I get a few raised eyebrows whenever I mention traveling with my Siamese cats. Isn’t that a little crazy they seem to imply as they cock their head at the suggestion of a traveling cat?
Everyone takes their dogs everywhere. I see them at restaurants, wineries and stores. My grandpuppies—Calvin (Golden retriever), Perry (Flat Coat Retriever) and Teddie (Nova Scotia Duck Toller )—are veteran travelers. Calvin penned his Dog Blog from the shores of Lake Winni, New Hampshire. And Perry was a celebrity in Saluda, North Carolina when she visited this Blue Ridge mountain town last July.
But what about poor felines? Why must they suffer the injustice of being locked in their condo prison, seeing their world only from their windowsill perch? Paw-don but it is not fair. Sadly, my two Siamese cats Eliot and Henry despair of this fate. When they stare at me with their brilliant sapphire blue eyes demanding justice, I hang my head in shame. I don’t know why dogs have all the fun in the world. It’s not fair, I explain. “YOWL,” they croon in agreement.
Their cat Mom, Terri, is always out and about with her two-hour walks on the National Mall in Washington DC. It exhausts them just thinking about dodging all those dogs on their morning constitutionals. Furmidable. But what really irks these two Thai princes (as Siamese cats’ origin is traced back to Thailand is they should be spoiled.
In Siam (as Thailand) Siamese cats are called wichien-maat, which translates to “moon diamond.”
Now when the moon rises at your birth and your value equates to the most precious gemstone, you can be a little haughty.
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Pandemic Vacation Trips
And so my proud little Siamese boys deplore any times when I leave home to go travel. Now I am not crazy enough to try bringing them on an airplane. The Siamese are known as talkative cats. Their yowl is quite distinctive and can sound like a baby crying. I am sure the stewardess would kick me off the flight. Fur real.
But I am emboldened (some would interject crazy) to bring my cats on vacation if I can drive my car. That’s right. Travel cat. And during the past year when I actively avoided any air travel, I drove a lot.
So my first escape trip after my 10-week lockdown in Washington DC was to Saluda, North Carolina. I packed two shrieking Siamese cats in my BMW while it was still dark out. Then I blasted the radio and headed for I-66. I think the mountain route lulled them to sleep.
Next, I took them to Duck, North Carolina in September. Traveling with a cat is always better when your destination is a house at the ocean.
Finally, in January, I decided to brave a 2-day trip to Clearwater, Florida with my lads. They were particularly excited about Surf & Turf for dinner. I let them hang out in the AirBnb while I toured Pass-A-Grille and Tampa, Florida on the weekend.
Traveling cat rules
I’ve learned these five rules while infinitely improve traveling with a cat.
Buy a huge cat carrier
Both my cats travel in the “Cadillac of Cat Carriers,” a PetLuv premium side-loading pet carrier. It is huge: Length: 20-inch, Height: 13-inch, and Depth: 13-inch. They can stand up and move around. It includes a plush pillow to reduce anxiety. My cats enjoy optimum ventilation and maximum sightseeing with all-around windows. Cat comfort is rule one.
This doesn’t mean that my cats won’t complain about being a traveling cat. My loud-mouthed Siamese are very vocal whenever they take a trip in their carrier, whether to visit their vet or the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Bring cat snacks
Your best bet is to avoid any food while traveling as you don’t want your cat to need to go to the bathroom. This means waking up extra early to feed them before you pack up to leave. But it doesn’t hurt to pack a plastic container of their kibble or the Greenies for your traveling cat. You can slip them a snack through the opening. It is also handy to use a portable water bowl.
Consider a litter pan
Next, I added a Pyrex rectangular glass pan with kitty litter for the 10-hour trip to Saluda. I just couldn’t imagine how my cats could last without a bathroom break. But neither used their pan. And it made a huge mess with the kitty litter spread all over their pillow. I opted not to use kitty litter on my two-day trip to Clearwater, Florida. This could have been clawful (a big mistake).
Pack a catnip banana
Just like packing stuffed animals to keep my toddlers distracted when I traveled in years past, I always include my cats’ favorite toy—their YEOW! Cat Nip Toy BANANA. It is fur-tunate that this toy can entertain them for long stretches. Cats need their treasured toys according to Dr. Jess Kirk of Vet Explains Pet when they travel:
“No matter what your cat’s comfort item is, bring it along on your travels.”
Seriously, Henry and Eliot love this $5.99 toy available on Amazon, Chewy, and countless online stores. Its creator must have been a cat owner because my cats give it 5 paws up. (Henry likes to wrestle with his banana. He rolls around on his back while he holds it in his paws.)
Play Audible book tapes
During a family vacation to Duck (years ago), we learned that our Siamese loved books on tape. Our family was engrossed in Anne of Green Gables so we packed the cassette tapes. The narrator’s soft voice soothed our cat Pearl by putting her to sleep in the back of the van. But every time the cassette stopped, she would wake up and cry furiously. The second we resumed playing the cassette tape, Pearl would settle back down and snuggle with her sister Sapphire. Claw-fer!
Two decades later, I have not forgotten this feline lesson. I always play a good Audible book when I travel with my cats. It really does soothe them. BTW classical music does not make my cats feel zen. Their yowls increase along with the trumpet (between 80 and 110 decibels). My Siamese are big fans of The Cat Who series of mystery books written by Lilian Jackson Braun. An ardent cat lover, Braun features two sassy Siamese cats (Koko and Yum Yum) in her books. They always get Quill into trouble.
When you finally get to your destination, remember to let your cats out of their carrier before you do anything else. Do not use the restroom or unpack your suitcase from the trunk. PLEASE DO GET YOUR CATS OUT.
Strategically place all their favorite items (blanket, cat toys and pillows) around your new vacation home. Locate the best place for their kitty bath room. (Bring their kitty litter box from home.) Unpack their cat dish and water bowl. Then lay down on the bed and let them climb all over you. Naps are highly recommended after a grueling road trip.
I wish I could interview my felines so you could hear their frank opinion about the pros and cons. But all I can tell you is that when we finally arrive at our destination, they jump out of their cat carriers and immediately find the most comfortable bed or sofa to lounge. Paw-sibility they even forgive me for torturing them on this long car journey. And I find my vacation is infinitely better with my Siamese accompanying me.
Now I end my story of “have cats, will travel (with them)” to describe Siamese cats. They are distinguished by their cream-colored bodies and darker extremities (tail, paws, ears, and face mask). Siamese cats come in different colors (called points). They can be dark brown (seal point), light brown (chocolate point), bluish grey (blue point) or lavender (lilac point).
I have been the proud owner of each type since 1984, when I brought home an 8-week-old Siamese kitten. I named her Miraku. She was my very own Thai princess, a striking seal point who ruled the castle. It was a love affair at first sight. She would run to me whenever I called her, sleep in my bed, and prance proudly for all visitors to our home.
Since then, a parade of Siamese has strutted through my life—RIP Lila, Sapphire, Pearl, Robert Frost (Robbie), and Dante (Danny). My grandcat Brutus (a blue point) is 16 years old and lives with my daughter Claire). I now live with two Siamese cats—T.S. Eliot (my 10-year-old lilac point who I call Ellie) and Henry David Thoreau (my 4-year-old seal point).
To live with a Siamese cat, you must surrender to their will. Whether they woo you by their good looks or pure insouciance, they always get their way. A Siamese cat’s tail is wielded like a question or exclamation point depending on whether they are pleased with their human’s decision (such as being fed on demand) or irritated (empty food dish). If you decline to get up at daybreak to prepare their breakfast, they will walk across your head, jump on your back and poke their paw in your face.
And have I mentioned that my Siamese cats’ Queen Anne paws are so dainty, like the style of furniture dating back to Queen Anne who ruled from 1702-1714. I confess that I think of Lord Byron’s poem, “She Walks in Beauty,” whenever I see my sleek Siamese walk into a room. Indeed, I truthfully believe this British poet may have been describing a Siamese cat (instead of his lady love) when he wrote:
“all that’s best of dark and bright / Meet in her aspect and her eyes.”
It also can’t hurt to read what the experts say about the risks of cat travel. I found this article about Traveling With Your Cat to be helpful.
Different Types of Siamese Cats
Below are examples of different types of points for Siamese cats:
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