Because we somehow felt compelled to push our family a little further outside the realm of “normal,” we decided to add a kitten to our then family of nine plus our old faithful dog. In the eight months between saying, Merry Christmas! We’re getting you a kitten” and actually finding that kitten, we learned we were adding a baby to the mix as well.
For eight months we (as in everyone except Steve) hunted high and low for the perfect travel kitty. We wanted a kitten because, let’s face it, these kids weren’t going to be blessed with an enormous number of house pets, and they wanted to experience the kitten stage. Also, we wanted someone who would grow up in the trailer and not be traumatized by the change from a foundation…and possibly take that out on us by, ahem, missing the toilet facilities, if you catch my drift.
To make a long hunt short, after practically living on Petfinder, visiting humane societies across the country, listening to compelling tales of why we should adopt several wrong-for-us pets, and snuggling more than our fair share of cats, we ended up adopting a kitten sight unseen at the shelter in Grandma’s back yard. A sweet humane society volunteer asked how our hunt was going. When we told her the very precise demands of what we were looking for, she said, “I have the perfect kitten for you, but you can’t see her. You’ll just have to trust me.” She filled out the paperwork, and had us sign it.
It was a rather unusual end to an eight-month search. When we came in to visit the cat we had adopted, it turns out the volunteer was right–she was perfect, right down to letting us hold her on her back, which was high on our priority list. She was even the color our artistic daughter wanted.
When we came in to pick her up, coincidentally on our baby’s due date, the person who gave her to us said, “We noticed this morning that she gets a little…excited.”
Let’s analyze that word excited. I can get excited about, say, seeing a new movie, and it plays out like this:
Sitting calmly in a chair, I say, “I’m excited about seeing this new movie.”
The kids can get excited about, say, going to visit their cousins, and it plays out like this:
There’s a little dancing, laughing, chatting louder than usual, and then sitting nicely to eat dinner.
Hold that thought.
When we brought our little kitten home, she scurried straight under the table and hid there, refusing to come out. I told the kids that it would take her a couple weeks to get comfortable enough to come out on her own, and to be patient. But then, only two hours later, the cat got “excited.”
When we first experienced the cat getting “excited,” we determined the more appropriate word is “psychotic.” The ceiling wasn’t even off-limits as she hurled herself across every space in the trailer, sliding, leaping, twisting…claws out. There is no trigger, no rationale, there is only insanity resulting in the natural human instinct to protect oneself and one’s young. So we tucked up our toes, wrapped bodies around young people, and waited for the excitement to end.
Don’t dare touch psycho kitty–it will only end in tears.
Apart from her nightly bouts of insanity, which we have since learned is relatively sane in the cat world, our new addition was and is a furry delight. She is not too needy, not too distant, not too loud, not too terribly curious. She is an ideal travel kitty.
Tuppy has been to 21 states thus far. She has hit the beach on the Pacific coast, explored the deserts of the Southwest, met farm kitties in the Midwest, made friends with dogs everywhere, and grown to be quite a member of the family.
Her name? Tuppence A. Bag from the song “Feed the Birds” in the movie Mary Poppins (affiliate link). It seemed an appropriate name for a member of The Travel Bags.
Tuppence is a trailer kitty, in that she lives in the trailer and is not allowed to roam freely outside. She travels in a cat carrier buckled into a seat in the van when we move. Tuppie has a veterinarian near Grandma’s house in Wisconsin where she regularly gets her shots and is cautioned to watch her girlish figure.
For exercise, Tuppence has her regular bouts of psychosis–bandaids are cheaper than a cat-gym membership. She also has toys and children. Lastly, she has a leash and the great big world. We discovered, however, that our dreams of walking the cat and dog together were not going to happen–people walk dogs, cats walk people. When Tupp heads outside on her leash, she isn’t thinking about exercise. She explores very slowly and very cautiously, and then sprints under the trailer if she can squeeze out of her harness.
We did have one incident with Tuppence while we had her outside. The week before Jedi died, he chased his kitty friend up a tree. It was the only time he chased her–he had to get it in before he left us. We didn’t blame him–after all, he had to put up with psycho kitty, too, and she had claimed him as her own personal scratching post and play buddy.
If you care to meet Tuppence, just ask when we’re at an event near you. Chances are fifty-fifty whether or not she’ll scratch your eye out if you try to pet her, because, well, she’s a cat.