Travelling with a cat in a motorhome - one couple’s adventure.
More wuss than puss.
It was just never going to happen. There was no way The Toof was going to let us go swanning off round the country in our motorhome (RV for our American friends) without him.
Every time the door of Herman the Hymer was opened he was in like a rocket and clung to the seats like the hooky side of Velcro if we tried to eject him.
It must be pointed out here that our cat, The Toof, (name? just … don’t ask) is a sociable chap and has to be close to us at all times, even, embarrassingly, when we are only going to the toilet. We put it down to the insecurity of a tough kittenhood as a stray.
He may not speak our language but he has ways of making himself understood and it soon became obvious to us that we had to work out how to take him with us when we went travelling.
Kitty carriers are not for all cats.
Well, it wasn't going to be in the kitty carrier that was for sure. Not only had he decided he was not staying behind but it was definitely very much beneath his dignity to go as freight.
We tried it only once but he decided he was going to dig his way out even if the carrier was made of rigid plastic. Eventually the frantic scratching wore us down, he could just keep scratching longer than we could put up with the racket.
So we had to move on to Plan B … after we had worked out what Plan B was.
Plan B - the human solution.
The Toof decided that Plan B was for him to sit on my knee and be cuddled whilst he looked out of the windscreen as we bowled merrily along. I disagreed.
Not only would I soon end up as furry as him but I was pretty sure the police take a dim view of this had they caught sight of him sitting perkily on my lap as we charged past them at sixty miles an hour. And we were pretty sure we would also be reprimanded by motorhoming organisations and vets for having a 'loose' animal on board.
Not that The Toof has ever considered himself anything as menial as an ‘animal’ or even ‘loose’.
So we compromised by fitting him with a bright red velour harness which we felt made him look a bit like Gordon Gecko in his red braces. This meant we could then tether him with a short lead wherever we liked. Or perhaps I should say wherever ‘he’ liked.
Although he accepted wearing the harness very well we fell out over where he should be tethered.
We decided it would be safer for him to be settled in his bed down on the floor by my side. As he is a complete mummy’s boy this made sense … to us.
A few times of him trying to climb up onto my lap, all crampons extended whilst being strangled by his harness, soon persuaded me that he objected to being relegated to the floor. The floor was definitely beneath him, in a metaphorical as well as a literal sense.
Plan C - the feline solution.
It was rapidly becoming apparent that he felt he needed to see where he was going so we attached him on a short tether to the wide, carpeted shelf above the dashboard which is a luxurious speciality of Hymer motorhomes.
This idea he found much more to his liking even thought I think the insanely over-zealous British Health and Safety regulations might have frowned on our solution.
But The Toof snaps his ... fingers?... at such strictures.
However, when we put his bed up there to sort of contain him a little more, we felt we had reached a reasonably safe compromise between his comfort, his safety and his bloody-mindedness.
And I must say it does seem to work rather well. We untether him when we leave the vehicle so that he can get to his food and litter tray, which is appropriately situated in the motorhome bathroom, a roof vent is opened for ventilation and we're off to explore while he … er ... sleeps.
What else? He is a cat after all.
Playing to the gallery.
This is a compromise that works rather well as The Toof is not particularly interested in the historic places or traditional tearooms full of tantalising cakes that fascinate us so much.
He much prefers to proceed with washing his voluminous furry Y-fronts or snatch a few zzz's on the front window-ledge of the Hymer whilst we are out.
However such performances do tend to attract a lot of attention and we often return to the 'van to find an admiring crowd peering through the windscreen and lifting their kids up to see the 'lovely pussycat'.
The 'lovely pussycat' is usually taking it all in his stride and graciously accepting the hero worship and blandishments as his due although he doesn't actually deign to acknowledge all the calls and window-tapping.
He is simply too comfortable and perfectly happy waiting to move on.
Whose bed is this anyway?
For the most part we all manage to rub along quite well in such a confined space and The Toof has somehow realised it is simply common decency to scratch more gently at night in his litter tray and not to try and excavate through the bottom of the van.
In fact the only time there is a tiny bit of tension is when it’s cold outside at night.
As we cannot wait to get out on the open road in Spring and are reluctant to stop travelling in the autumn we are often out in the ‘van' in chilly weather and, snug in our duvets, my husband and I are cosy enough.
The Toof however can get cold as he will not stay in his bed under the thermal cover I got for him. This is when we have some ‘unpleasantness’, or at least we used to until he got me trained.
Now, when he is cold (and I know when this is by feeling the temperature of his ears) he snuggles close to me making placatory little chirrups in his throat, until I invite him under the covers.
This works moderately well and sometimes I may even get some sleep until he either gets too hot or gets an attack of the midnight munchies and goes to see if there is anything left in his food dish. This usually wakes me as he has to ‘scale' me to get there and he’s a clumsy, heavy bedfellow.
But fortunately we don't have to get up early and I can always catch up on my sleep when we get home. Losing sleep seems such a small price to pay for the fun we have with an unusual cat who loves us so much he just wants to be with us all the time - even when we are travelling.
For more ‘Tales of The Toof’ click here ...