Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pets At Sea

July 17, 2012, 1608 UTC
8 deg 31.595 S, 115 deg 45.228 W
Day 11

It is inevitable that, after travelling 1600 NM over ten days and being completely alone on the water, the very first boat we should see would:
a) Be a freighter.
b) Appear at midnight.
c) Be on a collision course with Papillon.
I mean, honestly. Thankfully, the good people aboard the freighter Forest Kishu answered our hail and were very accommodating about not smashing into us. And that's why, boys and girls, even in the mid-Pacific, we keep a careful watch. Thus ended day 10.

Growing up, we always had a cat. I love cats. Not to court a dog-vs-cat debate, but cats have it going on. It was to my everlasting sorrow that I finally had to admit to my cat allergy. It was only when I moved out to attend university that I discovered the joys of breathing. I still didn't want to admit it was that bad, but allergy testing a few years later proved me wrong. It was that bad, and no house pets for me if I want to enjoy the continued use of my lungs.

Stylish has wanted a pet from the moment she could talk. As a baby, her hands were a flurry of activity as we would walk in our neighbourhood, signing Cat and Dog with great excitement whenever she saw one. The writing was on the wall.

I explained early and often why we couldn't have a pet at home. (I took the blame on myself, but the truth is, I suspect Erik loves my allergies. Having grown up in his parents' veterinary practice and being possessed of a sensitive nose, I think he exceeded his lifetime quota on animal smells quite some time ago.) Stylish accepted my explanation, but her desire for a pet was undiminished. We bought some goldfish. And while Goldie, Blackie and Speckles were fun to watch, you can't cuddle a fish. So Stylish gave her love to her stuffed cat named Dinah, and continued to quietly hope.

As the years rolled by, I heard a lot about her friends' pets. I knew every new animal that passed through her peer group. And each time, Stylish would turn to me with big eyes, wondering if today would be the day Mom cracked.

And I wanted to crack. Having a snuggly, cuddly, purring, hair-shedding, asthma-inducing… no. The answer was still no. Stylish consoled herself with the notion that, as soon as she moved out, she could get any pet she wanted.

I've been amazed at how many cruisers have pets aboard, and a goodly percentage of those animals are big dogs. Like, German shepherd-sized dogs. I don't really see how that works - washing the decks of enormous doggy-do at regular intervals... where does that get fun? But, more to the point, Stylish (and now Indy) got to play with more cats and dogs. And desire grew.

In Cartagena, friends found a tiny kitten near the marina, seemingly abandoned. They poured this bit of fluff into Stylish's hands, and begged us to please consider adopting her. Well, I ask you. Stylish actually tried to steal off the boat a few hours later to mount a rescue attempt. Tears ensued. Mom still said no. (Mercifully, we saw said kitten a few days later with her mother and a sibling, slipping through a crumbled wall. Phew.)

Yesterday, the cat discussion came up again. We had received an email from friends who were battling a rat issue (it swam out to their boat from shore). This gave Stylish ideas.

"Mom, what if a cat swam to our boat?"
"We would take it back to shore."
"But what if we were already at sea?" She looked at me anxiously. "You couldn't just kill it."
"You can't kill it!" piped up Indy.
"What? Since when do I kill cats? Of course we wouldn't kill it."
"Then it could stay," said Stylish.
"Until we got to shore."
"But we aren't going to get to shore for another three weeks."
"That's true, but we don't have a cat onboard."
"But, Mom, what if a cat got onto Papillon and it has been hiding?"
"We've been out for almost two weeks, honey. I don't think a cat would hide that long."
"But what if it did? What if there is a cat hiding on the boat right now? You said you wouldn't kill it," she reminded me.
"I'm not going to kill anything!"
"So we'd have to keep it," concluded Stylish.
"Keep it! Keep it!" shouted Indy.
"Look," I said. "If there is a cat aboard right now, you can have it."

A frenzy of searching ensued. The hypothetical cat had become real in their minds. If they could only find it, the holy cat grail would be theirs.

After a day of looking, the urgency wore off a little, if not the desire. They still think that, maybe, there is a cat here somewhere, somehow.

But I'm a little disappointed. I kind of hoped they would find a cat.

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Anonymous said...

Stylish & Indy I know that Mommy really would love a cat. Good luck!

Even Grannie breathes better without out
One in her house but that doesn't mean I don't want one too.

So happy that you were able to avoid the freighter.
Love Grannie

Anonymous said...

Whew! Good thing for a 'watch schedule', glad to hear all is well. I too am a cat lover and Stylish I still have my cat Snowy, now 15 years old!! One day I'm sure you will get your wish, but for now enjoy your adventures.
Love, Mrs. M

Karen said...

Hopefully when you find the cat it will prove to be one of those hairless Sphynx ones. Win-win! (or maybe not...)

Kate said...

Stylish and Indy,

You can play with my cat when you come to visit. Right now he likes to attack and play bite. I'll work on fixing that before you come over.

Amy you had me wondering if the girls had a stowaway kitten aboard... That would have been fun.

Are you allergic to bunnies?

Love Aunt Katie