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5 Behaviors My Cats Exhibit While I’m Packing for a Trip

When the suitcase comes out, my cats stare, play-fight, and (of course) climb inside the bag.

Angie Bailey  |  Jul 11th 2016


I don’t travel often anymore, but at least a couple of times a year I pack a suitcase and leave town for a few days. I am, of course, excited to hit the road, but my cats have other opinions about my exits … or as they like to call them “abandonments.”

I’m fairly confident you know exactly what I’m talking about — right?  While we’re busy tossing clothing into suitcases and squeezing shampoo into travel-size bottles, our cats’ spidey senses activate and they start in with a particular set of behaviors. Do you recognize any of these? Of course you do. You’re my people.

1. Look confused

Cosmo is officially perplexed.

Cosmo is officially perplexed.

My Cosmo is the king of looking confused, so it’s hard to know whether his expression is plain ol’ daily bewilderment or the “something is afoot!” variety. Having known this boy for all 14 years of his life, I’ve come to discern the subtle differences. The latter includes a little panic and irritation. He has seen me pack for trips at least 40 times and I believe is always convinced I’ll never return. Poor baby. I always return, but then he punishes me with major shunning upon my homecoming.

2. Stare

The stare-master shifts into gear.

The stare-master shifts into gear.

Then there’s the staring — the watching of every move. Along with the staring comes the following. As I walk around the house gathering my suitcase stuffing, my kitties stay close at my heels. In addition to the fascination with my activity, maybe they’re also making sure I don’t pack any of their favorite toys. Because I need to bring a catnip banana on my trips? And maybe a couple of jingle balls? Kidding. (Or am I?)

Maybe I need to remind them of all the goodies I usually bring back for them.

3. Play-fight

"Come at me bro!"

“Come at me bro!”

You know how some cats get all “Wild Kingdom” right before mealtime? Cosmo and Phoebe sometimes do this rough-and-tumble act while I’m packing. Phoebe usually starts it, thwacking Cos across the face, and then the wrestling begins. They roll across the floor like a giant furry tumbleweed. It can be interesting entertainment when I need a break from throwing stuff in my suitcase.

4. Hijack the suitcase

This would definitely be a problem for the TSA folks.

This would definitely be a problem for the TSA folks.

This is probably the most common behavior, according to my cat-loving friends. I mean, an open suitcase is an open invitation for a cat. It’s nothing but a fancy box with a handle and wheels. And sometimes it’s even stuffed with cozy clothing. (Score!) A cat would be out of her head to pass over a lounging opportunity like that.

So yes, every single time (and I’m not even exaggerating) I crack open a suitcase and begin packing for a trip, in comes at least one cat. The feline already feel the “something’s different” vibe because I’m running around the house like a mad woman, so the kitty staring and looking confused has begun. Why wouldn’t they follow me around, wondering what I’ll do next? For all they know, in my altered state of pre-travel mania, I could start doling out handfuls of treats.

To conclude, as soon as they see the open suitcase, they’re all over it … or rather all in it.

5. Distract me

"I'll just be taking this."

“I’ll just be taking this.”

Cats are attention seekers. I’ve raised two human children and sometimes compare their behavior to that of a toddler. When they want my attention, they do things they know will make me stop in my tracks and address the behavior. I notice that, while I’m packing, this kind of thing sometimes happens with Phoebe. She has always been the adventurous one of my kitties, so I’m never surprised when — while I’m packing — she takes off with my emery boards, knocks water cups off tables, and bats my favorite pens across the floor. Cosmo has never done this kind of attention-seeking while I’m packing. He’s too busy staring at me. It’s work to remain so focused! It’s hard to be a kitty!

How does your cat behave while you’re packing for a trip? Tell us in the comments!