On Cats

This post was written on 5-JUL but was posted on 23-JUL

5-JUL-2017, Sakar Cove – Jennifer and I have lived with cats at various times in our relationship, generally when a cat in the extended family needs tending.

For more than a year, we lived with the unfortunately named ‘‘Friendly,’’ a female orange part Maine Coon whose destiny was a pack of Coyotes. The deal between Jennifer and me is that all maintenance of the cat is Jennifer’s responsibility: Litter box, food, water, medical care, etc. Except for the weeks and months that Jennifer is away.

Falco, a more typical looking male Maine Coon, has been traveling with us on this trip.

The experience has been fine. Falco, after a few bouts of seasickness has developed sea legs and a strategy for rough weather. In rough weather, Falco climbs into his litter box, which is snug under a seat between the port settee and the pedestal for the Newport heater.

To compensate for the lack of horizontal surfaces, Falco’s food and water are kept on the main cabin table in calm weather when we are at anchor and not using the table. There is, however, competition for Falco’s food. Hilary has taken to snacking on Falco’s kibble. Aside from giving Hilary what I think of as cat breath, there are no ill affects.

At anchor, if the weather is nice, Falco will come up into the cockpit. Otherwise he is very content to move from place to place in the cabin to sleep. He has a box lined with a towel that is a favorite, but – and I swore I would never allow this – he often comes into bed with Jennifer and me. Generally sleeping on my side of the bed on top of the covers, but will tunnel underneath the covers when the mood strikes him.

In the early days of the trip his nights were ambulatory with constant treks across my chest and nervous grooming of my beard.

Reactions of men when traveling with Falco has been one of the larger educations for me. After giving up the apartment in April of 2016, Falco had to be with us always, which meant flights with him and Friendly. (Flights on Delta are $125 per direction, often times more than a seat.)

Carrying Falco and being separated from Jennifer and Hilary allowed me to enter the world of men and cats.

Apparently, the bigger, badder-looking, more tattooed, the more openly cat-affectionate a man will be.

I wasn’t actually aware of this until I was traveling the Kitsap County bus up to Port Townsend en route from SeaTac.

Seated on one of the seats that run longitudinally with Falco underneath me I was spied by one of the aforementioned hirsute brethren.

‘‘Is that your kitty?’’ he asked in the voice one uses when speaking to a small child. I nervously answered, ‘‘Yes.’’

Unaware that I had acquiesced to much more than a conversation across the aisle, the man, in one hip twisting dance move seated himself beside me and walked me through a slide show of the life of his blue-eyed part Siamese, cooing in a manner that would be embarrassing when describing one’s darling offspring.

A few days later I was at a party on a powerboat docked on Lake Union when a genuine old biker, complete with 50-inch waist, long beard and Harley-Davidson tattoos spied the owner’s cat and asked pitifully, ‘‘Do you have his kitty brush?’’ And the proceeded to purr – the biker, not the cat – lovingly brushing the feline.

Heath, the singlehanded sailor, who on another trip, rowed alone from Seattle to Glacier Bay and back coos to Falco when he is aboard Caro Babbo.

(As a I write this, Hilary is purring, ‘‘Pretty, pretty, kitty, kitty,’’ as she strokes an orange canvass bag — Falco is sleeping under the covers with Jennifer: I can hear him snoring. So I may be writing from alternative universe and everything I have written is merely the twisted hallucinations of a fever dream.)

Now do I understand I like pets, especially other people’s pets.

Falco has been a good sailor, the Alaskan weather keeps the temperature below decks such that he has kept his winter coat and hasn’t shed.

The brotherhood of cat cooers is new to me. Does everyone know about this?

We’ll get to Juneau in another week or so, when I can post this. Please enlighten me.

I’ve always questioned my success as an American male. Is this another metric by which I have failed?

Author: johnjuliano

One-third owner of Caro Babbo, co-captain and in command whenever Caro Babbo is under sail.

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