The time has come for me to tell you a little about our boat kitty, Popcorn.
Rob and I got our first cat, Espresso, right before we got married, and we were happy to be a one-cat family. Espresso was happy living in the trailer park with us, and adapted well to our move into the house. She eagerly greeted us when we returned home from the hospital with a newborn Beanie in tow.
We lived in a small town in the woods, and once a week we drove 40 minutes away to the nearest non-tourist grocery store (the the farmer’s market and the food co-op!). It was on our way home from this town that we noticed a dead cat in the middle of a rather busy road through farm country. Rob slammed on the brakes, drove the car onto the shoulder, and threw it into reverse. When we got to the cat, he darted out the door.
Before I could ask what was going on, he returned to the car and handed me a tiny grey tabby kitten. Apparently, this kitten had been sitting next to her dead mother in the road. She squeaked, and I set her in the back seat, next to a beaming two-year-old Beanie.
Some Internet research indicated that the kitty was 4 weeks old, and may or may not survive away from her mother. We bought some cans of meat baby food and poured her some of Beanie’s Amish whole milk, which she happily gobbled up. Within a couple days, she was eating canned cat food.
We ran ads in the paper and on Craig’s List, but nobody was missing the little barn kitten. After two weeks, we had bonded with our little buddy and took the ads down.
Popcorn was much wilder than Espresso, and she escaped from our house for a few days one time, which resulted in our finding an Amish veterinarian to “fix” her cheaply.
Due to her wild disposition, Popcorn spent the summer of 2012 living with my parents, while Espresso joined us on Moonraker.
Espresso didn’t live long enough to join us on the move to Texas, but Popcorn and her litter box piled into the back of the Volvo. In our apartment, she put our pet deposit to good use as she tore up the carpet, only escaping once for a few days.
In contrast, the life on the boat seemed to mellow Popcorn. She could often be found curled up on a dinette seat, or sunning herself on the deck. After falling off of the boat once–and swimming to the dock and climbing up underneath, so that we had to remove a board to free her!–she seemed to have no desire to travel to the land.
Then her food dish started to get empty.
She was outside when we went to bed, but we thought nothing of it. She did that often, then either scratched at the door or let herself in when she was ready. But, the next morning, I awoke, realizing that I had not heard Popcorn come inside. We looked around and figured she must be hiding somewhere.
But, after two weeks, it became clear that Popcorn had ventured off the boat.
After that long, we figured that she was not coming back, and talked about getting rid of the dishes and litter box. We pondered new uses for the quarter berth.
Then, we heard rumors of a tabby cat on the island in the marina, mooching food off of the boaters. Rob spent some time looking for her there, to no avail.
We kept an eye out, until Friday, when Rob received an interesting call from the marina office. There are almost no stray cats in Clear Lake Shores, so the owner of a local antique shop thought it was interesting when a cute little tabby with a collar (someone else she met on her adventures gave her the collar!) showed up, hungry. While she lived there, the owner heard from the Boater’s Resale shop above that a family in our marina was missing a cat. So they called the office, and Rob took little Popcorn home.
Enjoying her time in the antique shop, Popcorn was reluctant to leave. But after filling her stomach and taking a LONG nap, she’s settled back into the routine on Breaking Tradition. And she still likes to wear her new collar.