I wake up at 8 a.m. in a panic. My landlord is due over at 9 a.m. and I have exactly 60 minutes to gather two cats and a dog and get them out of the house before I face eviction for squatting past my move-out date.
I swing my legs out of bed and remove the hot pink ear plugs from my ears, a tell-tale sign that it’s morning. Instead of shuffling around, reluctant to get my day started, I spring out of my too-small twin bed and search for my glasses. I now stand in my room in my underwear, topless, with glasses on. I am a far cry from presentable and pleading my case to my landlord looking like this will surely mean eviction. I run a comb through my hair, put on a bra and a sweatshirt, slip into some leggings.
I make it downstairs and realize the time: It’s 8:15 a.m. I have 45 minutes to figure out how I am going to hide all evidence of animals in my house before the end of the hour. I knock on my roommate’s door in a sleepy stupor, reminding him that we need to get rid of the animals for the day. While he groans for a few more minutes, I head downstairs and begin to gather all of the pets’ belongings: two litter boxes, 2 bags of pet food, 3 feeding bowls and a pet taxi. I set them down on the counter, surveying the stinky mess. What am I going to do with two cat boxes half filled with shit?
My roommate wakes up, comes down stairs, sleepily pulling himself together. I struggle to get my rescue cat, Tigerlily, into the pet taxi. She is clearly traumatized from the last time she was forced to take a ride in the carrier.
A year ago I moved across country from Chicago to Philadelphia. In one straight shot my sister, myself and Tigerlily drove 670 miles to this house. Tigerlily, a strange cat with a finicky attitude, sat complacent in the taxi for the first leg of the trip but became agitated and feral-like near the end of our 15 hour trek. She moaned, wet herself and bit my sister’s boyfriend when we removed her from her traveling jail cell upon arriving to our new home.
It’s 8:30 now. Just 30 minutes until the landlord arrives, and I am faced with getting the reluctant Tigerlily to forgive me for such a hellish ride a year ago. I need her to get in the taxi to save me from the infractions I will soon face from my landlord for getting caught with pets I’m not supposed to have.
“Please, please, pretty kitty,” I’m begging her. She moves forward to sniff the hinged metal grate, the same one she gnawed on for 15 hours.
Meanwhile, Marley, the Pitbull boxer mix wags her tail eagerly as if to say “I’m ready!” Jingy, the more cheerful and pliable feline in the family stalks the door eagerly, excited for the opportunity for a quick trip outside.
My roommate gets the other two pets into the car. Just when I think it’s hopeless, Tigerlily struts into the taxi, looking behind her as if to remind me, “Just this once.”
I silently praise the pet gods, start the car and drive off wondering if this means Tigerlily has forgiven me for the 15 hour cross-country taxi ride.