One cat in the wall, while the other is on the roof

I realize the title sounds like a great metaphor for something like “Well everything could be worse! Could have two asshole cats instead of just one!” But actually this really did happen and it’s all because I felt so sad about leaving my cats in Virginia with my parents for a year. Some people who know me might call me a cat-person but I mean, who has to subscribe to society’s labeling these days.

 

IMG_20170205_100811
Sick album drop coming soon.

 

These are two stories that happened last year, and I think it’s relevant because I’m doing so much reflecting these past few weeks. This is also basically a cat picture repository because I have to have somewhere to show them off.

 

Last year Z and I moved two blocks to a new apartment and we decided we wanted to struggle everyday to come home, live at heights that cause altitude sickness and cause our friends to not come see us because of the inconvenience of where we live. Obviously we picked one on the 6th floor of an Altbau, with no elevator.

 

 

Just kidding. We love our apartment and our friends love our grill on our balcony(ies). The actual move up here took 3 hours, start to finish, which is amazing. Shout out to Rachel and Stephanie who moved our sectional couch by themselves and then put it back together to sit down and watch the rest of us struggle.

 

 

The cats also love the apartment. There are beams & rafters to run around on, a nice long hallway with only one carpet to race up and down at 2:45am. There are pigeons everywhere and large windows to run at to intimidate the pigeons. But the actual moving into the apartment was less than fun for them. We brought them over here from DC on the 30th, and moved again on the 2nd. This means some pretty big upheavals in a short span of time. While Toby is all about change (with some reservations) and is a true travel cat, Mallie was less than thrilled and one could feel the hatred oozing from her cat pores.

 

IMG_20111215_220710
We are going where and how? How about no.
MOVING (internationally) WITH CATS – why would you do this?

TheCats spent the first year of my move with my parents, who were overjoyed at having four indoor/outdoor cats live under one roof. But the time came for us to be reunited and so in the fall of 2015 I began preparations to bring American cats to Europe.

 

IMG_20150216_211748
They formed a cat gang, it wasn’t good.

 

Their old life was a cushy, indoor-outdoor experience but that was going to have to change, at least temporarily, in Wiesbaden.

 

 

This included:

  • Cat visas
  • Vaccinations
  • $$$ €€€
  • Preparing Z for living with TheCats
  • a 4 hour trip that turned into a 10 hour trip
  • Panic

The following is only interesting if you are interested in flying animals around the world. If not, skip by scrolling down a bit (if only it were that easy).

 

IMG_20131215_234032

 

To get animal visas for the EU, there are a few forms needed. Here are the official rules to get them into the EU if you would like to read them. What’s most important to note is the following: (also note this assumes you have a cat or dog and it is older than 16 weeks and this is a general run-of-the- mill family pet.)

  • Each person may travel with no more than five pets (dogs, cats, ferrets). The animals may not change ownership in the country. (approximate cost: $125 per pet)
  • They must have microchips (As of July 3, 2011, a microchip is mandatory for animals being identified for the first time. If the animal was tattooed prior to this date, a microchip is not required so long as the tattoo is still legible. The animal must be distinctly identifiable and assignable to the owner. The number of the microchip or the tattoo must be noted in the pet ID or in the veterinary certificate.)
  • Valid Rabies Vaccination Vaccinations valid for 1, 2 or 3 years are acceptable as long as the vaccination is current and has been administered according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. (approximate cost: varies so widely, but roughly $25 per pet)
    • They can have the rabies vaccine at the same times as the microchip implantation but:
    • After a primary rabies vaccination, the pet must wait 21 days before it is eligible to enter the EU.
      • Primary is: the first vaccination at the same time or after the microchip was implanted or a previous vaccination expired.
  • You can’t sell them once in country nor can you have the intent to sell
  • If you’re coming from the USA, you are considered transiting from a third country so the following applies:
    • Health Certificate: “the pet ID or the veterinary certificate must contain veterinary proof that that animal has a valid vaccination against rabies. The accompanying person must submit a written declaration stating that the animal is not being brought into the country to be sold or change owners.” (approximate cost: my vet charged $300 for this service + checkup + new vaccines)
      • If, you are the owner and they will be on the same plane as you, OR within five (5) days before/after pet arrival, then: Certificate must be issued within 10 days of entering the EU
      • Same applies to designtated persons
      • But if neither applies and pet is leaving or arriving after or before 5 days within the owner/designated peron, then: Certificate must be issued within 48 hours of departing the U.S.
      • I have read FRA accepts English-only certificates but, I would strongly suggest having German versions of everything, and here it is in a combined dual-language version.

For more information on USA -> Germany see this.

And, obviously, plane tickets. We went with United because of the IAD-FRA connection and at the time it was $125 per pet AND they could go under the seats with us. Delta and American Airlines for comparison.

And, if you plan to come back with your pets, you can choose to get Pet Passports. I haven’t gotten that far in this process yet.

*Final note: we also had to drive to Richmond, as my registered home address is in Virginia, to get all these things stamped by their approval, which cost $38, 6 minutes in the USDA office, and a 7 hour drive from NOVA, near Christmas, in the rain, on 95/1.

 

IMG_20170131_214925_490
We is having a sad at the vet

IMG_20160413_132836

 

So, all of the above cost roughly the down payment on a new car* and then we had to actually do the traveling. TheCats are pretty good travelers, having gone with me around NOVA just because, and they used to roam my old neighborhood with me if I was going for a short walk. The plane was a fresh new hell for them however. I had done a lot of panicked reading of the horrors of giving pets tranquilizers on planes and opted not to go that route. Instead they had dinner and water at 4:00pm, our flight was at 8:00pm and  they were fully alert and awake for the extreme joy the TSA brings to travelers (I also opted to not use tranquilizers on myself in solidarity). We went to check-in and gave them the certification from VA (which they said they didn’t need) and then had to carry them through security outside their carriers and no leashes through the metal detectors because this is fun for everyone. I also showed security TheCat papers but they also said they didn’t need them.

*no, it was more like $600 at the most, but panic escalates estimates

 

IMG_20140704_122026
TravelCats

 

They did yowl a bit on the plane but we discovered that our aisle seat companion didn’t even know we had TheCats with us so it musn’t have been that loud. Toby did break through the zipper at about 3:00am and that was very exciting for all of us, especially when he learned he was getting stuffed right back in. We only had one bathroom accident and it was immediately after disembarking, of course, but convenient because we were walking by an actual bathroom at the time.

 

We get to FRA and now we have German Bureaucracy ahead of us. It was quite empty so everyone who was around got to hear TheCats singing the songs of their people in the long and echo-y hallways. At the first Zollpunkt they didn’t even ask to see them inside their carriers, just the people papers. So onto baggage claim, where we know the final Zoll checkpoint will be. We grab our bags and head over, only to see the red channel is closed! But there is a red phone that has a sign that is very explicit about calling if one has anything to declare, otherwise massive € fines and imprisonment will ensue.

So, putting cat bags down, I picked up and proudly said

“Hallo! Ich habe meine amerikanischen Katzen hier, die in Deutschland leben wollen!

(“Hello! My American cat has peed in her bag and I need a nap please.”)

The agent was not fooled by my perfekte Deutsche accent and said

“Do you have their papers?”
“Yes I do! And their visas and their shots!”
“OK. Wilkommen bei Deutschland.”
(“OK. Please hire better German tutors for your cats.”)

Klicke.

I was actually pretty upset at this because I did all the things and paid all the monies and no one cared.


So we settle them into their first German home, only to scoop them back into the carriers two days later and walk them up the street to their new house. They were the last to be moved and we carefully made sure the exterior doors were all closed before letting them loose. This undignified re-stuffing into cat bags was entirely unacceptable and Mallie took off like a rocket in the first direction away from people she could as soon as she was unzipped. Toby was more skeptical of everything and everyone and nosed about for a few hours.

At bedtime, we realize we haven’t seen Mallie since we brought her in. A hunt ensues, Zach even walks around the block, and we wind up finding her IN THE WALL in the bathroom. Turns out, our perfect, spa-like bathroom has a hole under the bidet (don’t ask, I don’t know) and another hole in the adjoining utility closet and she chose one of these to escape to. She wouldn’t come out for kibbles nor tuna so, seeing as it was warm back there, we let her be.

But two days later she hasn’t emerged and it’s occurred to me (in my entirely calm and logical thinking) that, as this is a tall building and we are essentially in a converted attic, the walls might be hollow and there could be a hole she’s fallen down through into the basement. I email our landlord (of three days) asking for advice about how to retrieve a cat from a wall. He ended up calling the fire department.

Two firemen came with a listening device and poked around for a bit and before I knew it, there were 10 firemen in my bathroom/apartment all looking around and bringing in more tools and then suddenly the fire chief is there making small talk with me about restaurants in town, and I’m assuming he’s doing this to distract me from when they finally pull her poor, lifeless body from the wall. But after an hour or so there was no luck and so they left, sad faces all around.

Mallie has done disappearing acts before, most famously during the Winter Vortex when she was gone for about 6 weeks. So this is not entirely unusual behavior however never has she successfully hidden from me in my own house. I spent the rest of the week on English expats in Germany forums and various animal advice sites, all with no luck but with many well wishes and “is this even a real post?” comments. Then, on the 6th day, Z was brushing his teeth at bed time and suddenly hears mewing from under the floor. He mewed back, and then they had a conversation about the quality of the interior of the walls, so we knew she was alive! I tapped along the wall she was in and could hear her moving around on the pipes around the toilet and along the exterior wall. The apartment is heated using Unterbodenheizung (Fussbodenheizung) (“Cat trapping hollow spaces”) so she had many cozy places under the floor and in the walls to explore. We figured out we could pull tiles off the back of the tub so we did that, and a few seconds later, up popped her little head in this big empty space under the tub. We pull her out, totally orange and black now, and put her in the shower. After a vigorous scrub and some kibble (and shutting the bathroom door) she too nosed about her new home.


Not to be outdone, a month later, on Fasching, Toby was in the kitchen with me the morning of the party I was hosting (Z was stateside). I opened the window for some air, turn around, hear the thump, and turn back around to discover he’s fled out to the small balcony. I rush out but it’s too late, he’s made his way over on to the next roof.

Now, it’s February, and it’s raining, and I have guests coming in 30 minutes. On pure adrenaline, I jump the pipe and cross over onto the neighbors balcony cover (which did not want to hold my weight) and had to then get on the slate roof. I have no shoes on so this makes it a bit easier to “stick” to the roof. He had already made his ascent up to the top and was struggling on the lead connector. The two of us have had precarious times in his kittenhood when he’d get stuck in a tree and I would come over and hold up my hands and he’d jump into my arms and it was adorable. But, now we’re 60 meters up on a slippery roof with no guardrail to keeps us from falling. Yes, this was incredibly stupid.

But, I balanced and held out my arms and he immediately came sliding down (mewing “I was so dumb forgive me I’m sorry!”) and buried his face in the crook of my elbow. I did my dance back across the neighbor’s balcony cover, swung us up and over my balcony railing and practically threw him through the door into the kitchen.

IMG_20170228_204017
Everything is fine.

Great success! But 2 minutes later I hear the Polizei sirens and sure enough, I can see them in the neighbor’s balcony looking very concerned. A few minutes after that, they rang my bell and at this time our buzzer didn’t work, so I had to say “Komme! Meine Klinger macht nicht!” through the intercom and run down all 6 flights (I still don’t have shoes on and haven’t finished cleaning the mud off my jeans from the roof). All I can think is “I have people coming over in 15 minutes and they are going to see my complete and utter failure as a hostess” but by the time I get to the bottom, the police have already decided the best thing to do is break open the door. With some type of crow-bar-ram thing.

As the door is old and heavy as shit and I don’t want to be responsible for the damage, I run over to open it saying “I’m so sorry my bell doesn’t work!” and I get some serious up-down looks.

We agree on a language (the ever popular Denglisch) and it goes something like this:

“Your neighbors have reported someone was on their roof, did you see anything?”
“I did, my cat got out-”
“No it was bigger, a person”
“…right, and I went out after him because he was stuck.”

“…”

“Why would you do that?”

I didn’t get in trouble and actually got some laughs when they noticed my muddy feet and told me that roof-jumping was not a good idea, unless one has filed the proper Dachspringenberechtigungserlaubnis with the local Bürgeramt, but no harm no foul. They leave, I go back upstairs where Toby is already passed out from his adventure, and the first guest arrives not 5 minutes later.

IMG_20160225_113258
Ugh I can’t even with this shifting sun.

However, all that excitement is now past us and we are a happy cat family in Wiesbaden. We don’t like German cat-food brands and therefore insist upon imported Fancy Feast (so basic) but we do love the 16 hours of German sun in the summers.

2016-06-25 (3)

Three of us
Nothing is unusual in this photo

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

One thought on “One cat in the wall, while the other is on the roof

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s