For a very detailed description of how “Spamalot” the show travels, check out my co-stage manager Jovon’s blog entry here.
Since my blog is all about traveling with Tallulah, I thought I should include an entry about exactly how I manage to cart my cat around the country.
I was extremely nervous about the prospect of trying to bring my cat on tour, especially since I had never toured before and didn’t really know what to expect. The thought of leaving Tallulah behind broke my heart though – when I adopted her I made a commitment to her and there was no way I was going to go back on that commitment just because a job had come up. And, being that she was young enough to handle it, I thought I’d give bringing her along with me a shot.
As I said though, I was very nervous about it. I am so grateful to my friend Ruth, who brought her cat with her on the “Dame Edna” tour, for all the helpful advice she gave me about how logistically to manage it. I also had a number of conversations with Brian, who at the time was traveling his two dogs on the Spam tour.
I was so afraid that at some point in the travels Tallulah would either get out of a hotel room, freak out on an airplane or be incredibly miserable. Luckily, we have been with “Spamalot” for five months now and at Hartford Stage for a month before that and none of that has happened. I have a very well-adjusted, well-behaved, happy cat traveling with me who sleeps next to me at night, talks to me when I get home, and makes me laugh every day.
So here’s the lowdown on how Tallulah travels:
First of all, she has a kick-ass cat bag – its the Sherpa Delta Deluxe bag. It’s a great bag for a number of reasons – it is made to fit under the seats in most airplanes, it has three flaps that roll down to conceal the cat almost entirely (which is good when sneaking her into hotels and restaurants), it has a loop on the back side of it which allows it to sit on top of my suitcase with the loop over the handle of the suitcase, and it has locking zippers (which is good when your cat figures out how to unzip the bag with their head, as Tallulah has). Since we started the tour, I have been collecting patches and pins from all our stops and decorating Tallulah’s bag. She is a very well-travelled cat!
We travel mostly by plane and bus. Ruth had suggested that I get some Bach’s Rescue Remedy and feed Tallulah a dropper full before getting on a plane. Bach’s is made for humans, to control stress, but you can give it to animals as well. I give Tallulah a dropper full about a half an hour before we leave the hotel to fly – it keeps her mellow. She’s such a mellow cat anyway and I don’t have any trouble with her making noise, so if we are only traveling by bus, I don’t give her any of the drops. I think it helps with stress on the plane though.
Flying with a cat is pretty easy – I have papers from the vet which say she is healthy and all her shots are up to date, but I have never been asked to show them to anyone. I always check the website of the airline we are taking before we go in case they happen to be very strict about pet papers. Some airlines say they need papers which have been given to you by the vet in the last five weeks – but so far we haven’t flown on any of those really strict airlines. Most airlines also charge a fee for flying with a pet – usually it’s about $80. At the airport, the most stressful part of the day is going through security. I have to take Tallulah out of her bag and carry her through the security area, while her bag goes through the x-ray machine. She is generally very calm and good, but if it happens to be a loud and crowded day at the airport, she can get a bit spooked. So far she hasn’t gotten away from me yet and I have also escaped any battle wounds. She usually just clings tightly to me until we are through and she can climb back in the bag. On the plane, she is happy to be under the seat. She usually just sleeps and doesn’t make a peep. No one usually knows I have a cat with me.
On the buses, I make sure we sit far away from anyone who is allergic to cats. I usually unzip the top of the bag and leave it on the seat next to me. Tallulah sometimes sits up and looks out the window, but generally she stays in the bag. From Tampa to Naples, I drove a rental car, so Tallulah hopped out of her bag and slept under the passenger seat the whole way.
Karl, our company manager, has been very accommodating in booking Tallulah on company transportation – a lot of the cast have dogs, and while some people drive the tour with their animals, others have to make their own airplane reservations as there are too many animals to book all of us on the company flights. Since I usually travel with the crew and Elaine is the only other crew member with a pet (her dog Tahzah), Karl goes ahead and books us on the company flights even though we have animals. The buses are generally not a problem, and usually there are quite a few pets on board – Callie and her cat, Oscar, and Angelina and her dog, Missy, among others.
Each company member is lucky enough to get a trunk which can hold up to 200 lbs of belongings, which travels on the trucks with the set to each city. I keep cat food and litter in my trunk and only travel enough food in my suitcase to get us through a week, plus litter, litter box, liner, cat toys, door scratching post, food and water bowls, placemat, dustpan and brush. One of my suitcases is a rolling duffle, and has a bottom compartment which is perfect for all my cat stuff – it all fits nicely and is kept apart from my clothes, which I like. I wash out the litter box every travel morning and pack up all the cat things right before we leave. Tallulah has gone up to eight hours without access to a litter box and has never had an accident. She’s such a good cat. I have a wee wee pad in the bottom of her bag just in case, but so far, no accicents. Knock on wood.
For buying supplies, if I happen to have a car in a city, I will just find the local pet store and go there and pick up stuff. But more often that not, I just order food and litter online fromPetco and have it delivered to the theater – they are very fast and I usually have my order within a couple of days of submitting it.
So that’s how Tallulah travels. If anyone ever considers taking their cat on the road with them, I say DO IT. It’s the best decision I’ve made in a long time. I mean, look at that face! How could I leave her behind??