Elvis, the Hamori’s cat, has left the building

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Elvis completes our little family in France
Elvis completes our little family in France

The story of Elvis has been going on a while now. A little kitten saved from certain death, rescued by a six-year-old girl on the other side of a fence. Angelina and Elvis could be a children’s book, a sentiment to how much we love animals. It went on 9-years, five-years in southern France where he would follow us around like a dog throughout the neighbourhood as I handed out ‘Go Vote!’ flyers, and then 5-years in Hungary after driving him through three more countries. Our family accepted him as a big part of our family. No decisions were ever made without thinking about our beloved cat.

He is getting older. Not as adaptable a cat that can be carted around in a handbag or baby stroller, not one to be stuck inside an apartment docile and calm. Elvis is a wanderer, a lover of sun and rolling around in warm sand. He used to like to chase birds, lizards and other cats, but now he is far more relaxed, laid back and prefers to find shade under our giant fig tree and watch and listen to the plethora of animals go by.

When we decided to move home to Canada he was the only thing I did not know how to handle. I sought advice on many different forums, people telling us how easy it is to cage a pet for 15 hour transatlantic flights, trekking through jungles with cat on lap, or how a family travels with their 2 cats all over the world. I jumped on board, I got the leash, I trained him to the cage, and fed him treats in preparation to the exhausting flight ahead.

After three weeks of this, I still did not feel good about it. I kept imaging my cat inside the cage thrashing about, screaming bloody murder, claws drawn, the cage moving about. We did smaller practice runs to the vets, and he simply would not calm down. The vet said it is hard to teach an old cat new tricks, and because Elvis’s dad was a wildman, he probably got more of those genes, the fright and flight nature than the docile mamma.

I booked the cargo bay for Elvis, paid a small fortune, got his vaccinations up to date, started the paperwork for pet transport to travel with us from Budapest to Frankfurt, from Frankfurt to Vancouver, three day quarantine in Vancouver, then a car ride on the ferry to our final destination Nanaimo British Columbia on Vancouver Island. We would leave at 6:00, drive 1 hour to the airport, wait 2 hours, then fly 1h45 minutes and we have a 30 minute layover to our connector to Vancouver, and a 10h30 minute flight to YVR. Then mom would pick us up, take the cat and we would be placed in three-day quarantine (even though we are vaccinated and for the highway robbery price of $1000 per person!!). After we would make our way to my mother’s, get the cat, our friends’ borrowed vehicle and make our way from Vancouver to Nanaimo over the ferry. 1h30 minute ferry ride plus an hour car ride, and perhaps an hour wait at the terminal depending on passenger demand but we figured about 3 hours from start to finish. If Elvis were younger, or different in nature I would say lets drug the boy up and call it a day. But I think he would need cat rehabilitation by the time we finally arrived to our rental cottage. Poor boy.

During all these preparation we kept asking around if anyone would adopt Elvis and we had many offers. One lady asked if he could work on the farm as a mouse catcher in the barn, but Elvis is a lover not a fighter. Another lovely lady from school said they are renovating, but he is welcome as a last resort. I thanked them both. Good people are all around. Another family said yes instantly but the little girl became highly allergic to her own cat and they had to change their minds. Also a very nice family with two children were moving to Balaton in two weeks and said they could take him then. I want to thank every single one of these lovely people who stepped up to help our family. So very nice.

We were at a neighbor gathering and I thought I would give it one last try. I was willing to pay someone serious coin to take the cat. No offers. They told me you cannot offer cash because the wrong situation will happen. A family has to take him from the generosity of their hearts. The next day we got a text message in English no less, telling me they have been following the story of Elvis the cat and think that he is destined to end up with them! They had just lost their three-year-old cat Tigris, hit by a car, and although it has been very hard on them as a family they have been looking for a new pet. At first the abandoned house next to them had kittens running all around, by they were very wild and difficult to catch. The mother asked her daughters, i want you both to go and talk about which cat you want. The little kitten or Elvis.

The girls went outside to talk about it and returned and said. ‘Mommy, the little kittens will have lots of people wanting them, but noone will want Elvis. We want Elvis in our family.’ She’s 11! Such beautiful insight! It made me cry to think of it; how on earth in this crazy world was it for this little girl to be so wise and loving? It can be a testament to the loving nature of this family. When I heard this story I knew I could happily give my furry baby Elvis to them.

Once we decided this was going to happen, we went back to the vet and had his teeth cleaned. He was ready and somewhat trained to his cage for a short journey. Stress levels were high, but we all agreed this was best. We braced ourselves waiting for the day to arrive.

It was not an easy day yesterday. Angelina showed the girls and the mom how to give Elvis his bath. Not that he has them often, maybe twice-three times a year, usually in the hot summer when he loves to roll around in the sand. We showed them how he likes to be held; over the should and pet from behind not in front, how he likes to watch TV on his special blanket and how we call his name and the sounds we made to get his attention. We gave them his special food, the litter and box, the carrier cage, his toys and the up to date pet passport with all his paperwork inside. It was time.

I had no idea how this would go. We packed up their car, said our goodbye. I couldn’t handle the emotions so I had to go inside. My family followed. There were many tears. Not a dry eye. I came back out to wave goodbye wiping tears as they ran down my face. I told the neighbours that this was not an easy day for us.

After a while I send Elvis’ new family a message. The mom was so kind she sent us pictures as they travelled the 1,5 hours home. He eventually calmed down. Once home they let him out and he explored the house. She sent us a video. In the evening right before bed, they sent us this picture.

Elvis has officially left the building! <3

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Our mission is to share our family's move to France, and now to Hungary, how to slow travel with kids, and give tips and ideas as to what works and what doesn't being an expat and a travelling family in Europe. Expat experts on an adventure!

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