Monday, May 16, 2011

More Cat Stories: A Clever Cat Gets To Paris

A Clever Cat Sneaks His Way To Paris

There are cat stories, and then, there are the cat's own stories.

Our cat, George, tricked us into taking him (and his tag-along black cat friend, Billy) on a trip to Paris.

Another Chat Noir / © Deborah Julian
Back home in New York, he dictated Travels With George: Paris the trip as he experienced it, but our angle on this smart cat in the City of Light was slightly different.

Well, maybe more than slightly.

When I flip through pictures from the trip, they don't seem quite real.

Yet, there our cats are: at the top of the Eiffel Tower, taking a bateaux down the Seine or, as you can see, strolling the Left Bank, surprised to find the famous Le Chat Noir and other posters at a curbside kiosk.

Chat Noir Poster print

George and Billy added to our Paris trip in a big way, hiding out in our luggage and being nearly as surprised as we we were when they popped out at our small hotel in Le Marais.

Always a clever cat, George, as he tells it, was frustrated at being left behind in the care of cat sitters. He launched his singular adventure in pet travel when, hurrying to catch a flight, my wife and I latched our suitcases without checking and loaded tow unexpected guests in the waiting car.

The Cats Are Missing

We were concerned that we didn't see them when we were leaving, but both cats are visibly unhappy when they figure out, from the suitcases being loaded, that we are going away. Being left alone without the indulge catering is unpleasant experience for them.

Usually, they try strategies like sitting on top of our clothes or hunching miserably in full view to get some guilt going. We guessed, this time, that they were emphasizing their protest by hiding under the bed, refusing to let us off the hook with a final tickle.

Cats dislike being left home alone as much as Macaulay Culkin did.

Cat Stories and Feline Manipulation

After a couple of decades sharing our lives with cats, I understand many of their tactics and sympathize with them. Whether it inspires charm, flirting or sulking, cats have agendas. They're clever and smart and hate boredom more than hunger.

When it comes to our going away for more than a day, the guilt tactic starts as soon as George sees the luggage come out. He knows it means time with only Billy for companionship and scarce visits from nice, but none too bright cat sitters.

(The conclusion that cat sitters are none too bright is his. This is largely because he has so little time to train them.)

It starts with sad-eyed hunching near our luggage and usually concludes with his best effort at obstruction, which amounts to climbing into a suitcase that must remain open until he is removed or blocking the hall it must roll down by parking for an extended grooming.

I was careless in closing our big suitcase with him in it. Why wouldn't I be? We had all of the clothes we needed, checked and re-checked. What more would I look for? But he'd burrowed in, hoping to go undetected – successfully as it turned out.

All I can tell you is that both of our beloved cats came bounding out, some ten hours later, when we opened the suitcase again in our hotel in Les Marais.

Welcome To The City Of Light. Let The Cat Stories Begin.

We all have moments in our lives when disbelief settles into our psyches as reluctant belief. This was such a moment. I even said, "Hi, Georgie," and reached out to stroke him before my wife said, "Oh, my God! George! How did you get here?"

In spite of stories, most of them jesting, neither of us believed in cats teleporting themselves seamlessly to new locations, although it was one of the possibilities that flipped by.

By now, George, a partially stripped black and white cat with a mostly white face accented by mascara-like marks around his eyes, had gotten onto the bed and was stretching in that indulgent way cats have.

"Maybe Billy can tell you," I said, the facts now having sunk in.

"Billy?" she said.

"Mouw," Billy said, climbing out of our clothes, taking in the surroundings.

"Oh, my God," my wife said again. "Billy's here, too!"

Seeing Paris, Like A Cat

Of course, even not knowing how they pulled it off, we scrambled at first to get their necessities taken care of – water, food and a litter box. Then, we made a plan about how we would spend the next week, visiting Paris with our cats.

It's easier than you think, especially if the cats accept leashes, as ours did.

The Sights, The Sounds of Paris

  • The Louvre. This great historical museum of art and culture was the place we'd talked about most. The cats didn't get it. Seeing and walking by scenes with are both motionless and odorless makes little sense to a cat, which didn't surprise us. They napped in their carrier bags.
  • The Tuileries through the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. The dirt trail along open fields of fresh cut grass and alongside glorious flower beds might as well have been cat heaven. George and Billy stopped to sniff and paw at everything. Billy, when neither of us were watching, enjoyed a bud or two, fortunately not openly enough to get us kicked out. When I scolded him for it, he looked at me like I was crazy. How can anyone pass up these flowers? he seemed to wonder, and of course, I began to see he was right.
  • A beautiful pool just before the Tuileries yields to Place de la Concorde spun both cats into a tizzy with birds, which they casually think of as lunch and which benefited greatly form the presence of leashes, flying everywhere and colorful boats in the water. This excursion so filled them with wondrous discovery that they had no choice but to fall into deep sleeps when we paused for lunch along...
  • The Champs Elysees. This was another thing we learned from George and Billy, in addition to the "stop and smell the roses" lesson we absorbed in the Tuileries: naps are good things. They refresh you and extend your experiences. Why push exhaustion?
  • After a stop at the Arc de Triomphe at the top of boulevard, a stop that rattled the cats because of all the commotion in the intersections, we ambled down, stopping for rest and a drink, to...
  • Cats on the Seine / © Deborah Julian
  • The Eiffel Tower. Little did we know that going to the top would seem a miracle to George and Billy as, for the first time, they felt like birds, free floating above the world, wind brushing their fur. They didn't have to, and actually couldn't say it, but the looks on their faces were looks we had never previously seen. It was what I would call ecstasy.

The Rest Of Paris

Even cat stories end.

We saw everything we hoped to see and more. And we enjoyed this trip more than any other, even with the extra responsibilities and arrangements required with two cats for traveling partners. It was so nice to have them with us, a pleasure we'd previously not thought possible

We enjoyed ourselves more because we were not deprived of our cats for a week, of having a small warm body snug up against us at night.

We had to deal with a moment of panic when our cat sitter called with the frantic news that George and Billy were missing. Using the shared phone in the lobby of our hotel, we awkwardly explained that there was nothing to worry about.

Another reason we enjoyed ourselves more in Paris and on subsequent trips was because of what the cat stories taught us about the values of discovery: slow down in new spaces; sit, stretch and remain quiet while absorbing a new reality ... 

Cats may have evolved these traits out of necessity. Their value in enhancing security seems obvious. Nonetheless, each is now an indulgence – ones we enjoy nearly as much as they do.

Cat Stories of Pet Travel To Paris

Did they really smuggle a trip to Paris?

Or is this just a fanciful story intended to emphasize things we can learn from cats. Maybe you should read George's own version to be sure. Or maybe it doesn't matter as long as we learn the lesson of our cat stories about taking some chances, having adventures and indulging in life as it come by.

David Stone

You can find out more about Travels With George: Paris and all my other books on my Amazon Author Page.

Post a Comment