Why I have outdoor cars and don’t board them

I just got back from a week in the mountains, and it was great. More on that later. Right now I want to talk about our homecoming, where the cats were glad to see us. They don’t freak out because they know we will be back. We’ve done this before and they are now used it it. But that was not always the case…

Years ago I went to Sweden for a week. At the time I was living by myself and had no one to check in on my cat, Toonces. So while I was away I had her boarded at a vet. Now Toonces, like many quasi-sentient pets, was not fond of the vet’s office as a vacation spot. She’d nuke it from orbit if she had opposable thumbs. But this is the cat who got into repeated fights with racoons, who had her all food stolen by a dog when the neighbor left it out for her the -last- time I went away (so she killed and ate a full-grown rabbit including many of the bones). I wanted to be AT the vet rather than needing a trip -to- the vet after one of her “adventures.” I boarded her for her own safety.

Toonce was was an extremely unhappy cat when I dropped her off. I wondered if she’d ever forgive me. But when I picked her up, she could not wait to leave the vet’s. “Thank GOD you’re busting me out of this joint!” she seemed to say as she strained at the end of her leash-and-Chihuahua-harness, nails dug deep into the door to the outside. However, the minute we were out the door, she clung feverishly to the -outside- of the same door, wanting back in. It was a noisy street downtown, and after a week indoors perhaps the sun was blinding. I think she went into sensory overload.

I pried her nails out of the door. Once I had carried her around the corner she saw our car. Now this as a cat who does not like to ride in a car. She hated it. But this time she recognized it as something familiar, and she streaked to it on her leash and screamed to be let in. I was very happy to get her in the car as I as afraid she’d get loose in a strange neighborhood and I’d never find her.

The instant she got out of the car into my driveway, in less than a second, she bonelessly twisted out of that Chihuahua harness like Houdini on steroids–and streaked off. I stood there, holding the now-useless leash, in shock. Had she done that in the parking lot at the vet’s, I’d have never seen her again. I think that might be every pet owner’s nightmare. So that’s whywe now leave our cats a big bowl of food and fresh water and get someone to refill them ever so often if we will be away for more than a day or two. Because I could have lost the Toonce and I don’t want to go through that with any pet ever again.

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