Norton the Traveling Cat Trilogy – Pet Travel Book Club

This post is dedicated to the traveling cats of BlogPaws.

A Cat on a Leash

As I wound my way through the crowded mass of people and dogs, I saw something that surprised me. Sitting on the carpet, quiet in the midst of chaos, was a grey cat on a leash. He looked peaceful, serene, and perfectly at home.

It was my first encounter with a traveling cat.

cat on a leash

Cat on a leash – not at BlogPaws

Cats Hate to Travel

At least that’s what I’d alway heard.

Sure, people who show cats must travel. But I had an image of a huge, municipal auditorium filled with people with bandaged arms holding surly cats up to a judge.

And what about all those mobile vet clinics that come to your home so you and your cat don’t have to undergo the torture of traveling to the vet’s office?

So spotting my first traveling cat at BlogPaws, and then another, and another impressed me. And got me thinking.

Is it true that many cats might enjoy travel but they never get the chance? Perhaps, if cats were socialized to travel as youngsters, like many dogs are, they would take to it as well?

Meet Norton the Traveling Cat

I don’t read many cute cat books. So it’s no surprise that I missed Peter Gether’s publishing juggernaut that was the Norton Trilogy:

But as the Pet Travel Contributor at A Traveler’s Library, I didn’t want anyone to think I was speciesist. I had to review these books about traveling with an admittedly remarkable cat.

Sometimes it Pays to Be Ignorant

Writer Peter Gethers didn’t know anything about cats when Norton came to live with him. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even like cats. But from the first moment he saw the Scottish Fold kitten, Gethers was in love.

Scottish Fold

A Scottish Fold Kitten – not Norton

As a first time cat person, Gethers didn’t “know” that cats are solitary hunters who didn’t miss their people when they go. He didn’t “know” it wasn’t necessary for him to spend every minute with the kitten. And, he didn’t “know” that cats hate to travel.

So when he had to go somewhere, Gethers slipped the tiny kitten into his coat pocket and allowed him to explore Manhattan from a safe spot.

When they went to their rented beach house on the weekends, Gethers didn’t “know” that cats would never follow a person on their walk. So he set Norton down on the ground and tried it.

Norton walked close to him the entire time.

When Gethers came out of a store where the cat couldn’t follow, he’d call to Norton where he last left him and they’d continue on their walk together.

Without preconceptions of what cats are like, and a loving desire to give the cat the best life possible, Gethers allowed Norton’s unique personality to express itself—all around the country and abroad.

The Cat Who Went to Paris… and Italy… and…

Over time, Peter Gethers learned a lot about traveling with cats. Or at least one particular cat.

He learned

  • American Airlines could be hysterical about discovering a cat in their cabin while Air France allowed Norton to sit on his lap.
  • To keep disposable, folding litter boxes in constant supply.
  • That cats were as welcome in Parisian restaurants, shops, and hotels as any dog.
  • A bathtub might be an effective substitute for a litter box in a pinch, but don’t ever let Harrison Ford know you’ve used it.
  • And much, much more.

But mostly he learned that he couldn’t imagine life without Norton.

By traveling together, Gethers and Norton strengthened their bond. And developed a relationship that left the writer forever changed.

Travel With Your Pet (even if you just stay home)

When we vacation with Honey, I can count on several people coming up to pet her while wistfully telling me they left their dog at home. They just need to get a little doggy “fix” until they return to their own special friend. I always wonder why they didn’t just bring their dog with them. It’s not impossible. We did it.

golden retriever rolling in the sand

Now that I’ve finished greeting my adoring fans, I can take time for a little sand bath. Ahhhhhhh!

Yes, traveling with your pet will change what you can do. You can’t belly tup to an American bar with your pooch, ferret, or kitty beside you. But having new experiences with someone will always build your relationship.

And yes, I know not all animals travel well. Some get car sick. Others are fearful. And some are too old for major changes in their routine.

But why not promise yourself today to take a mini vacation with your animal friend? Even if you don’t go any farther than your favorite couch or the best squirrel-stalking bushes in your backyard, it’s worth it.

I hear even imaginary Paris is lovely in the spring.


It’s Pet Travel Thursday over at A Traveler’s Library. Stop by to read my full review of the Norton trilogy and leave a comment. And while you’re there, see blog editor Vera’s great cat photos from her travels to Greece and Ireland.

Disclaimers: The non-Honey photos are from Flickr and are used under a Creative Commons license. Click on the image to learn more about the photographer. The book links take you to Amazon. If you order books through this link it won’t add to your cost but it will give me a few pennies to pay for web hosting. So thank you.

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  1. So now are we saying “Be the cat?” Love this.

    I am working on Bob. He sometimes comes when he is called (but not always) but he acts so much like the dogs I think he will eventually get it. Then what shall I teach him? :-)

    Although the other night I called and called but no response. We spent 10 minutes looking for him only for him to come sleepily out from under the bed….LOL Gotta love the cat.

    • I think we should “Be” any number of animals besides humans. Today, i’m voting for “Be the Sloth.”

      I once knew someone who taught his cat to fetch. Think Bob’s up for it?

  2. My first kitten was trained to the dog chain where I would put our dog on occasion. But if it started raining, I hightailed it out to him fast so he could come back inside! I forgot, though, that cats as well as dogs can get fleas! Oy vey! I loved that cat and am sure he would have traveled with me no problem.
    Am hopping over to the Traveler site for the full review; how refreshing to hear of a man who didn’t know anything yet kept his cat safe and well bonded to him; a lesson for us all.

    • I bet your cat loved being able to hang outside safely. Although I hope the birds didn’t torture him too much.

      A house near me enclosed their entire back yard (it’s a pretty small backyard) so their cat could sit outside and watch the birds without being able to kill them or getting into trouble himself.

  3. I saw Norton before…I think on a TV spot and he was being carried in a back pack. Pretty cool. I was pretty ignorant when I got Chester too. If I hadn’t of been, I probably would have held limiting beliefs about small dogs and we would have never discovered his love of hiking.

    • Sometimes being a little dumb is really smart, huh? :)

      Good thing you didn’t hang around with lots of people who consider dachshunds lap dogs or Chester (and you) would be having a lot less fun.

  4. When I heard you were reviewing cat books I was so excited! I’d heard of this series before but hadn’t thought of picking one up. So I purchased The Cat Who Went to Paris for my ereader last week and even though I am not yet finished (I do all my reading on the bus in ten minute intervals) I am totally in love with Norton and the entire idea behind a cat treated as a normal pet, instead of just as a cat.

    Our cat does not travel well. At all. The entire five day journey from Alberta to Nova Scotia had him howling in his carrier for almost every hour in the car. The leash was a disaster. I won’t even go there. But this was all my fault. If I was to make a similar journey with him now I know things would go a lot differently. Cats may not be dogs, but they aren’t that different either.

    Thanks for the motivation to start reading!

  5. For me no vacation is a vacation without my pets…which is probably why I have a predilection for dogs over cats. But I am certain that many cats could travel well and happily…they may never hang their heads out the window, but certainly they can find their own ways to enjoy a family trip!

  6. Thanks for the book review, it sounds good. We are going away on our first weekend trip with TWO dogs in a car and in a hotel room…wish us luck!

  7. I think one of my cats would have loved traveling and the other would have HATED it! lol You are preaching to the choir about taking trips with your pets, though. We just spent a couple of days with a good friend and his dog. They’re taking a tour of some of their favorite Facebook friends and all of them have dogs that want to meet his dog. And of course I love taking ours places. I’m always looking for something new and cool to do with the dogs!

  8. Yea, another book to add to my ‘to read’ list. Sounds like a hoot. :)

    I’ve had some weird cats – one who walked on a leash and another who didn’t but did follow me and Beau as we went on our walks. I might even have a picture of that…. Hmmm, have to go digging now. 😉

  9. Kathy Sorensen says:

    I read the trilogy years ago and fell in love with Norton and his human! I had great cats and do enjoyed Norton’s adventures. It was also so heart warming to “watch” as Peter and Norton bonded. The third and final book is a wonderful but heartbreaking tribute to Norton. You might want to read in private. I was on a plane sobbing but couldn’t stop reading!

  10. We sometimes get people who bring their cats in on a leash, I don’t get it because they never let them down to walk around on it.

    The kids have been begging us to go on a family vacation, which is fine but I have to take the dogs to! Maybe next year, when I am older and more sane:)2 kids and 2 dogs on vacation scares me:)))

  11. My kitty is not fond of travel. She will do it grudgingly.


  1. […] After you read this, be sure to see the Pet Travel Book Club entry at Something Wagging This Way Comes to learn more about pet travel and these books. […]