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.
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:
- The Cat Who Went to Paris
- A Cat Abroad: The Further Adventures of Norton, the Cat Who Went to Paris, and His Human
(talk about excellent use of keywords!)
- The Cat Who’ll Live Forever: The Final Adventures of Norton, the Perfect Cat, and His Imperfect Human.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.