks old at the time of our travel and vets require them to be 12 weeks old to vaccinate for rabies. additionally, the rabies vaccination had to be 21 days old to count, so again it looked like there was no way to fulfill these requirements with such a young kitten.
however, on a long shot, i called the danish consulate in chicago and asked if there was any way to import a kitten that was younger than 12 weeks. a VERY helpful woman, who had clearly been in the US long enough to be service-minded, looked into it and even called me back(!) to tell me that it was possible to get a dispensation and even directed me to the link where i could find the necessary forms. so i filed two more forms (thank odin for electronic forms) with the danish veterinary authority, requesting the dispensation.
nearly immediately, i got an answer, informing me that a kitten could not be taken from its mother before it was 12 weeks old, so there was no way i could travel with the kitten (between the lines was a disapproval and possibly a few dark thoughts of me as an animal abuser). quick thinking caused me to respond that the kitten had lost her mother (technically not a lie, as she didn't have her mother anymore) and would they please reconsider. which they did! and the next day i had the dispensation. after investing another $100+ in divesting the kitten of ear mites (which may be why she was shaking her head at all those names we suggested) and getting her micro-chipped and vaccinated for distemper and treated for ticks and fleas (tho' there was no evidence of either), she was ready to come with us.
so on tuesday, we carried her onto our first flight in a little duffle bag-style carrier. we had food and water with us and offered it to her at regular intervals throughout the long day of flights. she handled it like an absolute trooper - as if she'd been traveling across the atlantic her entire life. she did sleep quite a lot today, so it was a tiring journey for a little kitten. but we're glad she made it. and she's already thoroughly charmed husband (who was skeptical at a distance), tho' lila, our elderly and slightly grumpy indoor cat is less charmed. we think she was definitely worth all of the effort. the best souvenir we could have brought home.