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On the road with a cat..


Caruso's Amazing Adventure

by Jackie Selby Brooks

Meet Caruso, the traveling cat!

            In every book or magazine I have read, cats are generally considered to be poor travellers. The usual recommendations, if you are taking a cat with you on a journey, are tranquilliser pills and keeping the animal in a box or carrier on the floor of the vehicle so that he won’t get carsick.
Try telling our cat that! The car is a second home to Caruso. He enjoys riding in it and looking out of the windows, pulling faces at passing motorists.

Caruso was only three days old when his mother died. We hand-reared him and his littermates, and they finally found other homes. Caruso went crazy! He suddenly realised he had his “parents” all to himself and he raced around the apartment like a mad thing, jumping and leaping wide-eyed until, exhausted, he stopped dead in the middle of the room with his tongue hanging out and panting, trying to catch his breath. We were living in California at the time and had decided to return to Britain so we made arrangements for Caruso to go into quarantine in October.  At the beginning of September we set off to drive across the States to the East Coast where we and Caruso would pick up our flights to England.

loves to play
Caruso amusing himself in the car

Caruso – so named for his singing ability – had a flight carrier on the back seat of the Cadillac, plus all his favourite toys. On the floor between front and back seats were his dishes for water and food and between my feet on the passenger side, his litter tray. On the double armrest between passenger and driver we placed a cushion for him to sit on and over the back of the front seat, between the headrests, we placed a piece of carpet from a sample book. It matched the upholstery in colour and protected the leather from his needle-sharp claws.

Caruso was just three months old and he took to this new adventure like a seasoned traveller. He seemed to realise right from the start that the one restricted area was between the driver’s feet and he stayed out of it. He played with his toys and sometimes slept in the carrier. The rest of the time he would sit or sleep on the cushion beside us, or sit on the piece of carpet and look out of the windows.

The Cadillac has a wide back window ledge and he liked to sit or lie in it watching the cars behind us. The only time we were worried was when he would roll on his back and play with his tail or feet, or try to catch a reflection in the glass, as invariably, we would find other cars creeping up on our bumper so as to get a better look at the “cute kitty.”

Hi mom!
Tree climbing in Kentucky

Amazingly, we never had any problems with Caruso at motels. We always declared Caruso, often walking into the lobby with him in our arms. He captivated everybody with his beautiful copper-coloured eyes and friendly, trusting manner. He was never destructive and always used his litter box. We were usually on the road by 9 am and checked into another motel by 6 pm so he had his main meals in the comfort of a nice room. Playtime was a regular thing morning and evening, playing with us, his toys and chasing paper balls, his favourite game.

On the road we would stop at rest areas, put on his lead and harness and let him run around.  Eventually we had to attach a long length of rope to his lead because he loved to suddenly take off with one of us flying along behind and if there was a nice tall tree available he would run straight up it, then turn his head to look at us with his tongue hanging out and eyes like saucers as if to say, “I bet you can’t do this.”

We did a lot of sightseeing, so we had to consider Caruso’s comfort first, as the weather was still very hot in some areas. One place we visited was the Hoover Dam, which divides Nevada from Arizona and is on the Colorado River. There was only one covered car park, on the Arizona side, that was designated for cars with pet passengers. Unfortunately, inconsiderate people ignored the “cars with pets only” sign and our car was one of only two containing pets, yet the park was full. We left windows open and made sure he had plenty of water, as heat builds up very quickly in a stationary vehicle and that is dangerous for the occupants, whether it is pet or human.

When we decided to take a flight into the Grand Canyon that would take about one hour, we arranged with the airline receptionist to leave Caruso with her, in his carrier, in her nice cool office. It was far too hot outside to leave him in the car, even in the shade.

Make mine a coke, please.
Caruso on a Mississippi Riverboat
          When we reached Memphis, Tennessee, we wanted to take a trip down the Mississippi on a riverboat, but again it was such a hot day it would have been out of the question to leave our little friend in the car. We asked if it would be possible to take him on board and to our delight the answer was yes. As usual Caruso took it all in his furry stride, strolled the deck, made new friends and sat on a table admiring the scenery.

On reaching Charleston, West Virginia, we took Caruso to a vet for the necessary injections required by quarantine regulations. He also had a general check-up and was pronounced fit and healthy. We sent his papers to our chosen cattery in England (my daughter had previously inspected the catteries near her home and given us a report.)

Caruso loves bluebells

             Eventually we arrived in Washington DC where we stayed for six days and Caruso flew to Heathrow in the middle of October. The days following his departure seemed empty without our little travelling companion. Caruso’s sparkling personality was sorely missed.
We visited him in quarantine whenever possible and he greeted us by nibbling on our ear lobes! Now his quarantine is over and we’re delighted to have our little king of the road home with us again.
Love at first meow
Jackie and Caruso
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