Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bubba's First Ocean Crossing (1998)

Our nine year old Stefanie wanted a kitten so badly that when I had to fly back to the states for some medical treatment, she maneuvered her way with her daddy and brought a kitten in the house. She paid 500 francs (in 1996 that was equivalent of $1) for this beautiful kitten.

Somewhere in a file is a note that Stefanie wrote me while I was in the states. A note where she was trying to vindicate herself for doing what I had told her not to do until I returned. Being a cat lover since I was young, I had already had my own bouts with mites and such from bringing in stray cats. That was what I was trying to avoid. I had told Stefanie that we would pick out a kitten together when I returned from America. But nine year olds are not known for their patience, are they?

Bubba weaved his way into our home and thankfully did not bring mites or any other disease with him. Two years later, we started packing up for a year's furlough in the states. The conversation turned to what we would do with our Bubba cat. The results of that conversation was the beginning of 15 incredible and blessed years with Bubba. His adventures supersede those of many humans. Below is his first one taken from my book In Every Place.

WHAT??? I'm not human? 

Bubba our cat was with us on the flight, which was both miraculous and humorous. Jeff had tried to hold up under the torrential pleading to bring Bubba to the States, but he could not. He was sorely outnumbered. The four females whom he loved dearly, dragooned the resolve right out of him. With the decision made that we would lug a simple one-dollar African house cat
to the states, we then had to get the proper immunizations and paperwork for said cat. That chore was placed soundly on me by my dear husband and for good reason. I could not imagine leaving
that beautiful cat whom we had all learned to love. I admit it, I had been in the middle of the campaign to take Bubba to the states with us!

Hailing a taxi a couple of days before our departure back to the United States, I thrust a howling Bubba in the back seat with me and whisked off to a vet. The decision to travel with this cat to the states took on a cruel form as the poor creature endured injections and extensive prodding before we were given the official declaration of good health papers required by American customs. The vet also gave me a couple of tranquilizers to give Bubba during the trip if needed. Both the cat and I were exhausted by the time we returned to the guest house. I was tempted to take one of those tranquilizers myself by the end of that day.

Departure day arrived and we headed to the airport, five humans and one very grumpy cat in a cage. We checked in early enough so we would hopefully be able to take the cat into the cabin with us. Most airlines only allow a limited number of small animals to travel in the cabin during a flight. The rest must travel in an oxygenated area in the belly of the plane. I popped half a tranquilizer into the agitated cat’s mouth to save all of our sanity. He was clearly disturbed about being kidnapped from his motherland, chortling loudly, letting everyone know that none of this was his idea. 

After we were in the air for a couple of hours, and when everyone was sleeping, I bent down to check on the cat in his cage. Lying on his side in a rather odd position, I noticed his tongue was hanging out, his eyes rolled back, and his chest barely moving. I quickly punched Jeff, waking him out of his sleep, and said with a loud whisper, “The cat! Look at the cat! I think he’s dying! What are we going to do? Look at him!” Jeff reluctantly - yes, very slowly and reluctantly, not telling me what he was thinking - bent down and looked into the cat’s cage. His eyes were huge as he sat up in his seat and said, “What are we going to do with a dead cat on an airplane?? How will we dispose of his body?” This reaction told me exactly what he was thinking and hoping. I knew he would be NO help with this brewing crises, so I spent the next couple of hours shaking the cat, talking to him, and forcing him to open his eyes much like you would do with someone who had suffered a concussion.

Thankfully, he did survive the trip, and we were able to get him into the country without having to put him through the costly quarantine process. Jeff had put his foot down on that issue before we left Ivory Coast, saying that we would not be spending money on paying quarantine fees for a cat from Africa. So, we all prayed for God to get Bubba through customs, and He did. It was again an amazing time of growing our faith in seeing what God could do even for missionary children who wanted to bring their cat with them back to their homeland.

So, Bubba became nationalized into the American way of life and learned to eat Fancy Feast instead of a homemade fish and rice concoction. When I took him to the American vet a few weeks later, I asked the vet to test the strength of the tranquilizers I was given in Ivory Coast. He called a couple of weeks later to tell me the drug was strong enough for a 50 - 60 pound dog. No wonder he had that reaction on the plane. And to think, the vet in Ivory Coast had recommended given him the entire pill. If Jeff had only known that, I'm not sure what he would have done.

Stefanie with Bubba (who always thought Christmas
 trees were his own personal forest) in 2008

One out of Bubba's 9 lives cashed in on that trip!! But there was to be more....