Friday, August 11, 2017

"Take Me Riding in the Car, Car..."

Although you still need to support this web site...'s a free cat memory, because today's e-mail contained a publicity "contest" that's just too cute to ignore. Check out the cute picture that set me off here:

That's such an iconic picture of the pet waiting to start off on an adventure with its humans, or waiting at a stopping point in the course of a's not something I like to see on the actual road, though. If that truck were moving, that dog would be in danger, just like the human children who also like to stick their heads, hands, or feet out to catch the breeze on a hot day.

"Little" Mo, Heather's brother, didn't seem especially keen on being taken to the house at the end of this ramp in a car. He seemed pleased once he got there, though. He liked the human who had built the ramp.

For cats, the safest way to transport a cat is in a locked carrier box secured to the floor. Cats who really like riding in cars would, of course, prefer to be on your lap and/or looking out the window. In a crash, those positions offer the cat no security whatsoever and could make the cat more hazardous to humans. And although your cat probably has better sense, cats have been known to jump out even through a crack at the top of a window, even before the vehicle reaches a full stop.

However, Black Magic, the Founding Queen of the Cat Sanctuary, was not only in the minority of cats who are very social, and the minority of cats who hear and respond to specific words, but also the (somewhat larger) minority of cats who just love riding in the car.

That was one of the first things her human godfather noticed when he brought her to me. She was small for a three-month-old kitten, she had mostly white skin under her nearly all black fur, she had a super-loud and almost nonstop purr, she had been brought up as a pet and seemed to like and trust him, and she perched on the back of the passenger seat in his Subaru economy car, purring like all get out, all the way from downtown Kingsport to the house that was not yet a Cat Sanctuary.

I've never been a car person myself, but Magic's human godfather was a native of Kingsport, Tennessee, where all the men and most of the women are seriously into cars. His Dad was one of the investors in the Bristol Motor Speedway. One of his best friends sold Allstate motor insurance. His brother-in-law had a car rental business. Hearing that I liked getting paid to exercise, these people got me a part-time job in a hand car wash, where I modelled NASCAR T-shirts, hung damp chamois rags over my shoulders, and raked in the tips. Magic's human godfather had owned at least one car since the age of fifteen, seldom missed a NASCAR race on television and watched a few races live each year, and collected NASCAR souvenir shirts...including the early Dale Earnhardt (Senior) shirts that presented early Earnhardt cars as "Black Magic" and "Black Velvet," which were the names he and I later gave Magic and another black cat who was living with me that year.

Cars were a big theme in his and my whole relationship. I liked the young man at the time and remember only good things about him, but when I look back our dates seem like an immersion course in Kingsport's car culture. We watched races, he taught me to drive a stick shift, we took road trips, we wore shirts with cars on them, we bought shelves of model cars (NASCAR souvenirs of course) and studied the differences between racing cars' and ordinary cars' engines; we even borrowed or rented different cars to compare the driving experience. Sometimes we'd test-drive cars just for a cheap date.

In addition to the Subaru, that year, we drove Hondas, Toyotas, Chevrolets, Nissans, a Geo, a Plymouth, an Acura, a Hyundai, a Lincoln Continental, a Pontiac Grand Prix, and the Renault Alliance I hated so intensely. Both of us generally liked the economy cars--apart from the Renault, which was old, had cost $200 to buy, and might possibly have been brought up to standard for another $2,000 or maybe $5,000. My rating system had three tiers: Nice and Economical, Nice but More Expensive than Necessary, and That Renault. His was more elaborate, with the Honda Accord in first place, points deducted from all Ford models just because someone his Dad didn't like sold Fords, and the Geo Metro down at the back beside That Renault. (I liked the Geo Metro.)

2017 Toyota Prius
This car was invented after Magic's lifetime. The Prius used to be an extremely pricey and prickly model with a lot of bugs, but now I know a perfectly normal couple who have one that's served them well for several years. Can you afford a Prius yet? Find out at

And if Magic didn't ride in every one of those cars with us (which she didn't), it wasn't her fault. Most cats don't like leaving their homes. Magic wanted to go where her humans went, even if large unfriendly cats or dogs were there--somehow other animals always seemed to respect Magic, if they didn't actually bond with her, even when she was a tiny kitten. She always remembered her human godfather and liked to perch on his shoulders too, but her favorite car was one in which I was sitting in the passenger seat, where she alternated between purring on my knees and perching on my shoulders.

We were adults, but we were very young and didn't take Magic to the right vet. It never occurred to us to buy a cat carrier box. We did use seat belts, for ourselves; we didn't think about a well-behaved cat needing one too. And, since we were luckier than we probably deserved to be, nothing ever went wrong on any of Magic's road adventures with us.

Since those long-ago days I've known several other cats who enjoyed visiting friends with me, even seemed to enjoy the actual car trip. Some other cats have even been social enough that the cats who've lived with my human friends have become their friends. Bounce and Pounce liked to bounce and pounce through other people's houses. Mogwai, Iris, and Ivy liked to visit friends.

And Dusty the shelter cat was so good a passenger that, when loaded into a car without the benefit of a secure carrier, she would lie right down on the floor, brace herself between the seats, and purr. She'd sit on my lap if I picked her up, but she knew that her proper place in a car was on the floor!

Dusty was still alive when I acquired my cheap cell phone that takes bad photos; the reason why there's no digital picture of Dusty is that, although she moved from my home to another Pet Sanctuary where she was supposedly up for adoption, by the time I got this phone there was no way Her Human would ever have let anyone adopt Dusty. In a general way, Dusty was the type of cat seen below. If she had any really distinctive feature it was the way she appeared to be a spring kitten when she was rescued from a highway and taken to a shelter, and during the next seven years, until she died of what might have been a geriatric cat disease, she never looked a day older...whether she lived eight years or eighteen years will never be known.

Blossom from Atlanta...sounds as if she just might be a stolen barn cat. Always double-check before giving money to shelters to make sure an animal wasn't stolen. In summer so many unwanted cats and kittens are legitimately put up for adoption that it's hard to imagine anyone finding time to steal a cat, but cat haters have been known to steal barn cats and place them in shelters:

Nicky from Herndon:

Bonnie from New York City:

"Those cats don't look alike," you say. Well, they don't, and I'd never mistake any of them for Dusty...but that's the general type of cat Dusty was. In the shelter she really was covered in dust, and appeared to be gray all over. I wondered whether she'd be a different color when the gray dust was combed out. She was just slightly different--turned out to have subtle tabby markings on her face, legs, and tail, and very subtle tabby markings on her body. Basically she was just a light warm shade of gray, with yellow eyes. She was slim, mouthy, and bossy enough to convince me she was part Siamese. Nobody would have picked her for her looks. But she was a good pet; she converted Her Human from "lifelong dog person, never had a pet cat" to "cat person" within a year.

Ferplast Atlas 10 Cat and Dog Carrier, Blue
We knew Dusty had found her Forever Home when Her Human bought one of these...well, the kind that was on the market ten years ago. Dusty loved it! It was almost as if the new human's buying her a carrier box convinced her that he really cared.