Traveling With Pets – My Nomadic Cat

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Lizzie Lau

Traveling With Pets - my nomadic catI had an awesome nomadic cat who lived in 4 countries with me, and I can’t imagine ever having another that comes close. I found that traveling with pets was challenging at times, but worth it.

X2 and I adopted Boca Negra Brown aka “Kitty” on the dock in Cozumel.  We lived there full time for five years, and just before we moved, she showed up and joined us as crew on the M/Y Aries. She moved with us to Isla Mujeres, and then a year later to Roatan, Honduras.  She also spent 9 months in Florida with us for a major refit of the yacht. She was not a great seafaring cat, she got seasick nearly every time the yacht left the dock, lucky for her it didn’t happen that often.

She was a perfect yacht princess though, spoiled rotten, imperious, and demanding.
travel cat on the yacht in Isla Mujeres

She was a dumpster diver when we found her, but in no time she got used to the finer things in life, fresh fish, lobster, shrimp, and filet mignon.  If I yelled “fish” she would come running.

She slept with us at night, and spent afternoons up on the boat deck lounging in the shade of one of the dinghies.  In Isla Mujeres she once spent 40 minutes staring down Tiger Woods as he pedaled a stationary bike on the back deck of his yacht, “Privacy” when it was tied up at the dock behind us.  She deigned to climb aboard and help herself to a full tour of his yacht as well, until one of the crew members escorted her back to the dock.

travel cat helping out in the galley

When X2 and I split up, he wanted the kitty to stay with him and I didn’t argue.  I felt bad enough that I was ending our 10 year marriage, I wasn’t going to take the princess too.  Later though, he called and asked if I could pick her up in Roatan because he was leaving the yacht and the island and couldn’t take her.

travel cat on the yacht in Roatan

I was living in Antigua, Guatemala at the time, so X3 and I drove nearly 10 hours to La Ceiba, Honduras and took the ferry over to Roatan to fetch her.  I knew she’d hate the ferry ride, so I flew back to La Ceiba with her, and then we drove home to Antigua with her moaning in the back seat the whole way. Again, traveling with pets can be challenging, for us, and for them.

In 2009, we moved from Antigua to Guatemala City, and opened a motorcycle accessory store. Kitty enjoyed Guatemala, and the freedom of living in the land of eternal spring.

Houses there are built inside high walls and razor wire, but they are often open at the top and as soon as she figured out that she could, she started hopping rooftop to rooftop exploring.  She had to be rescued several times when she got into a neighbor’s yard and couldn’t get out.

She had one terrible habit that used to drive X3 crazy.  She loved to sleep at the foot of the bed, but if she got jostled she would jump off and head downstairs to find something to bring upstairs.  I have no idea what this behavior means, but she would bring a glove, a toy, or a piece of paper and then start yowling at us.  If we didn’t acknowledge her immediately, she’d start jumping around, flipping whatever it was in the air before setting it down beside the bed and yowling some more.  If it was a piece of paper, she would put a paw on it, grab it with her teeth and begin tearing it to shreds.  X3 suffered from insomnia, so this noise in the middle of the night was never welcome.

That wasn’t really the only thing that bugged X3.  Not long after we moved into the city, Kitty joined a gang. They partied on rooftops, and every so often she brought them home to our roof and the racket they made was really out of order.  She got into trouble too.  One night she came home with a deep slash in her back that looked like she had gotten into some razor wire.  She needed a bunch of stitches.  The truth is that even though she had a good safe life on the yacht, she was a slug.  She really came alive when she had the freedom to roam.  At least that’s what I tell myself so I can sleep at night.

When I flew to California to give birth I planned to return to Guatemala with the baby immediately, but I never went back. X3 took care of Kitty until she left one night and never came home. I’ll never know what happened to her, and to this day I feel so guilty that I don’t think I deserve another pet.

Is traveling with pets something you’ve done or would consider doing?

Traveling With Pets - My nomadic cat got seasick a lot, and in the car would make a sound like a small child saying, "Noooooooooo."

17 thoughts on “Traveling With Pets – My Nomadic Cat”

  1. Hi, The Bengal cat is a unique example of the successful crossbreeding of wild and domestic breeds. They are active, playful, and sociable pets. The Bengal breed combines the best features of their ancestors: not only an attractive appearance, but also intelligence, curiosity, activity, and friendliness.

  2. Understand that you’re important to your dog. Your presence can give your dog the confidence to explore new things, and your dog will look to you for information when presented with a new or stressful item.

  3. I loved your story, up until Kitty disappearing. I’m on the fence about you leaving the cat with a man who had issues with her. She most likely felt abandoned by you. That you flew to give birth is no reason to leave a furbaby behind. I was researching ideas for traveling with my pack, 4 cats, 1 chi and 1 lab, I can not even grasp not taking one of them. I can leave the lab with my x1 because he is keeping a lab too but when I look at her looking at me, my heart squeezes knowing she’ll be freaking out without me. By the way, I have a rehoming gone wrong guilt so I might be oversensitive to this subject. lol Go to a shelter and adopt a cat. Take your child and have the shelter worker take your chosen cat out and watch it interact with the child. The right one will pick you guys. I have a thing for senior cats that have been surrendered (hence the 4 cats) I’m not allowed to go into a shelter anymore, i have no room left lol. Good luck.

  4. What a beautiful kitty! Sounds like she was there for you just when you needed her. Sad to hear that you never saw her again, but glade you had some great adventures!

  5. I know this post is kind of old, but I came across it thanks to Pinterest. Although I haven’t sailed the world with a cat, I did make a road trip across the US with my three cats in the back seat. They did better than you might expect: Although they cried and protested a little bit as we were driving around curves and onto the freeway, once we got cruising, they just curled up in their carriers and went to sleep. I made a point of making my overnight stops in places where I could find pet-friendly hotels, and the cats did well in the hotels, too. It sounds like Kitty was quite a traveler…and from one blogger to another (I write a cat advice blog), I’m telling you that you don’t have to let your one experience with Kitty, which happened at a different time and place in your life, prevent you from ever adopting a pet again. It certainly helps if you’re not traveling all the time, since there aren’t many cats who appreciate being nomads, but it’s great for children to grow up with pets since it teaches them compassion and empathy. And if you adopt from a shelter, you’ll be saving a life, too.

  6. Thank you. She hated the drive, poor thing. I think she was happy to never get into another car/plane/boat. That was one of the things I was really torn about. I considered packing her up and bringing her with me from Guatemala to California when I flew up to have the baby, but I knew she hated to travel. I was sure I was being selfish in wanting to take her, and that it really wasn't the best option for her. I'll never know.

  7. Thanks, it has been an adventure. The guys on the dock in Cozumel named her Boca Negra for the black around her mouth and that became her official name, but she was always more affectionately known as Kitty, Puddy Pudkins, Princesa, Pooper, Preshie-poo, I'm sure there were more. LOL

  8. Thanks Kathy! Last year I contacted the Palm Springs Animal Shelter about fostering baby kittens. I thought it would be fun to take care of babies and then give them to their forever homes before heading to Canada for the summer. They had already been inundated with volunteers though.

  9. Thanks Elin! I really do want to give in and get a pet for my daughter (and for me) because I believe it helps kids learn about compassion and responsibility. I think I'll wait a little longer because I worry that she's still too young to think of it as anything more than a toy.

  10. Aww kitty. I am a cat lover, and I love the fact that you did the long drive to collect her. I hope she has found somewhere else to live the rest of her days, and can understand why you don't want any more. #thatfridaybloghop

  11. Sounds like you've had an adventurous life – all these great places. What a cute kitty. I love the black around her face – it looks like she's been licking frosting or something! #SITSharefest

  12. I love animals and your kitty was beautiful! Thanks for sharing and for visiting me at NanaHood!
    Teresa from

  13. Ahh….what a sweet kitty you had. I LOVE that black spot around her face. I remember every single fur-baby that has been in my life and their memory stays with you forever. I still dream about some of them too! Don't be afraid to get another one though….they can be so very rewarding for the whole family. Just be sure to pick one that fits your current lifestyle and you can never go wrong. And go to the local shelters…it will melt your heart and know that you are helping another too!

  14. "Kitty" sounds like a wonderful cat, I loved the way you told her story. I bet though, if you get another pet beyond a fish, you will love her/him too. They each have their way of crawling into our hearts. And then your daughter gets to experience that kind of love first hand too. I so resisted getting a dog when our kids were young. I lost my will to fight and am I ever glad I did, we have had 9 plus years with our sweet lab and I dread the day when she leaves us.

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