Can I sneak a cat onto a train or what?
December 6, 2010 3:56 PM Subscribe
My fantasy of merrily heading home on the train for Christmas with a cat carrier in hand is not working out. How do I transport my cat a few hours into the middle of nowhere if I'm too scared to drive that far alone?
I suspect there is some beanplating in the following paragraphs, but here's the situation...
I'm trying to get from Philadelphia to my hometown of State College, PA early next week. I always take either the bus or train to visit my parents. And I was looking forward to taking my quite young kitten home with me to meet my parents. But it turns out Amtrak doesn't accept pets. Neither does Megabus or Greyhound. I thought perhaps the Chinatown bus would be a bit more lax in their pet policies, but it seems like the Philly-SC route has disappeared!
The obvious solution is to rent a car -- the trip is just over three hours. I do have a driver's license. But I've barely driven at all in the past six years, have next to no highway driving experience, find normal driving experiences such as merging onto the highway to be terrifying, have never driven anywhere unfamiliar before, don't know how to navigate by myself, etc.
There are flights between Philly and State College, but apparently we're talking about $650 roundtrip for a flight that barely reaches a cruising altitude before it begins its descent.
I wasn't planning to come back to Philly at all during my nearly-six-week break. I was planning on doing some shorter trips to various places during that time, and leaving kitty at home with my (cat-loving) parents.
I've never used Craigslist rideshare but it is on my radar. I haven't seen anything appropriate offered, but I also haven't posted a request myself.
Here are the options that have at least crossed my mind, none of which are seeming like good ideas. Can you comment on any of the suggestions or offer other possibilities I haven't thought of?
1) I could go on a number of shorter trips (back to State College a couple times, around to other places) but come back to Philly in between. But then I'd still need to arrange extensive cat-sitting time, and I'm not keen to spend any more time here over the holidays than necessary.
2) Maybe I can actually take kitty on the bus or train. Are the anti-pet policies of Amtrak, Greyhound, or Megabus actually enforced? Does anyone have experience with just showing up with a pet in tow? If it's relevant, I have a very small, discreet, soft-sided cat carrier (kitty is young and tiny) that would easily sit at my feet or under the seat in front of me.
3) I assume this is a terrible idea, but can I sedate kitty and put her in my purse? Ok...yeah that's a terrible idea...right? Please don't take my cat away for even thinking it....
4) Maybe I should suck it up and be a normal American adult and rent a car. How scared should I really be of a trip like this with rusty driving skills and little highway experience?
5) I assume that it's unlikely someone will be offering a ride from Philly to State College for the specific time I want to travel, but maybe if I posted a request I could find a rideshare who wouldn't mind a cat in the backseat. Is this safe, more or less?
6) It would break my heart to leave her boarding somewhere, but maybe I should get a pet sitter and leave her home? Besides the cost of hiring a pet sitter for so long, the problems is that even when I leave her with a pet sitter for a few days she seems desperately lonely by the time I get home. Six weeks just seems like too long for a compulsively affectionate, attention-seeking kitten to live alone!
As a bonus complication, I looked through the previous questions tagged with "cat" and "travel" or "pet" and "travel" and am now wondering if it's a cruelty to my beloved little kitty to relocate her for a mere six weeks. But I was so looking forward to having her meet my parents and be with me for the holidays. Please help me think clearly about this, wise Mefites...I'm feeling very stressed out and frustrated!