I never planned on owning a cat. Now and again, I would think that having a dog might be nice. But both felt like way too much of a commitment for me. And yet for the last decade, I have had one of each. Next month, I’ll introduce the dog. But today, let me introduce you to The Road Cat.
Story of the Weeds
The house I sold to become an RVer was one I purchased in 2007. But my first house was a 700 square foot condo. My unit was on the end and angled so I backed up against a lot of greenery which I loved. In the summer of 2005, my sister was visiting me. It was a beautiful summer and we spent a lot of time sitting outside.
I don’t remember the first time we saw the cat but as we sat outside, a cat approached. My sister sort of went crazy. To this day, I remind her of “don’t touch that nasty thing” and “it has bugs” and “make it go away” and the like.
The cat was friendly and kept trying to walk into the open door of my house. Even though it didn’t seem like it had bugs, I did draw the line at my house. It wasn’t long before every time we were outside, the cat came to visit. She seemed to be living in the greenery on the side of my house.
I remember coming home from one of our outings and I purposely spoke aloud. When the cat heard my voice, she came trotting out from the weeds as if she’d been waiting for me.
Still, I never intended to keep her. My sister left a few days after we first saw the cat. I told myself if the cat was still there the next day, I would take it to animal control. It wasn’t right to leave it in the weeds.
Of course, the next day she was still there. I went to the store and bought a kennel to transport her to animal control. That was the plan. That’s what I told myself.
Even before pets, I was a regular donor to Friends of Pets. So, from their newsletter, I knew most dogs in my area get adopted from animal control but hundreds of cats are euthanized annually. Kittens have the best chance of adoption. Older cats, not so much. I had no idea how old the cat I found was but it was no kitten.
After I got her in the kennel, I couldn’t bring myself to take her to animal control. I felt like I would be signing her death certificate.
Instead, I took her to the vet.
It was there I found out she was female, that she was about two years old and that, someone cared enough at some point, because she was also spayed. But with no microchip, there was no way to know who, if anyone, she belonged to.
In other words, I was now a cat mama.
The vet gave her vaccines, tested her for feline leukemia and gave me several pamphlets on being the owner of a cat. Since she got a clean bill of health from the vet, the cat was finally allowed into my house. She went into my bedroom, jumped on the bed, crawled on a pillow and slept for four days.
Living in the weeds had tuckered her out. Life on a cushy pillow is so much better than life in the weeds.
Dumbest Name Ever
I’ve always loved the name Blizzard for a dog. I always thought someday I’d have a dog named Blizzard. So when coming up with a name for the cat, I wanted something that would go with Blizzard.
The name I liked best was Beach. Something about the juxtaposition and the alliteration of Beach and Blizzard appealed to me.
You can probably guess, the problem is that Beach sounds like a bad word. One, in fact, that I particularly loath. As much as I loved Beach, I couldn’t bring myself to give her that name.
At the time, I was trying out Tai Chi and my sister suggested naming her Chi. I liked it. So she finally had a name.
The problem? The name just never took. My fault, to be sure. I would say “kitty, kitty” when I called to her and somehow that turned into her name being Kitty. So now whenever anyone meets her and they ask her name, I have to start with, “she has the dumbest cat name ever.”
I’m actually embarrassed every time someone asks her name. But what can you do? She answers to it and, as dumb and unoriginal as it is, it fits.
On the Road
Kitty, like her mama, doesn’t easily adjust to change. When we moved from the small condo to the new house, she was so scared she went under my bed and didn’t come out for six months. No kidding, six months. It was terrible.
My biggest fear was that she wouldn’t be able to adjust to life on the road, that the constant change would be too much for her little spirit. That she would be miserable.
I had hopes she would do okay in the trailer, but the three weeks of traveling in the van were a concern. To drive through Canada requires a pet health certificate. When I took her to the vet, I requested drugs. My plan was to keep her drugged to lessen her anxiety. The vet said cats have a variety of reactions to drugs and with Kitty being older, she strongly recommended against it.
Okay. As if getting onto the road wasn’t stressful enough, a big unknown with the cat was added to the mix. I put Kitty in the newly-purchased kennel the vet recommended sprayed with a calm-down scent and made sure her belly was full of catnip. The non-drug version of preparing her for travel.
Within the first hour on the road, she threw up three times, urinated and defecated on the newly-purchased kennel pillow. My worst fear realized. Not to mention she stunk up the van. And she was crying and crying.
She was miserable.
When we stopped for gas and I cleaned the mess. I decided to see if leaving her out of the kennel would have a different result. I put her up on my lap wrapped in a blanket. She settled down. After a while, long after holding her had put my arm to sleep, she asked to be let down. From then on she was fine.
She never went back to the kennel.
I feel so happy and lucky that she took to the road as well as she did. I truly had no idea what I was going to do if she didn’t. There was no Plan B.
Kitty is near 15 now. Her age has started to show. She takes stairs one at a time. Sometimes she asks for more food when pebbles remain in her bowl, leading me to believe her eye sight is starting to fail. She needs help onto the bed. I’m not sure if she learned this from the dog, but she gets on her hind legs with her front paws on the bed. Then waits for me to notice and give her a boost.
Kitty is a shy, quiet cat (except when her food bowl needs pebbles). She isn’t snugly and generally doesn’t like to be held. But she always likes being near. When I sat on the couch, she wanted to be on the back cushion. In my king-size bed, I slept on one pillow and she slept on the pillow next to me. In the trailer, even though she has a dedicated bed, I often wake up and find her on top of me or curled in a ball at my feet.
She is a homebody. In my sticks-and-bricks, on nice days we would sit in the yard and she would usually stay on the stoop with quick access to the open front door. In the trailer, she likes when I have only the screen door closed. She sits at the screen and sniffs the world. And once in a while she asks to go outside. For that, I hold her in my arms and walk her outside, though never more than a few steps from the trailer’s door (or she gets nervous). She sniffs and looks at everything, then wants to go back in.
Sometimes, like all pets, she is naughty. At those times, I threaten to send her back to the weeds. But the look she gives me. I’m not sure she takes me seriously.