Saturday, July 9, 2016

Caught between a litter box and a leash



We’ve been mired in a quandary here for weeks, asking ourselves – should we pull our feet out of our big metaphorical boots into the sloppy world of risk and commitment?
 

          We’re petless and have been since our last, and possibly most fabulous cat, Satchel, finally went to that great lap in the sky. It’s been almost two years now and we’re feeling the void. We’ve paced off possible boundaries of the back yard for a fence, researched local boarding kennels, and buttonholed our dog-owning friends. We’ve Googled personalities for cocker spaniels, Maltese, Scottish terriers, schnauzers, and every possible blend of poodles. 


          Some of these poodle blends are ridiculously adorable


                                                                             Saint Bernoodle


 









Cavapoo (King Charles spaniel & poodle)

 









while some, I suspect, were combined just for the wackiness of the name:



Foodle (Fox terrier & poodle)


 









Flandoodle (Bouvier des Flandres & guess what)


In some cases, it’s difficult to see any other reason for the cross-breed since many of these breeds are just fine in their own right. 


          This world of dog ownership we’re circling with such wariness is a long-forgotten place for both of us. We each grew up with dogs (and in my case, simultaneous cats) and loved them dearly, but through our married life we’ve veered off to cats. 
          Let’s face it, cats are easier. Way easier. You put out the litter box and that’s the extent of the training. No barking, no whining to go outside. (Although over our cat years here we received The Look and a fair amount of mewing until we opened the door leading to chipmunks, moles, and snakes.) And, as I’ve written before, our cats were often more like dogs in a cat suit. They came when we called, they followed us and helped with all projects, and snuggled as well as any canine. Had we become cat people?


          So why are we considering a dog? We need something portable now that we’ll be driving to and from Florida. 


          After so much time on-line with virtual dogs, I decided we needed to interact with the real thing. I packed up the husband and we drove to a shelter advertising Theo, a possible candidate. 


          Once we entered, I saw nothing but eyes- sad, sad eyes peering out from cages.  The usual urge to take everybody there home swept over me. We entered the section for dogs. Like any city shelter, the pit bulls outnumbered everybody, followed by a fair number of Chihuahuas. There was barking and thumping and the sound of nails on concrete. 


          Theo, one of the more enthusiastic barkers, looked up from his cage through a tangle of bangs. He was cute and little (did we want something that little?) but no heartstrings pinged. We took another turn through the room and exited. 

      Then somehow we were both drawn to the cat section. Big tabbies, and cameos, and greys, and midnight black guys sat on shelves like pouffy soufflés. I knew what it would feel like to pick them up and stroke that soft fur. I knew how it felt to have one weave against my leg or bump its forehead against mine.

          If only I knew how to travel for two days to Florida with a cat in the car.

          Suggestions are welcome!


         

         






26 comments:

  1. You wrote this post just for me. We're having exactly the same dilemma at our house. The 'oodle' dogs are so wonderful. I'm so tempted. Realistically, if we get another pet it will have to be a cat. I feel sure I could travel with a cat, even to Florida. First I would train the cat to be leash friendly if for no other reason than when traveling. Second I would purchase as large a cage as possible for my car situation so the cat would have plenty of room to stand up, stretch, and move around. Search online for tips about traveling with a cat.

    When our kids were babies/toddlers, and before the days of seatbelts, we had a standard four door car. Bob took a piece of plywood and cut it the size to make a floor out of that back seat area. We packed things under it to keep it level. Instant playpen. It worked great. The kids could move around, sleep, play or whatever. For a cat I would add a large crate and anchor it good. The cat would not be far from you.

    You might also look at some blogs written by people who travel a lot in RVs. A lot have dogs but a lot also have cats.

    Good luck, I look forward to seeing what you decide.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You look forward? I was kind of hoping you'd make the leap first and report back!

      Delete
  2. I have a schnauzer but until him I spent my entire, very long adult life with poodles in tow. I wouldn't recommend a schnauzer anyone where barking is a problem. By nature they want to chase and bark at anything that moves. It took mine almost a year for him to realize he couldn't catch a bird. We used to travel a lot with our poodles and never had trouble doing it. Maltese and some of the other long-haired dogs are too labor intense for me. Levi, my dog, costs $50 every six weeks to clip and that could be a consideration for some people with dogs that don't shed. Whatever you pick, there is a good match out there for you and it will be exciting to follow along in your blog.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't know how it happened, but I've had/known three car happy cats in my life. The first traveled in a in a 52 Dodge wagon, with most windows down all the time. That must have been a leap of faith for my parents to even consider taking a cat. The cat was always on a leash, which he dragged around. We seldom tethered him. My parents had another travelling cat when they were empty nesters. I recall he dragged a leash around the campsites, too. My fifteen month old daughter walked up behind him, poked him in the back end and announced "hole." He jumped quite high, and thereafter made sure she was in front of him. The last years they traveled, my parents had an orange tabby that affixed herself to my father at a campground, and climbed into the car as they were leaving. She did not leave my father's side the last ten years of his life; she was a guest in my home whenever they visited.

    I have no advice, just the knowledge it happens. Perhaps you must start with a kitten. All the cats I've mentioned toileted outdoors, by the way, whenever the family made a rest stop.

    I'll love to know what you do. I'd go for a cat, though my current fellow would be hard to convert from a slug to a travelling slug.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very encouraging words, Joanne, and helpful.
      I woul have loved to meet those cats, they sound like characters.

      Delete
  4. I did travel from Florida with a cat and it was no problem. You have to kennel them in the car for your own sanity. I got a kennel big enough to hold a sand box also. Mine slept most of the way as cats tend to do. If the cat is vocal and crazed when driving, your vet can prescribe a cat tranquilizer to make the trip better for all concerned. I am more of a dog person but cats are really low maintenance.

    ReplyDelete
  5. our cat, a gray long hair tabby and a rescue traveled back and forth with us from the city house to the country house every week. she took to the car like she was born in it, never freaking out, never crying. she would lay on the wide armrest between seats with her open carrier behind her for her to go in if she got spooked which she would be when big semis would pass us. she would be happy in there until she was ready to come out. she always knew when we were getting close by the sound of the car and the scenery. we just lucked out I guess to have a cat that didn't mind riding in the car.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ellen and Patti! Who knew there were so many ridin' cats out there? And good advice, Patti - this sounds almost do-able.

      Delete
  6. My cat is a good traveler. She had never been in a car before when I took her from Minnesota to her new home in South Carolina and the vet gave me a pheromone spray to use in her carrier to calm her, along with tranquilizer which I never had to use. She slept most of the two day trip.
    I've had two cats before this that traveled since they were kittens. Their carrier was available to them but they didn't mind the car at all and chose their own spots to ride. I think you have to start them young.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Echoing everyone else. Some cats travel well. Our current cats don't. On the occasions they have to travel they cry and behave in fashion which necessitates opening windows for fresh air. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is the experience I'm familiar with. We tried to take Calvin and Coolidge to our lake house when we had one and the ride of only 45 minutes was unbearable for everyone involved.

      Delete
  8. We had a cat named Louis when we lived in Colorado and we use to load him into the car and drive to see family in Utah. When we got orders to Germany we drove him from Colorado to S. Carolina where he went on a plane to Germany. Three years later we flew him back to Georgia . Four years later it was time to fly him Izmir, Turkey for a couple of years .and then back. Then he and another cat drove with us to California. We had also taken him on vacation from Georgia to Florida in the car. So it depends on the animal. Louis loved the car and would jump in like a dog to take a ride. Our current cat doesn't like the car, but puts up with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Louis sounds absolutely amazing. What a trouper!

      Delete
  9. When I moved to New York from Florida I drove both my cats in the car with me. I wouldn't say they loved it, but we managed!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Mild sedation and in a carrier, securely fastened. Attach a leash once sedated and before putting into carrier, then you can control him more easily for toilet breaks. I hope. You may have a good traveller.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So helpful, River. It's details like how to manage the leash that may prove to make this manageable.

      Delete
  11. No suggestions because I have no pets. I may get a dog again some day when the tick population is not such a threat. At least you know this is a big deal and not just getting a toy!

    ReplyDelete
  12. A harness might be a better option, buy one at a good quality pet store and fit it on the cat once sedated. It's far less likely to "choke" the cat as a leash attached to a collar might if the cat tries to pull away.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love all those cute pictures! My husband and I had a small poodle named Teddy who lived twelve years, and then we had Pooh who lived fifteen years. Poodles are just great and way at the top of the list for intelligence. We still talk about getting another Poodle, but big Eli has taken up most of our room here. I would suggest a Poodle and a big kitty cat. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So the we wouldn't have to make any decisions! Just get one of each!

      Delete
  14. Kittens can be taught to like car rides...a bit of fish helps:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So not only do I have a disgruntled cat, I also get to ride with a halibut in the back seat?

      Delete
    2. Haha, you are too funny!

      Delete
    3. Maybe grouper would be better since after all you are going to FL

      Delete
  15. Marty, we made the trek from NJ to CO every year with (at one time) 2 cats and 3 dogs. The cats used to ride in their carriers which were just big enough for them to lay down and turn around with cat beds inside them. They were never happy. This year we put eBay in a wire dog crate that was large enough for her cat cozy and a "travel" litter box (available at the grocery with litter already in it). We covered the crate up with a big towel so it made it like a den for her. She only used the litter box once in the 3 days of travel, but it was there when she needed it. I transfer from the wire crate into her carrier to take her into the hotel. We travel with another litter box that is broken down (lid inside the bottom) packed with food, litter scoop, sheets for the beds--dog proofing--bowls, etc. that we then take into the room with us. Don't ever tell them you have a cat. Just ask for a pet room and let them assume you have a small dog! ;) Ebay got to the point of resignation and got into her carrier crate the minute we got up in the morning so she was ready to go. Be aware that cats will hide under beds, behind hotel furniture and etc!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. New Jersey to Colorado? Lynne, your fortitude and optimism is astounding.

      Delete

Thanks for stopping by and I'd love to hear what you think.