MILES TO GO: HAVE CAT, WILL TRAVEL

MILES TO GO: HAVE CAT, WILL TRAVEL

I did a double take while driving down Packer Street the other night. A woman in workout attire was walking briskly with a leash in her hand. My gaze, of course, followed the leash to see what kind of dog was enjoying its evening walk.

To my surprise, there wasn’t a dog at all, but a cat. A long, lean cat happily trotting along, minding its own business on a comfy-looking harness.

In fact, it was the exact same harness we’d gotten for our cat, Peanut, who’d had quite a different response when we strapped her into it, Peanut was a no-go for the harness we’d gotten in the event of hurricane evacuations or other events that would require her to be leashed and under our control. Not so much. Peanut wasn’t having it.

She won’t move in the harness. She’ll slink along for a few low steps and then just stop. We tried over and over again to get her used to the thing to no avail.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the end of Peanut’s outdoor travel adventures. It turns out, she’s a great traveler. Airplanes and car rides are actually her jam. One recent vacation to the Jersey Shore found her, literally, in planes, trains and automobiles with nary a complaint.

This traveling cat didn’t start out so smoothly, though.

It all started with a travel bag, a cat carrier that would fit under an airplane seat, which wasn’t too big a challenge. She’s a small cat.

The first bag — first of three — apparently bore an objectionable smell.

She’d approach it with uncharacteristic caution, despite typically claiming immediate residency of any bag, box, basket, laundry hamper, suitcase or open drawer. But now, she’d get within 10 inches of this intriguing new container, take a hesitant whiff, then jerk her head away, as if from a punch. (It was the same instinctive retreat Stan does when recklessly investigating the contents of a forgotten Tupperware in the back of the fridge.)

Several online reviews confirmed that Peanut wasn’t the only feline repulsed by that bag’s new-carrier smell.

It went back.

Bag No. 2 seemed promising — at first. Peanut approached it with only minor hesitation. She walked its perimeter, rubbing her cheeks on all its ridges — a sign of tentative approval.

Then she stepped inside.

Suddenly, our formerly homeless, shelter cat from the Florida Keys SPCA had turned into a Real Housewife who’s subjected to a Motel 6.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Unacceptable.

Peanut let us know that she had requested a luxury corner room, with a view — and a skylight. And a retractable roof. This simply would not do. Back it went.

And then came the third and final travel bag, the one that became her favorite spot, even when it was just on the living room floor. Now, every time Stan and I start packing our suitcase, she first hops into that atop our clothes, but then seeks out her bag and hops in, ready for takeoff.

She’s been on several flights now, in several pet-friendly hotels (though no Motel 6 just yet) and spent an 8-hour car ride to Orlando in Stan’s lap while he was driving or dozing comfortably in the backseat.

Peanut may never be the walking-type of cat on a harness, but she’s now not only a domestic shorthair, but a discerning domestic traveler. And we’ll take it.

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