I was always a cat slave by intent, my first cat Tabitha and I became inseparable companions when my age was still just single digits. What I never expected was to become a liveaboard boater in my thirties and when it happened, my old peculiar tabby cat Theakston came with me to a new watery life on a narrowboat.
I was worried how Theakston would cope but he probably adapted more quickly than I did once we'd worked out the best place to put his litter tray, his food and water. The second challenge was a cat flap as you don't really want to be cutting holes into your steel boat if you can possibly avoid it. The solution was a false door of heavy duty marine ply with a cat flap inserted and bolted into one half of the bow doors. Easy to undo from the inside, difficult to undo from the outside it worked a treat.
Theakston spent 3 ½ years on board with us, ruler of his kingdom on boat and mooring as well as cruising with us along the Thames, the Oxford, Ashby, Coventry and Grand Union canals before he passed over the rainbow bridge aged 14 something. I was never totally sure of his age as he was a rescue cat.
A kitten arrives
Two years passed and we still missed Theakston so much that another big fluffy boy was a must. Merlin was a Norwegian Forest cat and utterly gorgeous. When he first arrived home he was so tiny he could sit comfortably on the 5cm window ledge of the bow windows. Kittens on boats are more challenging than older cats, there are plenty of small spaces for them to hide and also get stuck, usually inaccessible places like the back of the calorifier cupboard!