WE all have bucket lists, and I want to add "Travelling to Sydney with a cat in your car" to mine, because seriously, a bucket would have been handy.
If you had a caring bone in your body you wouldn't do such a thing to a cat, let alone humans. But therein lies the irony. We did it because we cared.
Our cat, dear Mish Mash, is getting on.
In feline terms she's the equivalent of a Galapagos tortoise-years old.
And as often happens with older cats, she developed hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is an enlargement of the thyroid gland.
Symptoms include a spazzy old cat pooing and spewing everywhere, and humans going soft in the head.
It's one of those unfortunately treatable conditions for cats because "unfortunately", as Dr Spock might say, it tests the empathy response.
What if it were grandma? Hmmm?
The cat is nuked with iodine at a specialist clinic in Sydney for 10 days.
There are lead-lined cages, radioactive wastes and when they say the coat's got a glow, they're not kidding.
But the prognosis is good.
So, what to do?
Coming from a brutal line of staunchly Catholic, yet occasionally pro-Darwinian, dairy farmers, the answer would have been simple in simpler days.
If natural selection didn't occur quick enough on the farm, practical folk used to lend a hand and quip afterwards: "God moves in mysterious ways."
One generation on it seems I've developed another treatable disease called "middle class-ness". Remedies include accelerating one's descent into the ranks of the poor by shelling out on cat care.
Honestly though, it was never in doubt.
(Actually it was, until just before the "you're not the man I married" chat.)
The truth is we've become senselessly attached to our pussy in that curiously human way.
You only get one life and, to borrow a quote from Blade Runner (apologies Ridley Scott and Philip K. Dick): "Mish has seen things you wouldn't believe."
Forget "Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion", growing up with us has produced far weirder events.
I don't know about electric sheep, but Mish definitely dreams of electric blankets.
And if we decided "time to die", those moments would be lost, "like tears in the rain".
(Notwithstanding the reality that Mish could snuff it any time, like the rest of us.)
So the course was set.
As mentioned, we had never travelled long distances with a cat in a car. So we thought we'd up the stakes straight off.
By chance, three members of the family unit were heading to New Zealand in January. The fortnight away coincided with the treatment time for Mish.
So it was decided to combine the trips to Sydney - cat to vet, travellers to airport.
Why make things simple when you can make them complex, eh? Combine incontinent, travel-averse cat with strict departure deadline - what could go wrong?
In the tradition of spy movies, the clandestine cat drop-off/pick-up point was the Krispy Kreme Donut carpark at Sydney Domestic terminal (to mesh in with the International terminal drop-off ... and avoid brown bombers and probably snipers). Very Bourne Identity .
Mish was vocal the moment she was put in a cage in the car; in that soothing "I'm being rendered to Libya" kind of way.
As we headed past Wallsend it was suggested the incessant meowing was because she hadn't been fed.
The vet had advised not to "give her ammo", for obvious reasons, but a mercy meal was administered near Dora Creek.
Shortly after, at about 120km/h, give or take a few speeding tickets, Mish filled the interior of the car with a most joyous aroma. Hosanna in the highest. Solid evidence of relief, though, thank god.
With a distinct hint that we could all die if something wasn't done, we pulled over and executed a truly desperate clean-up operation in the confines of the cabin.
Talk about car twister.
Once back on the road, Mish urinated.
Yes, there were blankets and kitty litter in the cage, but Mish skilfully missed them all.
There was no pulling over this time because we were running behind schedules. Innovation was required.
Top marks to the passenger who landed those tissues so accurately.
Then, just when we thought things were settling down, Mish started making disturbing noises (like she had swallowed a goose), and threw up.
The trifecta. Poo, spew and widdly doo.
We took the fact she proceeded to lie in her vomit as an act of good will.
Not that we blamed her (she had hyperthyroidism after all), but compassion was running short. And remember, we were doing this because we cared.
That I found the Krispy Kreme Donut carpark in unfamiliar Sydney airport at peak hour Saturday morning can be put down to one scientific explanation - fluke.
But it all got done.
I'm looking forward to the return trip next week. I'll be better for the run. I just hope Mish doesn't have them.