The Expatriate Cat, Part 1

The American Expatriate Feline – Smudge – Learns to Travel

Meow. My name is Smudge and I belong to Rick and Anne. They adopted me when I was 8 weeks of age (October 15, 2007) from the Riverside County Animal Shelter. I was found wandering the streets of Palm Springs, California . . . alone.

My first 10 years with them in our home in Rancho Mirage, California were delightful (well, actually all my years with them have been delightful). My favorite pastime was hanging out on the sofa cushions, mesmerized by watching hummingbirds.

Then in December 2017, how strange, all the furniture started to disappear. Next thing I know, they put me in the car and tried to explain and comfort me (because I was stressed) that we are driving to our new home in St. George, Utah where we will all retire together – and it will be beautiful.

Sometimes you just got to trust your human parents . . .

And it was beautiful. My “Kitty Condo” was in the Master Bedroom, and I could watch the Sunset over the golf course with the background of the Red Cliffs.

It was pretty cool – although sometimes when the Bobcats and Coyotes wandered by, it was a bit unnerving, even though I knew I was safe inside.

Then in December 2020, they gave me a harness for a Christmas present and started to take me on leash walks wearing it. Okay fine – as long as I get to say where I am being led, and not you.

Then a lot of short car rides. I would sit in Anne’s lap and stare out her window while Rick drove. Most times, he would drop us off at the local park, and I would sit or wander with Anne while I was on the leash and wearing my harness, until Rick returned for us.

Then they introduced me to the “Bubble Backpack” – a cat-sized backpack for Anne to wear with clear plastic front and sides, with lots of ventilation holes. When I sit inside of it, I feel like I am in a little space capsule. Initially, we would take short evening walks around our neighborhood in St George. I rode in the Bubble Backpack, Anne wore the Bubble Backpack, and Rick walked behind the Bubble Backpack to reassure me that I was not being kidnapped. 

Then in May 2021, how strange again. All the furniture started to disappear. On May 17, 2021, they put me in the car and said we were starting our next adventure together to our new home in The Cayman Islands, where we will all retire together as “expatriates” – and it will be paradise.

My human parents took really good care of me in unfamiliar surroundings

I found the next 10 days so strange, yet so reassuring. Rick and Anne were always there with me. And I had my favorite fluffy beds and rugs with me all the time. And I got to snooze all day (my general daytime habit) – however, now it was between Anne’s feet in my fluffy donut bed in a car. I didn’t totally understand at that time, but we would be driving those next 10 days from St George, Utah to our first7-month temporary home in Venice, Florida on our way to The Cayman Islands. They immediately developed a new routine for me (I am a cat; hence I love routine).

That first one-night-stay in a hotel was kind of cool. When we arrived at the hotel, I was the priority. They brought me up to the room first, arranged my bed and rugs, litter box, and food bowls while I watched from inside my Bubble Backpack. Then my moment of feline evaluation: they took me out of my Bubble Backpack and gave me a tour of where all my essentials were located. Then they let me explore. Result: contentment.

The next morning established the routine of our next 14 days of travel. Anne would get up around 6 am, feed me and clean my litter box.  Rick and Anne would disappear (to do some walking)which was my “free time” to do as I wished. Then when they returned, showered, and had breakfast, I would nap. I could sense some activity around 10:30am. They were packing up for departure. The last step was to wake me up, put on my harness and take me down to the car.

Although I never complained, I was inwardly grumbling, “I am still napping. “I am so not ready to go back into the car for today’s road trip.  That said, once in the car, I would generally sit on Anne’s lap initially, but then would settle into my “Fluffy Donut Bed” on the floor between Anne’s feet.  If the ride was smooth, I’d stay curled up in my donut; if not, I felt better sitting in Anne’s lap.

Around 1:30, we’d try to find a nice park or road stop for lunch. Anne and Rick put me in my Bubble Backpack, and we would walk until we found a nice, shady picnic table. I don’t understand why, however, Rick and Anne have always had a fetish for road trips and picnic lunches – and I enjoyed joining them. I would sit in my Bubble Pack while they ate with my side door open, so I could poke my head outside and enjoy a cool drink of water from my dish. It was a delightful break.

How strange. One day we stopped for lunch – and we didn’t leave . . .

See the rest of my story of “American expatriate with pets” or how I became a Caribbean cat . . .