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Cats' Adventures & Travels 19
In 1996, Chuck and Laura Rose decided they wanted to escape from the crowds, stresses and complications of life in the business world and take to a simpler and slower pace of life, voyaging and sailing aboard their 27-foot (roughly 8-metre) sloop Lealea. They enlisted as 'bosun' neutered female kitten Bree, from the Hawaii Humane Society on Oahu, at Christmas when she was just six weeks old. Her full name was 'Boatswain Bree T. Cat'.
Their voyages led them to explore the Pacific North West, the San Juan Islands, the Canadian Gulf Islands, Alaska, British Columbia and the Pacific islands, as well as Hawaii. Initially, while in port, to keep Bree from straying too far a device was installed on the boat that emitted a high-frequency sound, unpleasant to cats, which sent her scampering back home if she crossed the beam. She soon got the message, so the device was no longer necessary and was put away. From experience with a previous cat Bree's owners knew that if allowed to roam when in port, it was all too easy for a feline to venture onto another boat, perhaps be unable to get out again and, if the boat was not in use for a while, no one would know the cat was there.
When the voyages got under way, Bree spent little time on land only when she needed to go to the vet's. For the first few days she was seasick and ate little, but soon 'gained her sea legs' and then there was no stopping her! When she was young she was quite the acrobat; climbing all over the boat, up onto the awnings and all over the place. Consequently, she fell into the water quite often! Cats are good swimmers and have no problem climbing out of the water, provided they have something to get their claws into; a strip or two of carpet hanging over the side of the boat to the water line does the trick. The biggest problem Bree caused was that after falling in and then regaining the boat she would always dash straight to her humans' pillows, dripping salt water everywhere, to dry herself! They had to intercept her, put her under the hose to wash off the disagreeably polluted water of the harbour and then dry her with a towel. As she matured and became older, wiser (and fatter!) she rarely fell in any more.
Bree had her litter box on the cabin top, where it was out of the way and under the cover of the awnings; then, when they went to sea, the box went into the forward cabin on the sole between the forward lockers. Keeping the box clean and in a quiet position avoided numerous behavioural problems.
Her life aboard can be seen in a YouTube clip and at the right of the screen when viewing this there are thumbnails for numerous other videos taken on particular days, but they don't necessarily show Bree. She does feature in stills throughout Bree's boat tour, and she also kept a blog.
Bree died in August 2012 aged 16. She had been ill on and off for a few months, so while Lealea was in Alaska Chuck and Laura took the opportunity of taking her to the vet in Sitka. Kidney failure was diagnosed, so common in older cats, and the heartbreaking decision was made to put their bosun of 16 years to sleep, rather than have her suffer further. The boat's log pays tribute to her, and includes comments of sympathy.
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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is now no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.
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