Never Too Old To Travel: Sully’s Big Adventure


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Hi, I’m Dr. Karyn! Read my introduction to learn more about me and meet my five hilarious cats: Clutch, Cyril, Alex, Zelda, and Zazzles.

When I came to the UK in 2012, it was supposed to be for a year or two. I would pick up locum work and travel, and eventually return to Australia once the travel bug stopped biting. Well, as I write to you here from Cornwall, UK, you can probably tell that life had other ideas. The trouble with travel is that the more of the world you see, the more you want to explore, so I kept extending my departure. Along the way I picked up a stray cat (Clutch), a husband (Reece), and began accumulating cats and dogs. By 2016, my parents started to suspect that I wasn’t going to be coming home anytime soon, and, as they were looking to move into a ‘retirement resort’, they thought it was high time I took back my tabby cat, Sullivan (aka Sully).

Now, Sully was 14 years old at this point, so I wasn’t convinced that it was the best plan, but as I had unintentionally abandoned her for the past four years, I felt that I couldn’t say no. And so began the logistical nightmare of transporting a pet overseas. Fortunately, she was leaving Australia, not entering, as the land down under does not make it easy – just ask Johnny Depp!

Stunning Sullivan
Stunning Sullivan

A Stressful Journey (for me)

I was obviously quite worried about Sully’s move overseas; not only would she be spending 24 hours on a plane (with a comfort stop halfway), she would be moving into a house with 3 dogs and 3 other cats, having only ever lived with one other cat. It was going to be quite the upheaval.

Well, I needn’t have worried!

From the moment we returned home from collecting her from the airport, she sauntered out of her carrier towards a bowl of food and never looked back.

Okay, it took her a few weeks to get used to sharing a house with dogs, a species she had never encountered before, but with food as a shared interest, Sully soon realized that she and the Labradors had something in common!

Poppy and Sully share a meal.
Poppy and Sully share a meal.

New World, New Wildlife, New Weather

Despite being a predominantly indoor cat, I would occasionally take her to explore in the garden. One morning I was stunned to hear her “I’ve caught something” sound, previously reserved for when she carried around her favorite toy, Fishy. There she was, looking both proud and surprised, with a dead vole in her mouth. I wasn’t hugely thrilled that she had just killed a lovely little creature, but I also wasn’t entirely convinced that the lovely little creature was not already dead when Sully ‘caught’ it. However, I was delighted to see that my elderly, world-weary cat was clearly finding her way in her new home.

Having grown up in the tropical climate of Brisbane, Queensland, adjusting to the much cooler British weather was another hurdle that Sully sailed over. In early 2018, we were hit by “The Beast from The East”, with unprecedented levels of snow covering our world in a thick white blanket; something of a novelty for me as well as Sully. But out she went, tiptoeing through the winter wonderland our garden had been transformed into, as though it was any other day.

Sully’s triumphant journey showed me that we should never underestimate our feline friends, even if they are getting on in years.

What is this cold stuff!
What is this cold stuff!

A Memorable Life 

In July 2018, my parents were over for a visit – not looking nearly as spritely as Sully did after her plane trip I might add – and they were delighted to see how happy and healthy Sully looked, and how well she had settled into her new life. I knew they had felt anxious about sending her here, and it was lovely that they could see how well she was doing.

Two weeks after my parent’s visit, Sully passed away in her sleep.

She hadn’t been unwell, and had shown no sign of being sick or in pain. She had lived a wonderful life, including two years in a strange new home, and although I was devastated, I couldn’t help but feel relieved that she had been happy right to the end. She had been able to spend her final years with me, and that she’d been able to say goodbye to Mum and Dad before she went.

As life journeys go, hers was pretty damn good.

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