The Seafaring Cat

“Every exit is an entry somewhere else.” ~ Tom Stoppard

medium_2548274331
I’m settled on the window ledge of our car, at the back of a ferryboat, watching Vancouver recede into the distance. We are headed toward Victoria, a place I’d never heard of before today. I am here against my will and am already sure that this type of rollicking adventure is not my cup of tea. As I contemplate the water foaming behind us in the ferry’s wake, I fret a wee bit. What kind of place is Victoria? I know that Miranda’s sister Cassie lives there and that I’ll be living with her for a long time while my providers desert me in order to flit off to Africa. And that is the sum total of the information I have at present. My future is shrouded in a “cloud of unknowing”. (Did I mention that I’m a well-read cat?)

The ferry vibrates a bit, but moves smoothly through the waves. I hear birds calling out to one another and must admit that the sun glinting on the water is picturesque. The steady hum of the boat’s engines lulls me until my eyelids droop. Yes, time for a nap.

“Squawk! Squawk!”

Startled, I leap to my feet and bump my head on the roof. Be still, my racing heart! I notice that a large, white bird has landed on the car trunk. He glares at me through the window. “Squawk!”

small_2393984030Narrowing my eyes, I growl a warning. “This is my territory. Leave or suffer the consequences.” In the heat of the moment, it fails to occur to me that the thick pane of glass between us will make it a bit difficult to carry out that threat. The wretched creature dismisses me with a toss of its head and bends to grasp something with its beak. It looks like a piece of bread. He flaps his wings and takes off, soaring up into the sky.

Wide-awake now, I prowl around the car, checking for an escape route. I’d quite like to chase a bird or two, now that my appetite has been aroused. The only portal to the outside world is one slightly-ajar side window. No hope of compressing my body through that. I do manage to wedge my nose into the crack and soon pick up some intriguing aromas…the pleasant tang of an ocean breeze, the less attractive residue of car exhaust and a faint but compelling hint of food being cooked.

I notice a small human running toward me between the cars. She seems to catch sight of me because she speeds up, yelling, “A kitty! I see a kitty in that car!”

Discretion leads me to withdraw my nose from the crack and retreat to the floor. Two wiggling fingers poke through the window space and an unfamiliar odour tickles my nostrils. The girl withdraws her hand and replaces it with a fat, brown finger of an altogether different sort. I detect the presence of protein, my favourite food group. Throwing caution to the wind, I leap up and approach the delectable tidbit. How odd! Despite its unnatural tubular shape, it looks and smells like meat and there is a spiciness to it that gives me pause.

A deep voice interrupts my musings. “Sandra! Come back here right now!” The girl turns to look at a male human who strides toward us, hand outstretched. “Daddy, look – a kitty. Can I give him my wiener?”

So that’s what the mystery meat is called. The man does not seem to be as enthralled with me as is Sandra and barely glances in my direction. He grasps her hand and starts to pull her away. “Let’s go. I got your colouring book from the car.”

“But Daddy…” They head off, but not before one little hand reaches back and drops the wiener through the window. “Bye, Kitty!”

small_124296573

Well, thank you Sandra. I’m on the floor pronto, nibbling cautiously at the meat. Mmmm… I continue to eat with gusto and, having dispatched the snack with rather more haste than wisdom, retire to the window ledge to clean myself and indulge in another nap.

In due course, my providers return to the car and Miranda opens the door nearest to me. “Cato, have you enjoyed your first ferry trip?” She strokes my head. “It looks like you’ve slept through the whole journey, which is probably for the best.”

That’s what you think. Which is probably for the best.

As I stretch luxuriously, I experience a slight queasy feeling. Miranda picks me up and tries to insert me into the cat carrier but, without warning, my stomach does a little flip flop and I start to gag. Miranda panics, as usual. “Yikes!” She tosses me to the floor and backs away from the car. Gag…gag... At the last possible second, I lean my head over and, with one final heave of my poor innards, expel all traces of my snack. Fortunately for us – though perhaps not the ferry workers – it lands on the ferry deck.

Feeling somewhat mortified, I slink back to my cat carrier and lie down inside. Jacob reaches over and closes the door. “Wow! Cato, I don’t know what you’ve been eating, but thanks for NOT sharing it with us.”

You’re welcome. Groan.

With a slight bump or two, the boat makes landfall and we crawl behind a long line of cars up a ramp and out into the fresh air. Still feeling somewhat unsteady, I peer through the carrier door. Outside the car, a single sea bird swoops to pick up something from the ground. From my lofty perch of sad experience, I want to call out the window, “Scavenger, beware!” Instead, I turn three times, nestle into my blanket and sleep.

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” ~ Homer, The Odyssey

“There is a time for many words, and there is also a time for sleep.” ~ Homer, The Odyssey

__________________________________________________________________________

Photo credits

Ferry wake: http://www.flickr.com/photos/iwona_kellie/2548274331/; Seagull: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jono2k5/2393984030/

Little girl: http://www.flickr.com/photos/phinworld/124296573/

Cat In Transit

 “The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” ~ Rudyard Kipling

 medium_7484802480

It isn’t my idea to travel. One minute I’m happily returning home from my morning constitutional around the property and the next I’m being stuffed unceremoniously into the horrid cat carrier. And on the way out the door, this exchange takes place between my providers:

Miranda: I hate doing this to Cato. I feel like a traitor or something.

 Jacob: It’s better this way. You know what happened last time.

 I imagine he’s referring to the day they planned to take me to the vet, a place where no good thing ever happens.  When I caught sight of the cat carrier sitting in the hallway that morning, I high-tailed it to the basement and hid in a dark recess under the stairs. Result: A nice long nap and one missed vet appointment.

My stomach lurches as Jacob swings my carrier out the door and belts it securely in the back seat of their automobile. Of course I complain bitterly – and for quite a long time – but to no avail. We are off on our journey to who-knows-where. Miranda tries to talk to me in soothing tones but I’m having none of it. “Take me home now! Let me out of here! Cat abuse!”

Eventually, the monotony of traffic sounds lulls me to sleep and I wake up to find that the car is no longer moving. From what I can see through the mesh door of my carrier, we are parked near a large body of water. My nose picks up a tangy, rather pleasing scent and I can hear birds squealing. Where are we?

Miranda opens her window and inhales deeply. “Don’t you love the smell of the ocean?”

Jacob agrees. “I’m glad we’ll be near the coast in Africa. I wonder if the seagulls are different there?”

small__8213118053Africa.  Suddenly all the activity and talk I’ve heard over the last couple of weeks seems to coalesce in my mind and I realize something big is happening. The suitcases ought to have been my first clue. There were three of them sitting open in the spare room for days on end. Miranda would add things to them from time to time and I quite enjoyed napping on some of the more pleasing fabrics.

And then there were the after-dinner discussions about this place called “Africa”.  Here’s an example:

Jacob, rubbing his arm: That last injection was the worst.  It still hurts a bit.

MirandaMine isn’t too bad. They say slight swelling is normal.  It’ll go away soon. She sips her tea.  It’ll all be worth it just to spend six whole weeks there this time. I like the thought of helping to build a children’s shelter.

Jacob: I’m excited about that too. It’s hard to believe we’re leaving tomorrow. My only concern is Cato. How will he cope in Victoria, in a strange house? Does your sister even know how to care for a cat?

MirandaOf course she does – we grew up with cats. Cato seems quite taken with Cassie when she visits us, so I’m sure he’ll be fine once he settles in and marks his new territory. 

The conversation continued, but you get the idea. They are going to take me to a strange land called Victoria and desert me for a very long time. How Africa figures into the picture I have yet to find out. Miranda leans over the seat to stroke my nose through the mesh, but I turn around and present her with my rear aspect.

A muffled voice floats through the window. “All passengers please return to your cars. The ferry to Schwartz Bay is about to commence boarding.”  Ferry – what’s that? The car inches forward and I resign myself to whatever fate awaits me.  A whiff of that tangy odour tickles my nose and I realize that this must be the smell of the ocean. As I lift my head to breathe in the rather pleasant aroma, a strange tingle of excitement stirs in my breast. I turn and peek through the mesh again. A large white boat – the ferry, I presume –  looms in front of us and we travel up a winding ramp toward it. A woman in a bright coloured vest waves us through a cavernous opening and we proceed into a dim and mysterious place.

And so my seafaring journey begins.

The ferry journey

A trip on the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria, B.C.

To be continued…

Next time:  The Seafaring Cat

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Photo credits: Cat in car –http://www.flickr.com/photos/pirhan/7484802480/;

Cat on suitcase –http://www.flickr.com/photos/zeevveez/8213118053/; Ferry –http://www.flickr.com/photos/ttcopley/4881723604/