So they say impossible is nothing. I believe in that.
When I told my boyfriend what my plan was for our holiday, he did not even freak out.. And that makes him the only person of this kind, at least amongst the people I know.
First things first. I had this plan of building an outdoor playground for the cats for months now. My idea came from an article I read about the regulations of having cats in certain countries. In many places they are to be kept indoors or in your garden – if you can guarantee they will not be able to escape. Tough job. Through this I found those so called catios which is a short form for cat patios. (Okay, mine did not come out as great as these, but still cool.)
To give you more insight, me and my cats live in a flat on the 6th floor in the capital city, so all they know about nature is that flies come in from time to time, and some sand on our shoes, too. I really wanted them to see more of the world, so last year they travelled with us to a wellness hotel at lake Balaton where we had some walks around the lake, experienced what it is like to travel together, how to eat fish and chips when you are sitting in a bag, playing with grass and meeting other humans, dogs and ferrets. Since then, we had a couple of day trips, but nothing special really.
This year I wanted step to the next level and spend our holiday at my Grandparents’ house in the countryside. We even bought a fast set pool for them, so we could enjoy a bit of water, too.
When I told them my plan of building a catio in their back garden, they took it a lot better than expected. We found a little space that is protected from the sun by huge trees, made a plan (which later proved to be not-so-useful), and bought all materials needed.
All in all, it took us 3 days (and about 2 broken nails and 70 little injuries) to build this cube shaped cat-patio, that is 2 metres wide and equally tall. It has a door and plenty of cat furniture. We made sure they are not able to escape and nothing can enter either. Even though it seemed completely safe, protected from sun, rain and other animals, I still felt like I won’t be able to sleep without them. As I respect my grandparents strict rules of “no animals in the house” I needed to come up with an idea for sleeping together.
I have never been camping, so buying a massive tent looked like the best option. So why not?
“Are you completely out of your mind? You are seriously going to camping with the cats to your Granny’s back garden!?”
Well, it may sound stupid, but yes.
So we did.
After only one night, the cats got used to the new situation quite well. They knew they were staying in the catio while we were in the pool, sunbathing, having a barbeque and some chit-chat with our friends. They liked to watch us and the fact they could actually have a good view of the whole backyard. We took them out for walks 2-3 times a day, the rest they spent sleeping, hunting for insects, any moving objects or each other. Oh, and they also enjoyed meeting with other cats who came around to check them out. Some of them sat at the catio during the day, some only came at nightfall. Xeni even had a little lover, some serious wooing was involved! 🙂
The cats slept the whole night through (this never ever ever happens at home) and even if they woke up they were careful not to wake us. They knew breakfast was served in the catio at 9 and they knew dinner time was at 10. At about midnight they came sitting at the door waiting to be transferred to the tent, and as we killed the lights they went to sleep straight away. They behaved a lot better than they do at home. Never tried to escape, and if they somehow managed to go around my back and leave the catio, they went straight to the tent for some “on pillow sleeping”.
All in all, we had a great time, they had a great time and seemed confident. I do know that not all cats are suitable for travelling with, but I am blessed with mine. They are also young, so they can get used to this quicker. If you start travelling with them from an early age, they get used to it quickly. Málna enjoys these adventures a lot, Xeni gets a bit frustrated and likes to spend all her time in the tent with pillows and plush animals, but even she got relaxed and made friends with the secret admirer of hers.
The most important thing is to have trust in them and this needs to be mutual. Your cat trusts you when he/she comes and sits in your lap when the thunderstorm comes, they need to know you are able to protect them, and that you took them on this trip because you love them and want to spend time with them. If they don’t feel neglected or left out and you can give them shelter for fear, they will never wander away from you. A trip like this needs a lot a of precautions, but if you know your cats and they know you, nothing can go wrong.