This is a interesting cat story courtesy of my Cruisers Forum friend, Nick, from s/v Jedi. Thanks Nick for sharing!!!
We took 3 cats with us when we moved aboard. Our biggest worry was a long intercontinental flight to get to the boat, but the cats, who stayed in the luggage compartment, were unaffected by it.
Two of the cats were big friends (male and the female kitten of the 3rd cat) and the other one was not too impressed with that friendship. Many cats merely tolerate each other, which is fine, it’s their way.
We always let our cats roam free except when we lock up for the night. It’s a choice, and we believe they have a better life that way, although many cats are content with staying inside. That is the nice thing with cats, and which is never possible with dogs. At anchor, they can just fall overboard, but normally it happens as part of their adventures, like during catching fish or squid. The male managed to stay dry for about 4 years, and then he decided to walk over the steep grade transom while it was wet, slipped, and went swimming. He went around the boat faster than I could follow with the dinghy, and then let me put him back on the swimming platform where he stayed ready to jump again for another swim. All very macho. We have a knotted rope hanging overboard at the stern so they can climb out. They don’t use it of-course; the rubber flap over the engine exhaust is preferred.
One cat, the youngest, fell overboard when we were on the hard. This happened during new years and we think it was the fireworks. She broke her back on a boat stand and died. That is the tough side of letting cats roam about. After that, we kept them locked up at New Years Eve.
We got a new #3 cat while anchored at Isla Margerita. She became big friends with the male, but the grouchy female didn’t want anything to do with her. We taught this cat (Obi Wan Kenobi, the one that died was Yoda…) how to swim, and she would jump in and out of the dinghy, come
along for a ride, catch fish all the time but never went for voluntary swims. I have seen cats that grow up aboard boats who do that including swimming over to other boats.
There was a French boat with a cat named “Cat”. He went missing in the jungle of Panama. The owners were searching for months, put out trails of cat food from the jungle to their boat, etc. (our cats followed those trails the wrong way all the time ) In the end, they gave up and left. Months later we were on the hard again, and the grouchy female (Pasja), went missing (we were down to 2 cats now). This is not unusual, but we reported it to people so they knew. The next day they came and got us because they found the cat… well, it was “Cat”, the French one (back to 3 cats). Barely alive I might say, with wounds and a harness that was half out and grown into his skin. We decided to try to save him, so started draining and cleaning a big abscess, cut the harness away, washed, and gave anti-biotics.
A day or so later, Pasja shows up again,( so now we have 4 cats). But I found an
email address of the French owners, so sent an email out and
waited. In the mean time, there were people volunteering to take “Cat” if the owners wouldn’t report. We liked that, because we decided 4 cats was too much. There was this one girl that really wanted it badly… but then, we got an email back from the owners… they would sail back and collect “Cat”. (We were back down to 3 cats.) But the girl was heartbroken so we offered her a cat from us (Pasja, who didn’t like the other two so much) and she was happy with that. (We were back to 2 cats now.)
The male cat was old and sick and really at his end. We had to put him to sleep, which was the toughest thing that happened since we went
cruising. (We were back to one cat), Obi Wan. She was not happy alone, so we gave her to the daughter of a local guy we know here in Panama, where she is happy and catching lizards all day. So now we’re at 0 cats!
We still see Pasja and Obi Wan Kenobi now and then, and they still recognize us