Travels With Furball
The first airport security guard to stop us was a friendly older gentleman who wanted to make sure we weren't trying to take too many carry-on bags with us to the gate. I pointed out that our extra bag was actually carrying my cat.
"Oh my!" He said happily, "and what's it's name?"
"This is Furball."
"Herb-all! Well it's a pleasure to meet you Herball!"
He bent down to look Furball in the eyes but she was too busy quickly whipping her head from side to side to see the crowd of people walking through massive x-ray machines and putting bags onto small conveyor belts.
"Now I do notice that Herball here isn't asleep." He said.
"Yeah, she's pretty old so we weren't sure if it would be a good idea to drug her up." Furball has been my cat since the 3rd or 4th grade. I'm 24 now and am unfortunately too lazy to figure out how old that actually makes her, but her papers say 13. How exactly veterinarians figure out cat ages is a mystery to me, but my wife thinks it probably has something to do with rings around the tail.
"Well good luck Herball!" The old man said.
We continued through the line until we got to the next security checkpoint, at which the man checking our tickets immediately started to sneeze.
"We have a cat with us," I said. "How exactly does this work?"
The man continued sneezing and said, "Well that explains it." Blowing his nose he continued, "You'll have to take her out of the carrier and walk through."
This terrified me.
Furball has become notorious throughout my family as the cat that likes to scratch everything, especially faces, mostly children's faces actually. How exactly this ancient cat would react to a strange world of loud noises, x-ray machines, and massive flying machines was something I wasn't eager to discover.
We walked up to the next line. I was stopped by another security guard and I leveled with him.
"So the Turkey hasn't really kicked in yet," I said, "And honestly, this cat has really sharp claws. Can I just send her through the x-ray machine anyways?" Secretly I just really wanted to see the image of a deranged cat skeleton show up on the tv screen.
"You could, but I'm not sure if it would come out the other side." The man replied. "That said, I ain't chasing after no cat."
I sighed, shook my head, and after taking off my shoes and belt, I started to unzip the cat carrier.
She definitely didn't want to come out, and immediately upon being released she dug all of her claws deep into my shirt.
"Yeeeesh!" The security guard said, suddenly backing away.
Furball has over the years lost small patches of hair leaving her at times looking like a wild animal. I imagine walking through security in bare feet, sagging pants, wearing a ragged shirt, while carrying a very scared animal, that I looked somewhat like a refugee. How nobody threw spare change at me is a mystery.
Luckily, despite a few minor scratches, we made it through, and Furball was more than happy to hop back into the carrier once again.
The entire flight went without any major incidents, mostly because the sounds of a baby crying and a scared cat are oddly similar. The Indian man next to me didn't even realize he was sitting next to an animal until we were about to land.
Now Furball is officially a California cat, and no matter what, has lived to see both coasts of America (which I consider to be a major achievement for a feline). Who knows where her adventures will take her next, especially considering she has already ventured underneath a pile of firewood in the backyard where I had to struggle to get her out. It's nice having her around, and I wonder what she must think of grown-up Zachary and his strange world of airplanes and dogs and other cats, but I think she likes it. She definitely likes it better than being called Herball.