By Marci Heath, C9542
Rusty E. Katt, known to us as Rusty, is an offspring of feral cats living in an RV park in the mountains of Colorado . About 6½ years ago my husband, Jim, and I adopted this short-haired orange tabby when he was 6 weeks old. He has been our traveling companion ever since.
Rusty enjoys riding in the motorhome and riding on the motorhome. He will stay on the window sill up to speeds of 25 mph with only a taut leash attached to his harness for support. While we're traveling, he is restrained by a leash or a 20-foot rope attached to the motorhome.
Because Rusty is a large cat (about 18 pounds and 42 inches long), carrying him is not a choice. So, we taught him to walk on a leash. This gives him freedom to move around independently somewhat, without getting away from us.
We've tried to expose Rusty to as many different safe experiences as possible to let him gain self-confidence when in unfamiliar surroundings. When he's on a leash he knows that he cannot run free, so he has to confront each situation as he encounters it. In working with Rusty in this regard, we lovingly but persistently insisted that he confront each situation so he can learn, rather than run, from it.
A few activities in which Rusty has taken part:
- An impromptu pet show at a benefit for the Humane Society. He was the only cat that came and participated.
- A pet parade at FMCA's Rocky Mountain Area Rally in Tucson, Ariz., in February 2003.
- A tour of caverns in western Virginia (pets were welcomed by management).
- Walking in the wet sand on a beach in Virginia . The largest wave covered his feet about an inch deep. He quickly informed everyone near him that drinking water was the only water he wanted any part of.
- Exploring tourist attractions anywhere pets are allowed.
Rusty's most unusual feat is to wag his tail on command. He has astonished several vets by this very unusual act.
When at home in San Manuel, Ariz., Rusty is allowed to run loose, but only after asking to have his "clothes" (harness) fastened on him and then only during daylight hours. Too many dangers can surface at night. Wild animals are more likely to come to our town then, and the lights of moving vehicles often blind animals so they cannot judge a safe distance to avoid being struck.
Rusty is a terrific traveling companion. He doesn't make any noises that annoy neighbors. He can be left on his own for many hours with a litter box, food and water. He does not need to be walked frequently. He lives a life that many cats could never become part of — he's a lucky cat.