Kitty on Board

funny pictures of cats with captions

How do you travel 3,000 miles with a cat in tow?

Well, as all you animal lovers out there know, you have to patronize “pet-friendly” motels. These typically tack on a surcharge that ranges from $5 to $30, depending on how upscale the establishment is.

I know. I can hear you asking: Why bother to declare the cat? Just stay at motels where you don’t have to enter through the lobby, and ask for a room at the back.

Despite a lifetime of Sagittarian procrastination, I find it difficult to lie about traveling with a cat, particularly when a sign at the front desk warns that an $85 fee will be assessed if you bring an “undeclared” pet to a room.

This must be my natal Jupiter in Sagittarius at the midpoint of the transiting Saturn in Virgo/Uranus in Pisces opposition: Traveling with a cat named Bogey.

I love Bogey, but I have to admit that I got really tired of taking apart the kitty carrier, using the bottom for a litter box, cleaning it out, and putting it back together again.

Luckily, in Rio Rancho, N.M., I discovered eco-friendly disposable cat boxes at a PetSmart that made my life a lot easier, especially when I had to set up the litter box in the passenger seat in response to a pointed “Meow.” (You’ll be glad to know that I stopped the Jeep in order to do this.)

I guess I could have put Bogey on a harness and taken him for “walks” at the rest stops the way dog owners do. But I just didn’t feel right doing that. Cats aren’t meant to be on a leash. So I ended up turning the Jeep into a moving litter box.

Maybe one of the car companies will add a litter box as an extra, the way they have with drink holders and TVs. I’ll put my money on a Japanese car maker to do the honors, since the Japanese excel at disposing of waste in a civilized fashion.

If you’ve ever worn special Hello Kitty slippers to step into the bathroom of a Japanese home, you know what I’m talking about.

This Saturn Station’s a Real Bummer

Those stimulus checks from the government started going out earlier this week, but the handout from Uncle Sam isn’t much consolation for skyrocketing food and energy prices. Jupiter is on my Sun so I’m supposed to be feeling expansive, but I’ve been feeling like the Grim Reaper the last couple of days.

The May 2 “station” (a powerful time when planets appear to change direction) of Saturn is at 2 degrees of Virgo, so we’re hearing a lot about how folks can’t afford health care, how the government may be trying to cover up the suicide rate among veterans of the Iraq war, and how the working class in this country is being nickeled and dimed. Oh, let’s not forget child slave labor in China.

Virgo rules work and, as Saturn changes direction and begins to move forward again, the news about employment won’t be very good. In fact, I expect the April jobs report due out May 2, the day of the Saturn station, to be a real eye-opener. It’s a tough time to be graduating and trying to land your first job.

For the Pluto in Virgo generation, which includes people born between October, 1956, and October, 1971, Saturn’s transit through Virgo, which lasts until 2010, isn’t going to be a lot of fun. I’m a member of the Pluto in Virgo cohort and my new mantra is “Less is more.” Words to live by.

Just ask the people who are selling off their prized possessions to put food on the table or gas in the tank. Here’s a particularly depressing article from the AP:

The Pluto in Virgo crowd is being forced to strip down to bare essentials. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Even if we no longer have the discretionary income or credit line to engage in retail therapy, there are still some coping mechanisms to deal with Saturn in Virgo: You can shower your pet with attention, obsess about whether your food is organic enough and whether you’re taking the right vitamin and mineral supplements, rid your household of toxic and possibly carcinogenic cleaning solutions, and try to make sure your “downward dog” posture is the very best in your yoga class.

Pets, nutrition, and health in general are ruled by Virgo. With Saturn moving through the sign, there’s a lot of effort devoted to perfection and controlling the things you can, like your weight or your carbon footprint — not that there’s anything wrong with that, as Jerry Seinfeld liked to say.

If none of these strategies appeals to you, you could always go to the Container Store and get serious (Saturn) about organizing (Virgo) all your stuff. By the way, all of these pronouncements are particularly true for the Pluto in Virgo crowd, which the media once dubbed “yuppies,” but they apply to everybody.

Another favorite Saturn in Virgo pursuit: finding fault with your co-workers. With a new round of corporate downsizing on the way, watch how people look for some character defect to justify why a particular colleague got the ax. “She talked on the phone too much at work” or “he didn’t spend enough time schmoozing with the higher-ups” will be the refrain.

By focusing on some perceived flaw of the pink-slip recipient, we’re telling ourselves that it couldn’t happen to us. Yeah, the gal who calls in sick twice a month may be first on the hit list, but that doesn’t mean you or I aren’t vulnerable when our company decides to outsource to Bangalore or Guadalajara.

As the you-know-what hits the fan, watch how people engage in self-protective behavior by criticizing the victim. A case in point: I was recently reading a story online about factory closings in Ohio and the resulting hardships for the local populace. One of the reader comments noted that in an accompanying photo of a hard-up family, one of the kids had a Nintendo Game Boy in his hand. The reader asked why the family was blowing money on electronic devices when they were having trouble making ends meet. This reminded me of the Reagan-era rant about welfare moms driving Cadillacs.

Who knows? The Game Boy could have been a gift from a generous grandma or the kid could have spent every weekend mowing lawns to save up for it. I guess neither of those thoughts crossed the mind of the commenter, who seemed to imply that by eschewing a Game Boy, the family could bring the factory jobs back from China and stop the run on rice at Sam’s Club. It reminds me of the old saw, “When your neighbor loses his job, it’s a recession. When you lose yours, it’s a depression.”

I’m all for taking responsibility for one’s behavior, but blaming the victim seems to have replaced baseball as the national pastime!

As I noted in my previous post (“Saturn in Virgo: Thrifty is Nifty”), Saturn’s current passage through Virgo is like a rerun of That Seventies Show. I just never thought I’d have to live through it again. As Mars moves into Virgo in early July, people are going to start getting really angry. Americans are going to be feeling quite vulnerable to forces beyond their control on our so-called Independence Day.

Here’s the song that keeps going through my head. According to my research, it was released by the Police in 1980, the last time Saturn was in Virgo.

Driven to tears
Protest is futile, nothing seems to get through
What’s to become of our world, who knows what to do
Driven to tears