The Great Cat Reunion and Christmas in Georgia

View from plane window.

The view from the plane window en route from New York City’s LGA to Atlanta’s Hartford Airport.

For the week of Christmas, my wife and I flew down to Georgia to visit relatives. It was the first time I’d been there in about two years. It was really nice to get out of the city, see my family and relax. Going around town, looking at the places I went to school, the places I used to hang out, and sharing those memories with my wife was a good experience for both of us. She left feeling like she knew me better and I came away from the trip feeling a bit more grounded. Going to college and taking heavy course-loads with only short breaks between (I’ve been cramming in Summer and Winter classes as well) had me feeling like I was mentally flying off the rails for a while there. I’m also not taking a class this Winter. That’s mostly because I have Grand Jury Duty but I don’t think I would have taken a course anyway. I just need time to let everything I’ve learned sink in, and time to just unwind.

Highway signs in Alabama. Some of my family lives over there too, right on the border with Georgia.

Highway signs in Alabama. Some of my family lives over there too, right on the border with Georgia.

The National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning Georgia.

The National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning Georgia.

While we were in Georgia, my wife and I visited Sand Hill on Fort Benning, where I did my basic combat training back in 1998. We also went to the National Infantry museum. I’ll be posting about those experiences over the next couple of days. I can’t believe how much Sand Hill has changed, or how nice the Infantry Museum turned out to be. I was expecting something, but not something that well put together. It’s the Army, after all!

Carting our cats over to my mom's apartment.

Carting our cats over to my mom’s apartment.

Anyway, before we left for Georgia, we had one small issue we had to take care of: the cats. Dapper and Thumper probably wouldn’t have wanted to fly with us to Georgia, even if it had been affordable, not to mention the fact that I don’t think my family would want cats running around their houses anyway. So, they had to stay at my mom’s place with their long-lost sister, Marble. They hadn’t seen each other in about six months and Thumper hasn’t gotten along with Marble since I left the Philippines with Marble instead of her back in 2010 and she had to sit there for a year waiting on me to bring her to NYC. I think she got jealous!

Marble, pissed off about unwanted house guests.

Marble, pissed off about unwanted house guests.

Dapper, taking up a position on the high ground.

Dapper, taking up a position on the high ground.

Thumper, in solitary confinement because she likes to fight.

Thumper, in solitary confinement because she likes to fight.

So, throwing them all back together for a week was probably not the best idea, but cat-sitting is so expensive these days, and I trust family more than I trust a pet-sitting service anyway. I figured they’d be ok. Everything seemed to have gone ok, anyway. Bringing them back was entertaining. We had to wrap the carrier up in blankets because it was about 24 degrees outside that night with a brisk wind. When we exited my mom’s building, one of our cats gave this horrified meow when she felt the breeze. Then she buried herself in blankets!

I hope everyone had as good a time over the holidays as we did, and that everyone’s year is off to a good start!

Marble’s Memorial Day Adventure

Marble on the couch.

Being a Singaporean cat, Marble hasn’t had the opportunity to celebrate any American holidays until she immigrated to the US this year.

Marble doesn't look satisfied yet.

It was with great excitement that she oversaw the grilling operations at my mom’s place.

Shrimp kabobs.

Yup!  This is what she was waiting for!  Shrimp and chicken. =)

Marble's bowl.

She had her own bowl.  That’s one of the shrimp that was set aside for her.  She really does enjoy shrimp and chicken.  She’s not too big on pork though.

Since moving to the US, this cat has really been spoiled.  She eats plenty of scraps from the table.  She’s come a long way from living in a potted plant on the side of the road in Singapore.

Welcome To New York City, Marble!

The neighborhood my mom's apartment building is in, Marble's new home.

This is another post about Marble, the cat I brought with me to New York City and gave to my mom.  She’s done quite a bit of traveling and this last trip was hard on her, because she was in the plane for so long, but now she’s adjusting quite nicely.  She seems to not mind being in an apartment or mind the noise of the city.  Like one of my friends said, she’s a city girl at heart.  She grew up in Singapore after all.

She’s still in that ‘adjustment’ period when it comes to my mom’s cat.  They haven’t quite become friends yet.  Marble doesn’t seem to want anything to do with him, but he’s been really aggressive and we have to keep an eye on him constantly.  It seems like every time we turn our backs he’s trying to go after her.  I’m sure that will stop after a while, but he’s been the lone king of this apartment for over a year, since his older brother passed away from old age.  It’s typical cat behavior, not wanting to concede territory to another cat, but it still seems bizarre, because in human terms it would be like a retiree beating up a 10 year old child brought into his house by a relative.  Marble is barely over a year old, so she’s still a young cat.

Marble sitting on the window sill over the radiator.

To that end, she’s taken to staying high up, where that big fat cat can’t reach her.  She stays on an armchair next to me, or sits on the shelf over the radiator by the window.  She really enjoys that spot because it lets her look out onto the street below.  Sometimes she goes onto the balcony and sits on the freezer too.

Marble looking out the window at the city street below.

So far I haven’t done much in the city except random errands, but I’ll definitely start posting some stuff soon.  Tomorrow I want to write a bit about the flight from Manila to New York and Narita airport in Tokyo.  To end this post, though, I’ll leave you with a not so good photo of the beast of a cat that my mom already had:

Pichi examining the cat carrier Marble rode in on her way from Manila to New York City.

Now use the following photo for a size comparison:

Dapper and Thumper, my other two cats sleeping in the carrier that was later used to bring Marble to NYC.

Dapper, the cat on the left, is about the same size as Marble.

Marble Took a Trip to the Vet Today!

I have three cats: Marble, Dapper and Thumper.  When I leave for the US next week Marble is going to be coming with me, while the other two remain in the Philippines to keep my wife company.  Obviously, you can’t just show up at the airport with your cat and expect to hop on the plane.  It takes some preparation and that preparation began today.  The process for taking a cat out of the Philippines and into the US is mercifully painless compared to how hard it was to bring my cats here from Singapore.  I’m going to write up another comprehensive guide to exporting cats from the Philippines to the US later, but for now I thought I’d share this.

Part of getting Marble ready for her trip was getting her clean and presentable to minimize the chances of her being deemed unhealthy during the inspection at the vet for a health certificate.  She was overdue for a bath anyway.  In fact, all three of my cats were overdue, so yesterday we forced them to endure a good scrubbing.

Marble getting toweled dry after a bath.

Marble gave us the least trouble with her bath, though she was the only one to inflict damage.  I have a nice new scratch on my left foot from her trying desperately to evade the water we were pouring on her from a dipper.

Thumper licking herself dry after her bath.

Thumper never stopped struggling during her bath and wound up looking like a drowned rat by the end of it.

Dapper getting brushed after her bath.

Dapper wasn’t too bad during her bath, but she was the noisiest.  She made sure we knew how pissed she was by continuously growling.  She even hissed at us once.  I thought for sure she was going to turn into a whirling ball of claws and shred our legs, but we escaped without injury.  The cats kept jumping up onto the bed while they were still wet.  They usually do that, so we decided this would be a good day to wash our sheets and just left the new sheets off the bed until after they were dry.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the horror of giving their cats a bath, but ours aren’t too bad.  I think the reason for that is that we’ve gotten them accustomed to it.  We typically give them baths about once every two or three months, sometimes more often depending on how quickly they get that nasty greasy feeling on their fur.

Marble in her carrier, on the way to the vet.

Today, Marble went on a big adventure.  She didn’t seem too thrilled about being in the carrier again, after the fiasco that happened at Changi Airport a few months ago.

Tricycles, a popular mode of transportation in the Philippines.

Overall, she was pretty behaved as long as she could see us, though she didn’t care for the tricycle ride.  I don’t blame her.  Sometimes riding those tricycles can be a little stressful for me too.  At first, she kept looking around to try to find a way out of the carrier, but eventually settled into a corner and just looked at us with pleading eyes.

The actual visit at the vet wasn’t too hard on her at all.  We took her to the Our Lady of Assumption Dog and Cat Clinic in Antipolo.  Ya… like I’ve said before, religious terms and phrases are everywhere in the Philippines.  Her booster shot was pretty quick and didn’t seem to bother her too much.  I was surprised at how behaved she was.

Something that concerned me about our visit there was the type of shots they had available.  In Singapore, our cats got a Fort Dodge Felovax 4 in 1 shot and a rabies vaccination.  The next shot they were supposed to get was a booster for the 4 in 1.  The vet didn’t recognize it though and after placing a call found out that the 4 in 1 isn’t supplied in the Philippines at all.  He said it’s because those types of problems aren’t present in cats here.  I don’t know about that for sure.  Maybe they’re just not treated here.  Hopefully this won’t cause me to run into a problem of her having to be quarantined in NYC until she gets a proper booster shot.

Regardless, she got her panleucopenia booster and we’ll be picking up her health certificate tomorrow to take to the BAI in Manila for her export permit.  They do 1 hour processing on the export permit and it’s supposedly free.  Not bad!  So far, from what I can see, the total cost for exporting a cat from the Philippines to the US is about 230 USD.  Of course, I have to stay in a hotel in Manila the night before my flight and I’ll need to find one that will allow me to have her there, so the price difference might up my total cost.  We’ll see how that goes.  I need to start calling around to hotels tomorrow.

Our Cats Have Adjusted to the Philippines

For any of you that have been following my blog for a while you’ll know that I have cats and that they’re very much a part of the family.  We had cats the entire time we lived in Singapore and while some of them passed away due to illness or accident, we love them and didn’t want to leave them behind when we moved to the Philippines.  Getting our 3 ‘babies’ here from Singapore was a real pain in he ass, and a costly one too, but it’s been rewarding and it’s great to see that they’ve adjusted well to their new environment.

Things didn’t go quite as planned.  We’re staying at my in-law’s place temporarily and there are other cats here.  They haven’t had shots, they’re aggressive and they’re dirty.  We don’t want our relatively pampered cats to mix with them because we don’t want them getting sick or injured.  The area of the house we’re staying in is sort of a mini-suite.  It has its own bathroom and mini-kitchen along with a bedroom, so it’s spacious enough I suppose.  We’re keeping our cats isolated from the others in our area.  They don’t seem to mind too much, though I think they wish they had more room to play.  Eventually, we’ll be moving to a place in Manila where they’ll be able to roam the whole house, once we get window screens installed.

DSC05357 DSC05360 DSC05372

Thumper, the black cat, seems the least concerned with her change of location.  Even though she’s got sort of a weird, gimpy way of walking due to a birth defect she always seems to be the most confident, even after moving to another country.  She also seems to be the least concerned with the other cats in the house.  Marble, the one in the middle, is busy being fat.  When we first adopted her she was pretty skinny but now she spends most of her time laying around doing nothing and when it’s feeding time she tries to push the other cats out of the way to eat their food before eating hers.  That’s a problem because she’s gaining weight rapidly and the other two cats are going hungry.  I’m thinking about putting her in a cat carrier during feeding time to make sure everyone gets their fair share.  Dapper is still the big sissy she always was, but as long as she has a blanket to hide under at night she’s ok.

One of the weirdest things these cats do now is that they like to chase and eat bugs.  In Singapore, even though there were no window screens, we rarely found a bug or flying insect indoors.  There was one incident with a gecko in the room, but that’s about it.  Here, there are always moths and beetles flying around and all three cats find them incredibly fascinating.  They chase them around and when they manage to catch one, they gobble it up like it’s candy.  Kinda gross, but it doesn’t seem to be making them sick, so I’ll let them do what they want.

They also compete for the platform at the top of their scratch post / gym, because it gives a view out the window.  Things outside are a lot more lively here than in Singapore and they want to be able to watch.  They can sometimes see and hear chickens, other cats, dogs, children playing and people hanging out in the street.

I’m glad to see how well they’ve adjusted and that they’re having a good time.  I hope they’ll be just as quick to adapt the next time we make an international move.  Hm.  That reminds me, it’s almost time for them to get more shots!

For more information on importing cats to the Philippines from Singapore, click here.