The airport: scene of thousands of travelers scurrying about, the squawk of the PA system, harsh fluorescent lighting, and confusion – bucketloads of confusion. It's a lot for a human to bear let alone a cat. I remember standing in line with my stepdad at the American Airlines check-in counter at JFK with my two cats in tow, their carriers perched atop the mountain of luggage piled onto our cart. Nothing seemed to faze them. Cocoa and Ziggy attracted attention from everyone around us, and I fielded questions from other passengers in both Spanish and English about the cats' travel plans, as if they were some sort of visiting foreign dignitaries.
After passing through security, the cats were whisked away by an airline employee and sent to the belly of the plane, re-emerging some 12 hours later on the conveyor belt at Ezeiza, none the worse for the wear. In fact, I'd venture to say that they probably slept better than I did on the flight. The cats were fantastic travelers, and I was shocked at how quickly they adjusted to their new surroundings once they arrived in Argentina. [If you're interested in detailed information about traveling with pets to Argentina, see this post I wrote last year about the process.]
At the end of my visit last October, I left my michis in the capable hands of Daniel and his family, and I returned to the U.S. to make the preparations for my monumental move. When I finally arrived back in Argentina five months later, I was told that Cocoa and Ziggy had made little progress in their Spanish studies. Supposedly, immersion is one of the best methods for picking up a new language, but the cats failed to learn simple phrases such as "¡Bajate!" (Get down!) and "Vení (acá)" (Come [here]). Apparently, they also didn't pick up on the fact that michi is another word for cat, one that's commonly used to get a feline's attention, especially if you don't know its name.
As one would expect, the word "siesta" posed virtually no obstacle.
Most people here are amazed that Cocoa and Ziggy are declawed (it's simply not done here), and they accuse me of being an evil cat mommy for not letting them out of the house to enjoy the great outdoors (i.e. fleas, stray animals with claws, etc.). In addition, I'm quite sure others think it was crazy to haul two cats 5,500 miles when there are a million and one cats in Argentina, but I couldn't imagine not having them here with me.
Cocoa belonged to my mom and stepdad before he came to live with me a few years ago. Every member of my immediate family has loved, doted over, and showered affection upon Cocoa, so when I pet him, it's like I'm connected to them in some way. He's a constant companion and the consummate lap cat.
Ziggy tends to be more independent than Cocoa, but she still loves attention. She has grown particularly fond of Daniel and his mom over the last year. The most blissful look comes over her face when Daniel picks her up and cradles her in his arms.
On October 3rd, the cats reached their one year anniversary here in Argentina! They still don't know how to speak castellano, but at least they figured out "miau."