YACHT CATS

In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this - Terry Pratchett

Cats have a long seafaring history considered to be intelligent and lucky animals. Just look at the Chinese Lucky Cats, adorning every counter.

There are also myths and superstitions abound regarding the 'magical' powers of cats on boats. Some of these beliefs are rooted in reality. Cats are able to detect slight changes in the weather, as a result of their very sensitive inner ears, which also allow them to land upright when falling; handy when they jump from the boom. Low atmospheric pressure, a common precursor of stormy weather, often makes cats nervous and restless and we use this a guide to reducing sail. 

So why cats? We consider dogs hard work; they need to be taken ashore, can become chronically seasick and generally require a lot of attention. Also they are not reallywelcome in our favourite cruising grounds in South East Asia. On the other hand, our cats ignore us most of the time and are the perfect companion at other times. 
Who needs company with the two of us?
We started with our two Burmese siblings Kokodjo Sinh (Lilac) and Kokodjo Bennett (Brown). They came aboard at the allowed three months old, after the Breeder had confirmed it was a suitable placement with appropriately suitable servants. Their lineage is far better than ours and has Dr Harry in there somewhere.
The first photo of the kittens
Sinh won awards at the Cat Show as a kitten, but hated them, so no more shows for Mr Independent. Bennett is Mr Velcro as any vacant shoulder or lap must immediately be latched onto. Both have an overwhelming need to supervise every aspect of our daily lives.


Sinh supervising raising the main
Sinh and Bennett supervising the diver 
The boys were nearly 3 when life threw a curve ball. Keith's mum was admitted to a high care nursing home and so distressed at the though of having Timmy put down, so we volunteered to adopt him. You know the saying 'three's a ...', well in this case, three's a clowder of cats (yep, look it up). And is Timmy big! The bunk is getting very crowded (or clowdered)! Timmy has had an interesting life. Mum rescued him from a burning tip as a kitten and adored him. Now about 12, Timmy is on an adventure: from tip to Thailand!
So much to learn, so little time
Learning the 'ropes' are in fact sheets
Not so bad after all
So how do we manage with three cats aboard? 

Sleeping
All the cats pretty well sleep where they wish (particularly the twins who prefer to get under the doona with us). All of them have a penchant for sleeping on the boom. 


Bed: check. Toys: check. TV remote: check
Boom makes a cosy bunk

Sleeping on the job
Eating
We carry tinned food and biscuits and supplement their diet with cooked pork, chicken, fish, lamb and steak, basically whatever we eat. Luckily we have the stowage capacity to carry three months of cat food and we got them used to tinned tuna (human kind), which is available everywhere. Indonesia has a paucity of cat food given they are predominately outdoor cats, so a lot of local 'people' food is cooked up. Like their owners, the cats' dishes are porcelain, which keeps the water cool and doesn't taint the food with plastic. We keep the dishes in a tray with a non-skid bottom and wedged in in rough weather.

Kitty Litter
Rice in Indonesia works well
We have 3 litter trays on the aft deck. In rough or wet weather, we move to the cockpit. We used Breeders Choice litter, in Australia. Malaysia and Thailand sell different brands but once again, Indonesia is a problem. So here we swap to rice - easily accessible, reasonably inexpensive and the cats swap with no problems. 


Safety
When Sinh and Bennett came aboard, we were rebuilding the bulwarks and they did fall in! But thankfully, either we saw them or they climbed up the hawser dropped over the side for that purpose. Once the bulwarks were finished, the netting was installed. None of the cats leave the boat now.
We tried a life-jacket once; Sinh froze and fell over! Conclusion: cats don't take kindly to PFDs. Nor do they take to leads or in fact cages. Underway, both Sinh and Bennett want to know what is going on so they are both in the cockpit or on deck. They are fascinated by dolphins, whales, and other vessels.  If motoring, Timmy will find his locker and stay until either food or tray call. We think he is still finding his sea paws. None of the cats are confined below even at night. 
Boarding gate - no way out boys
Netting installed
Health
We have been fortunate since we had the cats, that the Australian vet was mobile and would give them their checkups and vaccinations on the boat.  In Langkawi, Malaysia, we found a wonderful vet who also does 'boat visits'. We use Dr Zoo sunscreen for Sinh who being a Lilac, has many 'pink' and pale areas. Keith trims their nails monthly and we provide a scratching post in the saloon. We carry a cat First Aid Kit and medications from the vet.
Cat grass as such is not available in SE Asia but lots of Lemon Grass is...


Cat grass is a good option for those nibblies

Nail trimming time
Scratching post 
Keeping the yacht clean
Cats lose hair! Lots of it! So apart from daily brushing, we run a large vacuum cleaner through our Honda 20i generator. The previous saloon cushions were demolished by the kittens, so we opted for indoor Sunbrella which they don't shred. We also have a lint brush in every cabin - nothing to do? grab a brush!

Future horizons
Given our planned return to SE Asia, the cats were given their Rabies vaccinations and 'exported' from Australia.  Although they have these shots, the cats are never permitted to return to Australia, given we are cruising through a Category 1 Rabies area. 

Given the Asian love of cats, they have had their passports stamped with visas and selfies are always the norm, particularly for our 9kg Timmy. 

With our cats aboard, and  returning to our favourite cruising grounds in SE Asia,  we share their excitement as well as ours in discovering new horizons. We would not be without our catz. 
New horizons



Time spent with a cat/s is never wasted




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