The Cat Pee Terrorist

By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times

You really haven’t traveled until you’ve traveled with cat pee. It’s something that happens eventually when you have gone out of town and left your cat behind so many times that the cat becomes determined to accompany you on your next trip, in the most odorous way. Your cat’s message is: I love you so much, I’m going to let you carry my urine sample with you.

If you’re leaving for an international flight and your cat pees in your suitcase just before you leave for the airport, all you can do is close the suitcase and go. At Ngurah Rai Airport, I checked my bag and didn’t see it again until I arrived in New York City.

It has always surprised me that cat urine cannot be found on the Periodic Table of the Elements. Cat urine is powerful stuff. When allowed to ferment in a Samsonite for over 24 hours, the odor it emits can assault people with the force of teargas.

As the airplane sped through the night sky, hurtling passengers and cat pee toward the US, I realized I could have the ultimate gift for the airline’s duty free catalog — a Samsonite litter box. Fill it with an Armani suit and a couple of your favorite T-shirts, and your cat will be in heaven.

Arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport, I was a bit nervous retrieving my bag. What if customs asks me to open it? Carrying a suitcase full of lethal cat urine can really make you paranoid. It’s a bit like walking around a big city with a lot of cash on you – you’re sure everyone is looking at you and knows your secret. At baggage claim, I got an uneasy feeling that everyone was smelling me. They knew I was carrying the missing element from the Periodic Table.

So you can imagine my alarm when I saw, headed in my direction, two police dogs. Noses to the ground, they were sniffing luggage as they made their way through the crowd at the baggage carousel. These dogs are trained to sniff out drugs, not cat urine, I tried to reassure myself. I’ll be fine, I thought, although in the back of my mind I could see myself in court pleading, “Really, it was just cat urine, Your Honor.”

The dogs came closer – sniff, sniff, sniff – and stopped in front of my suitcase. Sniff, sniff. Pause. Sniff, sniff. Tail wag. Sniff, sniff, sniff. Wag, wag, wag.

There was just one thing on these dogs’ minds: “Score! Lookie, lookie what I’ve found, Barney. Get over here and snarf on this! Do you think she’s still in there?”

The dogs looked up at me with big broad smiles. The police officer mumbled something to the dogs. And then he waved me on. Whew!

After a day of scrubbing, soaking, deodorizing, bleaching, chlorinating and using Zen tactics to become one with the suitcase, the result was astonishing: a suitcase that smelled of fragrant cat urine.

It was very hard to properly get rid of such an offensive valise. If I left it at the hotel, they might think I had forgotten it and try to track me down. If someone opened it, they might suspect I was smuggling illegal elements. I tried to throw it away in a trash can but there wasn’t one big enough. If I just left it next to the trash can, people might think it was a bomb and notify the authorities of a suspicious package. Then they might track me down through their security cameras and arrest me for suspicious activity — they’d dub me the Cat Pee Terrorist.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I packed the suitcase and brought it back to Bali with me.

But between the US and Bali, an amazing thing happened. I had a stopover in Hong Kong for a few days and as I got off the airplane, I went to wait at the baggage carousel for my suitcase. This time, however, I didn’t have that uneasy feeling that everyone was smelling me. I wasn’t nervous at all. I watched as my bag came out on the conveyor belt. It passed in front of many people before it got to me, but no one crinkled up their noses in disgust. There were no drug-sniffing dogs around either.

But as I took the suitcase off the carousel, I noticed a crack in it. I couldn’t believe my luck. The airline had damaged my suitcase. Score!

I went to the airline office and showed them the damage. They apologized and offered to reimburse me for the cost of the suitcase. They even offered to dispose of it for me. I was soon repacking my things into a brand new suitcase.

Now that I think about it, though, the airline got off cheap. I told them the price of the suitcase and didn’t even charge them for the cat pee.

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