When we decided to pick up and move to London, we had several months to get used to the idea, so when it came time to execute, we were ready. We moved out of our apartment in Austin and lived temporarily in South Carolina, so the temporary housing wasn’t jarring. Our move was like one step at a time rather than one massive leap.
But now, three weeks into our relocation, the dust has somewhat settled and the first pangs of homesickness are setting in. This move is no longer an idea or even temporary–London is our life now. We have new wake up times, new grocery stores, and new currency, and that is all easy and small potatoes compared to the hole in our hearts for our beloved four-legged children.
I remember when my parents surprised me with this kitten, Tenis Racket. It was 2007, and I was coming home from college for a weekend. Mom was all kinds of excited about something she had gotten me. She wouldn’t let me try to guess what it was; I just had to come home.
While in the car with my sister, I played the guessing game, and I finally said, “Wait, is it alive?” She couldn’t contain the secret, and before even seeing her, my heart burst, and she has been my best friend ever since. I have been told I treated her better than I treated most people.
I lived alone for the better part of eight years with her as my roommate–a certified cat lady. My phone is full of pictures of her as a mother would have of her biological infants.
When Jeff first brought up the subject of moving to London, I said, “Absolutely, but Tenis goes with us!” I started looking into how to get a cat across the pond, and all I kept seeing was dollar signs and the word, “quarantine.” I know we could have brought her over with the right budgetary measures, but the other caveat was who would watch her while we were gallivanting in Tuscany for a week or beer tasting in Germany for Oktoberfest? Again, this would have been a doable situation finding friends or a decent kennel, but the writing on the wall was saying it wasn’t worth putting her through the turmoil for just a couple of years.
I battled for months with the idea of losing my fur-baby. Now, I didn’t actually lose her. This is the saving grace, and the spoiler to a happily ever after ending. My parents were incredibly gracious in taking her in while we explore this international trip. But that certainly didn’t make the pain go away. I would not have my companion sleeping in bed with me or following me like my shadow around the flat. I think, honestly, when I broke down in tears about this crazy, overwhelming situation, it was mostly about her.
I do feel as though Jeff’s wound is deeper than mine. He had to give up two four-legged children. Jeff got Asia when she was one year old, about sixteen years ago. I always joked that I would love to hear what she had to say with everything she has seen. His other feline buddy, Jack, was a character unto himself: a pure-bred Persian with respiratory problems and a sometimes litter box issue, he followed Jeff around like a dog. You could call him and he would come trotting right over.
With these two veteran companions, Tenis had quite an adjustment when we moved in together. It took two weeks and separate bedrooms for everyone to coexist happily, and it was hilarious to watch them chase each other and play. Little did they know, in a few months, they would be in new digs.
Jeff’s sister, Mona, took in Asia, and my parents offered their home to Jack with Tenis. We would have been gutted if we had to take our children to a shelter. But again, it doesn’t make the pain less.
Now, when Jeff and I see a cat on the streets of London, we get a little kick in the guts. We even walked past a cat shelter in Battersea Park, and were so tempted to walk in and rescue a Jack, Jr. or Tenis the Second, but we can’t imagine going through the pain of giving up another cat when we return back to the states or on to another country in couple short years.
If you’re thinking about relocating to another country and bringing your fur-baby, check out these guidelines for moving animals to the UK. Note that other countries have different rules (ie: Australia, it’s a mandatory quarantine–no questions asked. Otherwise, you could face jail time. Just ask Johnny Depp and his wife, Amber Heard.)
- Pet Travel: Entering and Returning to the UK
- Getting Your Pet a Passport
- Your Fur-Baby Must be Microchipped
- Get All Blood Work Done and Documented
- AirPets Relocation Information
- Get a Price Quote
If you have animal kids, give them a squeeze for us. After two weeks and some change here, that is the main thing we miss from the states. Well, that and Sriracha!