My cat, Tulip, loves to travel and to meet new dogs. Yes, you read that right. And no, this isn’t her online dating profile. You may have read before about Tulip’s insatiable appetite. Or her uncanny ability to zap away a dog person’s “cat allergy” with one single cuddle. But I’ve been a bit wrapped up in other life tasks, and it’s been a while since I’ve celebrated the traits of my sweet little calico.
I haven’t bragged about my cat in quite some time, and any pet owner knows that’s just bad form. It’s time to revisit my quest to persuade the whole world (or at least Catster readers and the friends and family I force to read my articles) how amazingly unique my cat is. On a recent trip during the holidays to visit family, Tulip reminded me herself.
Tulip has been a traveling kitty since I rescued her almost three years ago. I wouldn’t go so far as to say she enjoys a long car ride, but she’s certainly more agreeable about it than most cats. From fellow cat owners, I’ve heard horror stories of projectile cat vomit, urinating on seats, and incessant meowing. (Some cats, meanwhile, like it.) Tulip will let out the occasional meek whimper every couple of hours, but mostly just if I turn off the radio. (She’s a Taylor Swift fan, by the way, like her mama.) She simply "shakes it off" and cozies up in her carrier, staring at me with the certainty and confidence that all pets have in an owner who truly loves them.
As I pulled into my mom’s driveway, my phone dinged with a text from Mom: "We can’t let Tulip out until John is home. He wants to see Aria meet a cat for the first time."
My mom’s boyfriend had trepidation and excitement regarding his three-year-old Golden Retriever, Aria, meeting Tulip. She’d been around other dogs, he told me, but never a cat. I wasn’t too nervous, as I’d introduced Tulip to several dogs over the years and she’d always done quite well. Worst-case scenario, I figured, she’d set up shop under the nearest bed or piece of furniture and come out when she was good and ready.
Aria greeted me with a slobbery kiss and her front paws landing on my thighs with a thud. I gingerly placed Tulip’s carrier on the counter and let Aria start sniffing. Tulip stayed quiet as Aria jumped up and pawed at her carrier. She cried and whimpered until finally I unzipped the carrier and Tulip’s little head popped up to take it all in. She jumped swiftly to the floor, green eyes darting left and right.
Aria immediately treated Tulip as a potential playmate, bouncing around and kissing her. It shocked me that Aria easily outweighed Tulip by 75 pounds, yet Tulip was not intimidated in the least. While Tulip explored the nooks and crannies of a new house, Aria followed closely behind. In fact, she followed her around, for lack of a better clich├®, "like a puppy dog." It impressed me that Aria craved Tulip’s trust so badly that she maintained a respectable distance while always being in her proximity. Tulip didn’t mind her canine shadow at all, often pausing her travels to gaze up adoringly at the gorgeous ginger of a gentle giant.
By the end of the night, Tulip and Aria were competing for my attention on the coveted recliner, wedging in their furry selves to my left and right. We were like one big happy family. Little did Tulip know that soon I’d be tearing her away from her newest friend to go visit my sister and her dog, Gadget. Tulip and Gadget, a 7-year-old Beagle, had already been friends for years. But I did wonder whether all this unsolicited dog presence in Tulip’s life would start to stress her out. I reluctantly packed her back into the carrier and headed over to my sister’s.
I didn’t have to feel guilty for long, as the Tulip/Gadget reunion was emotionally charged in a good way. Gadget galloped out to meet Tulip and chased her in and out of furniture, until they both collapsed of exhaustion on the couch, heads nearly touching. My sister and I marveled at their insane level of cuteness while simultaneously wondering how long it would take before Gadget went over to investigate the litter box. We solved that problem by stacking several storage containers and placing the litter box atop the makeshift mountain. Gadget got in it only once or twice, although it did seem like I didn’t have to scoop nearly as much that weekend ÔÇª hmmm.
The rest of the weekend with Tulip reaffirmed how accepting she is of dogs and traveling. My experiences certainly challenge the stereotype that cats are stand-offish, unfriendly, homebodies.
Do your cats like to travel and meet new animal friends? Share in the comments below.
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About the author: Kate E. Lyle is a teacher by day, fitness enthusiast by night, and is forever trying to catch up on the ever-growing stack of books on her nightstand. Her precious cat, Tulip, can be found curled up next to her as she sips Pinot and scours the internet for the next travel adventure she can’t afford. A New England native, Kate is a proud cat connoisseur of Connecticut.