Chloe and I rescued each other in 2017.
We initially visited Celia Hammond Animal Trust to see another cat, but I said hello, and it lashed out. It transpired that it was physically unwell and would need further operations. Concerned that we couldn’t give the young kitten the required care and attention, I asked if another cat was available.
When the volunteer opened her cage, Chloe came bounding down from her perch and started chatting. Stopping in front of me, she rolled over and showed her belly. It worked.
She had been in the rescue centre for almost six months. She wasn’t going to be there anymore. An hour later, she was home.
Harness and leash
At her first vet appointment, I learned that Chloe was significantly overweight. 6.4kg instead of less than 4kg. Swift action was needed. A change of diet was a no-brainer, but that also wouldn’t be enough. Chloe was an indoor cat that seemed to like lying around all day. I wondered if she would take to a harness and leash.
I played the addition of the harness and leach by the book, taking it slowly and literally step by step. It worked. We started walking around the back garden.
Travelling by bus
For her first monthly weight check at the vets, I tried to get her into a carrier again. It became clear that there was a severe problem. Chloe’s objection to being boxed was robust. I was concerned I would harm her if I tried to force the issue. So, I put her harness on her and carried her onto the bus.
Travelling by train
Months later, I was working away from home. I couldn’t arrange cat sitting, so I took Chloe to Newcastle on the train. I did get her into a carrier, but as soon as I got on the train, I realised this was a mistake – her meows were loud and constant. I couldn’t put with this for over three hours. I’m sure fellow passengers couldn’t. So, I unwittingly broke the rules and took her out of the carrier. She sat quietly on my lap for the entire journey. After that, I obtained permission from LNER not to use a carrier. We made the trip every two weeks for over a year.
Chloe makes her intelligence known
Returning from the vet one month, Chloe and I got off the bus. As we turned into our road, she jumped down. Chloe had made a decision. It was time to walk. Reaching a crossroads, Chloe mistakenly turned left rather than go straight on. Passing two houses, she sniffed the air.
She sniffed the air again.
Then she swiftly turned around, backing up and crossing the road where she should have done. I was stunned. Owners of cats that are let outside rarely think twice about how their cats get home. I had just seen her make a mistake, figure that out, and correct it.
Weeks later, a new pub opened up three doors from our home. I noticed that they were dog-friendly. I asked if I could take Chloe. They said yes, and it became our second home for a year. Fellow patrons were amazed, particularly the dog owners. Chloe, of course, always saw the dogs. The dogs rarely saw her.
Since then, we have moved from one side of London to the other. We are also now alone, with each other for company. And I have trained Chloe further to be my assistance animal.
Chloe and I have since stayed in fine hotels, attended conferences, visited aquariums, gone shopping, and hung around in famous restaurants. We have had many adventures. We hope for many more.