I knew the drive was going to be bad. Twelve hours. No one to spell me at the wheel because Claudia, my wife, was flying to Switzerland to see her parents at the same time. Two kids, a cranky old cat, two guinea pigs and a hamster. Along with a pile of gear and bikes hanging off the back.
But I didn’t think it would be that bad.
If you missed my earlier post about our 16-year-old cat named Quyloc (named after a main character in my fantasy series, The Devastation Wars), the drive in question was from Tucson to Salida, Colorado. From where we live now to where we used to live.
I had gone and gotten Quyloc some kitty meds on account of his hatred for riding in the car and his ability to yowl non-stop far beyond the twelve hours of the trip. (When he was younger we did the drive without kitty meds. Once. I just remember being hunched over the steering wheel, ear plugs shoved in my ears, the CD player going at top volume, driving faster and faster. I still don’t know how we survived it.”
However, due to his advanced age, the vet was uncomfortable with giving him the good drugs. The kind that knock him out cold for about twelve hours. Oh, he still doesn’t go down without a fight, even on those. He’ll wake up every couple of hours and give the yowling a good go. But he can’t fight it for long and we can live with the inconvenience.
Which is why this time he did the drive on Xanax, which I had no idea could even be prescribed for cats.
About seven in the morning Daniel, my younger son, and I got the first Xanax down his throat and I only got bitten once, but not too deep. He went loopy right away. It looked good.
I saw my first storm clouds when he wobbled over to his food dish and – despite the fact that he eats very little any more – gobbled down a good-sized portion of tuna fish and the rest of his dry cat food. That’s it, I told Daniel. He’s riding in the pet carrier. Something is sure to come out one end or the other.
We made it about three miles before he let go. In the Walmart of a parking lot I used up most of the napkins I had in the glove box getting the kitty poo out of the carrier and off of him. (He even had some on his nose. According to Daniel, he went to sniff his business and then stumbled drunkenly into it.)
Okay. Maybe that was it. At least he didn’t barf, which is his real specialty. (Sometimes, when he’s eaten too much and things just don’t seem right, I’ll put him outside as a preemptive measure. However, he is exceedingly good at resisting the upheaval until I let him back inside, sometimes hours later. He is an evil, evil cat.)
We got about twenty miles down the freeway before he messed again. The smell was bad. The mess was worse. There went the rest of my napkins. Strangers whizzed by, happily going somewhere fast. None of them were riding the poo train. I began to hate them.
We made it to Benson and I bought paper towels and baby wipes. I was so busy battling the cat’s bowel movements that I didn’t have much thought to give to the fact that the Xanax had made him loopy, but didn’t seem to be slowing the yowling much.
The next abrupt stop beside the freeway was for a much looser version of the previous two. Now we had to actually dump water on him and try to rinse off his hindquarters as much as we could. Quyloc was starting to get pretty pissed by then. The indignities he was being made to suffer. Explaining to him that he would like being in Colorado with us better than a kennel for two months made no difference. We should simply never have made plans that inconvenienced him in any way.
About noon we had no choice but to give him another dose of Xanax. The vet said we could give him three a day and I was beginning to curse at the other cars for crimes such as having stupid license plates.
At last we had some relief. After that he often went as much as twenty minutes at a stretch without yowling indignantly. The afternoon wasn’t so bad.
But he wasn’t done.
Around six o’clock, still four hours to go, and the meds started wearing off. I could see that he didn’t like the effect they were having on him so I was reluctant to give him the third dose. Somehow we made it the rest of the way to Salida, although the trip took thirteen hours instead of the usual twelve.
Finally, I thought. We’re here. Now I get a break.
But Quyloc wasn’t done. Just because we were out of the car didn’t mean he was any happier. He proceeded to roam the house and yowl some more.
By midnight I was thinking, he’s an old cat. He has to go to sleep soon. By two a.m. I was going crazy. When would the nightmare end? I finally put him in the front porch, but that didn’t work. He just yowled louder and two doors between us wasn’t enough to block out the sound.
By five I gave up, let him back in and surrendered the house to him. I went and caught a couple of fitful hours on the couch in the garage.
I am not looking forward to the drive back.
P.S. I am happy to report that Quyloc was back to normal the next day. I would like everyone to know that despite my humorous tone in this post I know the whole ordeal was extremely unpleasant for Quyloc and we will never give him Xanax again.