The Problem with Travel: Slice of Life #sol18

The problem with travel, of course, is that cats must stay home.

I know there are cats who travel, because I’ve read the books. Peter Gethers’s The Cat Who Went to Paris, for example, which I read when it was first published in 1992, convinced me I needed a traveling cat, preferably a Scottish fold.

cat who went to paris.jpg

It takes a special kind of cat to seek adventure.  When she was a kitten, Wilhemina was just such a cat.

wilhemina 1.JPG

We drove cross country one summer. She sat on the dash and watched the scenery go by and napped under my feet. She was small enough to fit into my purse, so I smuggled her into motel rooms and then into a campus dorm room at a conference. She was eager to explore a new space and seemed to think that every place belonged to her. That was long before she grew into the cranky tyrant who now has to live with Grandma because she prefers being an only cat. (Not that she gets to be an only cat at Grandma’s either, but living with 3 other cats is far preferable to 7 or 8.)

My cats now are shy homebodies who have a strict routine that involves exerting themselves during the day only to move from one favored napping spot to another. A new object is nothing to fear as long as it can be turned into a bed.

chipotle in suitcase

I know they’re happier at home, but I miss them when I’m on the road. I miss them most at night. When I try to fall asleep, it feels like something is missing. Most nights, there are two or three stretched out or curled up on top of me and two or three more nearby. There is barely room in the bed for the humans with all the cats. Sometimes I fall asleep with Toast on my chest and wake up in the morning to find her still in the same spot. I don’t know how she can sleep for eight more hours when she’s already slept for something like twelve, but at least I know she is well rested.

Last night, as I attempted to fall asleep in a hotel room sans cat, I wondered why my white noise app doesn’t have an option for Purrs.

smudge and toast





26 responses to “The Problem with Travel: Slice of Life #sol18”

  1. margaretsmn Avatar

    I enjoy reading stories about your cats. My cat sleeps on or in my suitcase just like your picture above. I now travel with cat hair. I am currently at my parents’ home and their last cat died years ago but I feel her presence in the night. I think she’s now a ghost who hops on the bed to sleep with me. I hope you have safe travels and return home soon to your herd.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I was so amused when I came back into the bedroom after grabbing another stack of clothes and found Chipotle had settled himself right in the middle of the suitcase. He is a hard cat to get a good photo of, as his face is a bit misshapen, but I do like this one. Isn’t it amazing how the presence of a beloved pet lingers after they are gone?

  2. carwilc Avatar

    I don’t have cats, but I always miss my dog like crazy. She used to sleep right next to me on the bed most nights. Now that she is getting older, she often sleeps on a blanket beside my bed. I hate that!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I am glad she can still be nearby, even if the bed is too much for her now. We’ve had to add extra supports so that our dog can get onto the couch without falling. She hasn’t slept in the bed in years, but I don’t think she could continue living if she couldn’t nap all day on the couch!

  3. glenda funk Avatar
    glenda funk

    Ha! I did not expect this post to be about cats! When I travel, leaving home always involves some tears because I can’t take the animals.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I had to leave quickly to keep my emotions in check! And then after I left, I realized I’d forgotten to give a special goodbye to my old dog! I owe her an exuberant hello when I get home.

  4. Teachingnest87 Avatar

    It seems to be a day to post about pets:) I didn’t expect this post to be about cats either. I love to travel but I do miss my own bed and sometimes my morning coffee depending on where I am traveling. American coffee drinking is far different than European coffee drinking.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yes, I miss my own bed too and blackout curtains! I’m a very persnickety and light sleeper, and that does make travel really difficult. Of course, if I only had a cat or two with me, I’m convinced that I could ignore some of the light pollution and noise!!

  5. Ms Victor Reads Avatar

    Awww! For me, this is the first summer that I did not have to work out cat care because my last cat died this spring. I definitely missed my cats when I travelled, too! I have to figure out if my next home is going to be cat free.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’m so sorry about your cat. It is challenging to arrange care for them when we travel, but I can’t imagine a cat-free home. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself!!

  6. arjeha Avatar

    This made me smile, especially the suitcase picture since I have a cat that likes to help me pack as well. It is something how they change. Our Dustin use to be a busybody and would check out anyone who came to the house. Now he runs and hides as soon as he hears someone at the door.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I have been surprised to see how some cats’ personalities change as they get older. Wilhemina, too, used to love people and novelty and now hates both. For many years, she lived with another grouchy old cat, and it seemed like a competition to see who could be the most displeased about life. Luckily, if they ran out of reasons to be unhappy, they could always remember that they had to share space with another cat!

  7. mrspalmerponders Avatar

    I am not a cat person; however, being a dog owner, I can relate to your sentiments of feeling like something is missing when you are separated from your pet. My favorite line is:

    “That was long before she grew into the cranky tyrant who now has to live with Grandma because she prefers being an only cat.”

    The photos helped move the story along and breathe life into your words.

    I hope a purring noise is available soon!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Thank you! I had only intended to use one photo for this post but as I was writing realized it would be more engaging if it became more like a photo essay.

  8. Trina Haase Avatar
    Trina Haase

    Such a sweet post! My parents take their cat to the cabin up north. The cat loves it once she’s up there, but HATES the car ride!

    I don’t have a cat, but I have dogs. I don’t like being away from them either.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      The visit to the cabin must nearly make up for the dreaded car ride! That is one advantage to dogs: most do love their car rides!

  9. Clare Landrigan Avatar
    Clare Landrigan

    I am going to share this post with Tammy – she is your audience!!! Love this piece – so much voice in it, but I need to share it with Tammy.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      So funny, Clare! So glad to find another reader in Tammy who really REALLY gets it!

  10. elsie Avatar

    If the app had the purr, it would need to vibrate too, just like a purr. I miss my cats who used to think I was their personal bed for sleeping. Cats are special and it takes a special person to appreciate them. Obviously, you are a very special person. 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I’ve been working some with a line from Willa Cather today: “Anyone can love a mountain, but it takes a soul to love a prairie.” Your comment made me think about how anyone can love a dog, but it takes a soul to love a cat!

  11. Tammy and Clare Avatar

    I think we are twins separated at birth 🙂 My first cat used to sit on the back of my neck as I drove out to Long Island to see my boyfriend (now husband). Our current cat and two dogs travel up to Maine with us on weekends. As we drive along, I love looking in the backseat to see them cuddling together as. I know what you mean about sleeping without your animals. My favorite way to sleep is with my cat on my head, my dog on my left side and my husband on my right side. The bed feels so big when I have to sleep alone. I love that there is someone else out there in the world who can’t sleep without their animals.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I love this story, Tammy! I am so glad we connected over our mutual need to be smothered in cat at night! How sweet that your three snuggle in the backseat as you drive to Maine. I have decided that I need to train my next cat from kittenhood to appreciate or at least tolerate a car ride so that I can have at least one cat who can join us on adventures.

  12. jarhartz Avatar

    My cat always plants himself in my open packed suitcase. I’ve always viewed it as a form of protest! Or maybe he just wants to come along!

  13. readingteachsu Avatar

    Love this sweet slice. I think a purr option would be perfect.

  14. Holly Nolte Avatar

    This reminds me so much of my cat. Every year when we go on vacation, I have to hire my niece to come house-sit. Not for the house, for my kitty! The only problem is, for some reason he doesn’t like her! We believe because she tried so hard to get him to like her in the beginning, so now when she comes he hides for the whole week, but at least he’s not alone! He also sleeps every night right next to me and has to be touching me the whole night.

  15. […] slice about the problem with travel (it’s probably not what you […]

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