Off With Their Cats! To France!

Stevie Benanty had it in her mind that she and her husband, Dan, and cats were going to move. And not to just anywhere. They were moving to France.

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H&J La Mas de Pierre
Hicks & Joralemon having just arrived at the Le Mas de Pierre, their first stop during their move to France. (Photo: Hicks & Joralemon)

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Traveling with dogs seems almost pedestrian today and that can be said of some cats, too. The likes of Amelia, sailing the ocean blue, or Kunkush aka Dias, whose unintentional adventure took him from Iraq to Greece to Norway, and others, have had their stories cataloged and told. Now we find a pair of orange brothers who have made a move across the pond from Brooklyn to Nice, ready to take the continent by storm. Or at least by car.

Stevie Benanty had it in her mind, for a while, that she and her husband of one year, Dan,  and cats Hicks, and Joralemon, were going to move.  And they were not going to move just anywhere. The game plan was to move to France. Stevie, who is the Editor of the site, a conversation, revealed in her recent Letter from the Editor, they would be picking up and moving abroad.  It was not by any means a spontaneous decision, and there had been other European countries in contention. Regardless, it did pose some obvious questions, such as how does one travel internationally with cats.

Life With Cats had the opportunity to ask Stevie about the decision they made and share some of her insight into moving to a foreign country with pets.

H&J babies
The kittens that stole the hearts of Stevie and Dan. (Photo: Hicks & Joralemon)

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LIFE WITH CATS:      First things first, tell us the story about Hicks and Joralemon? How did you come by the pair of adorable brothers?

STEVIE BENANTY:   Hicks and Joralemon came into our lives in March of 2014. My husband (then boyfriend) told me we could get kittens when I moved to Washington DC from New York City with him. I knew I wanted to adopt so I contacted local animal rescue groups. Within days—I don’t know if my husband knew it would be so quick!—we went to meet a woman who was fostering a mom and her two newborn babies. The second we met Hicks and Joralemon we were in love. They were tiny, rambunctious, orange kitties with the same personalities they have now. We just immediately clicked—they’ve been following me from room to room ever since. First we were back and forth in Washington DC with them, then full time in Brooklyn, and now we’re in the South of France. They had their first taste of international travel and they were super stars!

H&J box
No, you will not be traveling via post no matter how much you may prefer boxes to carriers. (Photo: Hicks & Joralemon)

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LWC:     How long had you been contemplating making a move of this kind? I know from reading a bit that it has been a consideration for about a year, but was it something that had been in the back of your minds for some time? And did you ever think you would be making that move with your cats?

SB:        There was never any doubt that Hicks and Joralemon would come with us. In the initial quest to decide on options of where to move, we actually crossed off countries with quarantine laws—I couldn’t do that! We’d been contemplating the move for a while but 6 months out, we started to really plan how we could move them with us safely. We were going as a unit!

H&J ready to move
It is always important to have the right supervisor for packing. (Photo: Hicks & Joralemon)

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LWC:     Have you ever traveled with pets before? How have you handled the preparation for the move? And how are the cats preparing?

SB:        They’ve been with us on short flights from Washington DC to NYC a few times and they’ve been on long car rides. Since they were babies, they were perfect in the car—they’d just pass out. So we were hoping they’d be the same on a long plane ride but I definitely was super nervous until their vet reassured me. Luckily the plane from New York to France is within the allowed time limit (under 10 hours) for pets to fly with you in the cabin. We even stopped in Munich on the way to Nice, France instead of going nonstop because the plane to Nice is smaller, thus they’d have smaller crates and I didn’t want them to be cramped. We got the biggest sized crates allowed, portable water/food bowls, disposable litter boxes, and packed small things of litter and dry food in case they needed it. Of course we also got them collars and leashes so we could hold onto them easily going through security. For the stopover in Munich, we actually rented a room that way we could let them out to walk around, eat, or use their disposable litter box. They slept the whole plane over and made no noise thankfully.

H&J prep for french cuisine
As part of cultural preparation, I must investigate this French bread. (Photo: Hicks & Joralemon)

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LWC:     Is there anything that made you nervous about traveling with your cats, particularly as you are going to another country?

SB:        I was VERY nervous but at their checkup, the vet explained to me just how long cats can go without food and water so an overnight flight is not a big deal (as long as they are with you in the cabin). I felt much better and they proved her right.

H&J rough travel
Moving can be exhausting. (Photo: Hicks & Joralemon)

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LWC:     Once you got to France, it seemed your plans were fairly loose. Do you plan to continue your editing, writing, and interviewing? Do you think this change will help you to evolve your site?

SB:        So we actually arrived in Nice, France last week and so far, so good! Everything is all digital so my lifestyle site, a conversation, is easily able to be maintained from anywhere. We will be moving to a new country in October (we know where but aren’t ready to announce it) so we are enjoying learning more about the area!

H&J holding down carpet
Doing their part to help by holding down the carpet. (Photo: Hicks & Joralemon)

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LWC:     How will your cats help you to adjust to life in a new country?

SB:        They’re part of our little family so it feels like we’re all doing something together. When we move in October to a new country we’re going to do a long road trip with them and do a few stop overs along the way—what a fun and hilarious way to see Europe with our two orange kitties in the backseat!

H&J baguette theif
Just checking to make sure it is a baguette. (Photo: Hicks & Joralemon)

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LWC:     Is there anything that might surprise us about your decision to move with your cats?

SB:        Just how prepared my husband and I were to move them! We even made sure our house in France had new screens installed ahead of our arrival so I could be sure they would not get outside and get lost. Most of my worry about this trip was about them being comfortable!

H&J Stevie photobombed by Dan
Dan photobombs Stevie as she shows off her new favorite lipstick. (Photo: a conversation)

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LWC:     Any last thoughts to share following your jet across the Atlantic?

SB:        If you’re thinking about moving abroad with your pet but have hesitations—don’t! Just take the proper time and do the proper research and leave the rest up to your pets. Animals are so strong and resilient and if you are prepared and relaxed, they will be too!

You can see all the happenings with Hicks and Joralemon, as well as Stevie’s take on things on their Instagram accounts and at a conversation.

H&J relax
Time to relax. (Photo: Hicks & Joralemon)

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