Travels with Houston

I retired from the Rocky Mountain News in July, and now I’m in the midst of moving from Denver back to Northfield, Minn., where I lived from 1965 to 1992. For the moment, I’ve fetched up in my son Peter’s house in St. Paul, camping in a spare room while we wait for the movers to tell us when they’re going to deliver the furniture to my new apartment.

Moving’s a drag, I don’t have to tell you, but since people do it all the time, there’s a thriving market in services for people who are moving.

Movers do not, however, move cats, except sometimes inadvertently.

What do I do with Houston on a 15-hour car trip?

I started, a month or more ago, by getting out the cat carrier and setting it on the floor near my chair. It’s an old-fashioned contraption, stapled together from plywood and wire mesh, but it is sturdy and serviceable.

After she got over that, I put her food and water bowls inside it.

This ploy engendered great — and of course well-founded — suspicion on her part. She’d stick her head in long enough to pick up a bite of Friskies and then back out of the carrier to eat it, casting sideways glances at me the whole time.

You don’t believe cats have a theory of mind? Then why are they so good at getting what they want from humans? It’s not as if they practice slavish sycophancy, like some other animals I could name.

My next-door neighbor and I went out for lunch one day, and on our way home, we stopped at PetSmart and bought a pretty blue harness and leash. After Houston got over the food and water bowls, I put the harness on. She spent half-an-hour or so rolling around on the floor, trying to rub it off, and then gave that up as a waste of effort.

Finally, when I was expecting people, I snapped the leash onto the harness and tied her to the bathroom door handle. She did not like this, but she wasn’t desperate about it and I knew, if she did not, that she was safer if I could put her somewhere and be sure she’d stay put.

And when the great day came at last, Houston was ready for it. Peter came out to Denver Saturday on an early morning flight, he loaded the car, and Houston’s carrier was the last thing in. We tied her leash to a piece of the car, and just before we pulled out, we opened the door to the carrier so she could reach food and water and her litter box.

Worked a treat, if I do say so myself.

About linsee

Linda Seebach retired in 2007 from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, where she was an editorial writer and columnist.
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