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 welcome 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?|
|The first photo of the kittens|
|Sinh supervising the fridge rebuild|
|Sinh supervising raising the main|
|Sinh and Bennett supervising the diver|
|So much to learn, so little time|
|Learning the 'ropes' are in fact sheets|
|Not so bad after all|
All the cats pretty well sleep where they wish (particularly the twins who prefer to get under the doona with us). Sinh and Bennett share a cat bed, in cold weather and and whilst Timmy has his own, he has found a favourite locker.
|Bed: check. Toys: check. TV remote: check|
|Boom makes a cosy bunk|
|Sleeping on the job|
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. 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.
We have a litter tray wedged in under the companionway (cleaned as used) and another on the aft deck at anchor. We use Breeders Choice litter, 99% recycled paper so easy to dispose of. Once again, we can stow 3 or 4 months supply.
|Litter tray under the steps|
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 PDFs. 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|
We have been fortunate since we had the cats, that the vet was mobile and would give them their checkups and vaccinations on the boat. Once we return to SE Asia, we will see if we can convince the local vet to come for a sail! We use Dr Zoo sunscreen for Sinh who being a Lilac, has many 'pink' and pale areas. All the cats are dosed with Revolution monthly, even if they are unlikely to catch a flea or worm. Keith trims their nails monthly and the scratching post in the saloon is tied to the mast step offshore. We carry a cat First Aid Kit and medications from the vet.
|Nail trimming time|
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!
Given our planned return to SE Asia in July, the cats have also now received their Rabies vaccinations. Although they have these shots, the cats are never permitted to return to Australia, given we are cruising through a Category 1 Rabies area.
Since the cats have been aboard, and with both us working, our escapes have been been confined to coastal holidays. Returning to our favourite cruising grounds, we look forward to sharing their excitement as well as ours in discovering new horizons. We would not be without our catz.
Time spent with a cat/s is never wasted