We moved this week. We’re settling into a new house after five years in our beloved apartment. My 12-year-old is not too thrilled about uprooting from a neighborhood and town he really loves.
And then on moving day, something really scary happened. We put our beloved cat in the kitchen and told the movers not to open it. Unfortunately, that communication didn’t work as planned. Someone did open the door.
We came in with her carrier to move her to the new house and she was gone. All the doors to the building were propped wide open. Katara is NOT an outdoor cat and had never been outside. I was terrified.
My son was at camp and I could not imagine telling him that in addition to moving him away from his happy home, his beloved cat was nowhere to be found.
Friends rallied around us by making signs and walking around the neighborhood calling for her. A group of little kids that we didn’t even know walked the neighborhood looking for her. A teen from across the street got on his bike to search. We were scared, but so grateful for all the support and community.
I couldn’t stop thinking about 4pm, when I was supposed to pick up my son. How could I tell him that we let our cat escape? Could we buy some time and send him to a friend’s house, and just tell him the move was taking longer than we expected? After all, due to my complete freakout and subsequent inability to coherently instruct the moving crew, the move WAS taking way more time than expected.
Thank goodness we realized we shouldn’t lie to our tween about this. We realized it would be unforgivable to keep something so important from him.
So, my husband and I told him what we believed: that we hoped once the commotion of the moving ended, she would return. We promised that we’d all camp out in our old apartment in sleeping bags surrounded by cat food, with the door open, waiting for her.
Our son took in the news stoically and then said he had an idea he wanted to check. He walked into our empty apartment, which had been thoroughly searched by our moving crew, both adults in our family, and several friends and…found our cat, hiding on the top shelf of the linen closet, way in the back.
Had we lied to him, we would not have found her.
What did I learn from this scary experience
(other than don’t just tell a crew of movers “don’t go into that room.”)
- Telling the truth is usually the right choice.
- Our friends and neighbors, including total strangers are kind and amazing. We knew this, but it was a powerful reminder.
- Kids and their pets have a powerful connection.
- Moving is hell.
This experience reminded me that transitions are hard. When you are a cat, having big, strong people move all the furniture around you is terrifying, like someone taking apart your whole world.
That is a relatable feeling for a lot of us right now. Big pieces of our world, our jobs and our surroundings are in profound transitions. Many of these changes are out of our control.
Be kind to yourself as you muddle through this transition. Take breaks. Hide out in a cozy corner where you feel safe, then venture out to try things.
Wishing you well through all your transitions, even if it is “just” the transition to a summer schedule, are stressful. Especially on top of what we’ve all been through these last 16 months…
I’ll be over here unpacking. And petting the cat.
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