Thursday, July 15, 2010

Have car, will travel

Have we become an over-cautious society? You may not agree with me, but I'm beginning to think that we have. Let me give you an example: the simple case of cats in cars.

Throughout my life, the cat of the moment has been free to move about in the car as it wished. First Sue . . . then Sophie . . . then Rupert . . . all trained as kittens not to interfere with the driver's feet, nor to settle on the driver's lap. All were sensible, intelligent cats who subsequently travelled, happily and safely, for thousands of miles.

With the arrival of Chloe I was shocked to learn that the law had changed. No longer would she be allowed to sit freely on the passenger seat beside me. Either she travelled in a cat-carrier, was tethered, or endured solitary confinement in the back.

With great reluctance, I started with the tether. Seated in her travelling bed, Chloe was tethered to both sides of the passenger seat. For five minutes it proved a novelty . . . at the six-minute point she had wriggled with sufficient vigour to have completely snapped one of the restraining leads. For the remainder of the short, hair-raising journey I drove one-handed, clutching Chloe with my left-hand, terrified that she'd strangle herself with the remaining tether!
From that moment, tethering was abandoned!

The next alternative was to give her freedom in the back. Very carefully, I created a partition which effectively cutoff the back of the car from the front. The only problem was the need to keep a small space between the two front seats, thus enabling me to use my driving mirror. But Chloe, I was sure, would never notice that.
Within less time than it took to start the engine a triumphant small cat had joined me in the front of the car!

So . . . finally . . . it had to be captivity.
Cat-carriers are small and restrictive, they allow the travelling cat very little view of the passing scenery. I settled for a small cage and secured it to the passenger seat by the seat-belt. Chloe was then squeezed inside. Her initial reaction, as you can see, was hardly approving . . . but, when we reached our destination . . . well, she had reason to change her mind.

First of all there was the unexpected excitement of a totally new animal species . . .
large ponies to be viewed very cautiously from a distance . . .

. . . then came another exciting novelty, a wood to explore . . . a wood with inviting paths . . . mysterious smells . . . and a plethora of small flying insects . . .

. . . at the far end of the wood there was yet another surprise. A wooden gate beyond which a wildflower meadow beckoned enticingly. It was a meadow that most definitely needed a very thorough investigation . . .

. . . and, best of all, there were the trees, hundreds of trees.
A gleam entered Chloe's eye . . . this, she recognised gleefully, was what Bengal Cats were born to do . . . to shin up tall trees just as fast and as high as a helpful, extendable lead will allow!

It's possible that Sue, Sophie and Rupert will be viewing Chloe's restrictive cage with sympathy.

But, if it takes a cage to get to Heaven . . . well, Chloe isn't complaining!