Well, you know how cats are. Getting Bree to type up a few words every now and then is a real challenge. This being the inevitable state of the universe, I have decided to fill this space, temporarily, with answers to some of the most common questions we get about our furry crewmember.
Bree is a neutered female that I picked up at the Hawaii Humane Society on Oahu when she was six weeks old. She was a Christmas present for Laura. Since I brought her home she has never strayed more than a couple of boat lengths away from Lealea. She has never been on solid ground at all as long as we have had her except to go to the vet, and that only once. To keep her from straying too far we bought a device from our local pet shop that emits an unpleasant (To cats) high frequency sound that sends her scampering back home if she crosses the beam. It is a small green box with a couple of AA batteries that we placed near a dock box two boats down. After a few days, Bree got the message. The green box was no longer necessary and it was put away.
It is very important that pets be trained not to board other boats, not only for the obvious reason that your neighbors may not want uninvited guests but also because they can get trapped inside a vessel who’s owner may not come around for months at a time. I had a cat on the boat when I first moved aboard (Her name was Chowchow) that disappeared for several days. A neighbor asked if I had checked the other boats and told me that his cat had been trapped inside one once before. We both walked down the dock knocking on the hulls of each boat and calling the cat's name. Sure enough, Chowchow had gotten into a catamaran and could not get herself out. If my neighbor had not told me about this hazard I would have assumed that Chowchow had just wandered off. Since then I have learned that it is not at all uncommon.
We keep her litter box on the cabin top where it is out of the way and under the cover of the awnings. When we go to sea, the box goes in the forward cabin on the sole between the forward lockers. Keeping the box clean will avoid numerous behavior problems.
When she was young, Bree was quite the acrobat; climbing all over the boat, up onto the awnings, all over the place. Consequently, she fell into the water rather frequently. The biggest problem for us was that she would always dash straight to our pillow, dripping salt water, to dry herself. We, in turn, captured her, put her under the hose to wash off the disagreeably polluted water of the harbor and dried her with a towel. As she has matured (Gotten older and fatter) she rarely falls in any more but the point is that cats will fall in the water if kept on a boat. Cats are good swimmers and have no problem climbing out of the water, provided they have something to get their claws into. On floating docks this is not so much of a problem. Most have wood plank sides or are made entirely of wood. Some newer floating docks, though, are made of plastic and aluminum and may not have anything the cat can grab onto. You may be moored to a fixed pier that kitty cannot reach or you may be at anchor or on a mooring. In these cases you must provide a means for the cat to climb out of the water and back on the boat. A strip or two of carpet hanging over the side of the boat to the water line will do the trick. Just make sure the cat knows what they are for and how to use them. I suggest that you toss kitty overboard in the vicinity of the “Cat Ladder” and stand by with a net. And if Bree doesn’t like that idea she can write her own column.
the Safe Sailing Cat
Deluxe Pet Vest
gives peace of mind to the Captain and Crew. Bree, however, has her own opinion.