Above (left to right): Levi, Lily, and Swede
TCM: You mentioned your cats and cat camping. Tell us about your cats.
Stephn: Lily is a pure bred Ayssinian Ruddy who is five years old. Swede is a pure bred Ayssinian Fawn who is one and a half years old. Both are from from Wildflower Abby. Ayssinians are the oldest stable breed there has ever been. Sculptures out of Egypt are of them. It looks like they are walking on stilts. They like to be in high places, have huge ears, are graceful, beautiful and very active cats. They are a little too smart.
My wife had never been a cat person. I had gotten her a book that showed every cat breed. She liked the Ayssinians. I said to her, “You’re nuts. We can’t afford one.” So we reached out to breeders and met Linda. We hit it off, and she said that she had a six month old male that she couldn’t keep in her cattery. She brought in Levi, and he put his paw on my shoulder and snuggled into me. There was instant bonding.
Then, she called us and told us about a female cat that had some health problems. That was Lily. She is shy and very high strung. She was placed unsuccessfully, but took to us. She has become increasingly social as the years go on.
Now we have Swede. My wife fell in love with him. He fully demands your attention, and not passive attention. Swede is fun to be around. If I don’t get one good belly laugh with him, it’s a rare day.
TCM: How long have you been camping with cats?
Stephn: Within six months of having Levi we were camping with him. With Lily and Swede it was right away.
TCM: Was there a camping adaptation period for each cat?
Stephn: They don’t get to refuse. I had a Russian Blue and threw him in my sports car. He wouldn’t put up with it. He meowed from Oakland to Fresno. I just ignored him until he went hoarse. The lips were moving, but the voice was gone. Then, he rolled up on seat and that was it. He got so his rear feet would be on seat and eyes were looking out the window with his nose looking at the air conditioning vent.
Upgrading from the truck shell to the Four Wheel Camper was wonderful for all of us. We keep our cats in the cab while the truck is moving so we can keep an eye on them. We park, plug in if we have it available, pop up the top, set up the bed, open the window slider on the truck, and they’re in the camper. Their litter box is up front in the truck so they go back and forth. The camper gives them a lot of room.
Above: Lily saying, “Hi”!
TCM: What recommendations do you have for our readers who travel with cats?
Stephn: Here are some recommendations.
Schedule – Cats are independent creatures, but they find comfort and adapt well to ritual. We impose feeding times on our cats. They get fed twice a day on a set time. They can also count on their litter box being cleaned at about the same time each day. We do our best to hold that schedule while on the road. Often times they insist on it.
Water – I have heard from vets that many people do not put water out for their cats. These owners seem to think cats get enough fluid from wet food. They do not. So they rely on dripping faucets and open commodes. We have a small ceramic water bowl bungeed to the bulk head of their platform. We also have a so called “spill proof” water bowl in the camper. The spill proof bowl is great. It is a bit difficult to empty and clean, but it tends not to spill.
Litter Box – Cats rely on us for their needs. They communicate as best they can without words. Access to the litter box at all times seems only fair. It’s far better then finding they have relived themselves some place in the cab.
Above: Levi and Lily on their cat bed that’s on a platform in the truck.