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Sharon Nesbit is a former Outlook news reporter. She writes her column in her retirement.

Sharon Nesbit wrote this column in 2017.

NESBITMaggie has become a camping cat.

Hubs was her chief human. He fed her and cleaned her litter box and she, in turn, shared his naps. Then, suddenly, he was gone and she sought comfort in sleeping in my underwear drawer, her big yellow eyes peering out over a tumble (who folds undies?) of pastels.

They say cats mourn for six months. I don't know how anyone knows that. Does a black cat quit wearing black? But it is clear Maggie is needy and when I step out of the house, she traces me from window to door to window to see what I am doing.

At night, it is my lap she chooses.

But Sister Sue is here for the summer. A blessing in so many ways. And while the temperature is 116 degrees at her house, we had planned and continue to plan trips to camp out wherever we can see water.

Since we could not see leaving a forlorn cat at home, we went to the pet store and bought what it takes to make a cat portable. A disposable litter box, non-spilling food and water dishes, and a leash and harness.

The latter is tricky. For one thing, we had to find a video on how to wrestle a writhing cat with liquid limbs into the harness. Sue mastered it and has the authority, it seems, to convince Maggie to hold still and be so constricted.

Once she got the harness on Maggie, she put the cat on the floor, and Maggie just tipped over feet straight out, as though made of wood. The harness it seems, sucks the fluidity right out of the cat. Adding the leash is no problem because Maggie does not believe she has the capacity to move with the harness on.

Nevertheless, we loaded Maggie aboard Rhoda, the motor home, and took her to the beach. And here is the good news, a motor home is a glorious thing for a cat that likes to look out windows.

When we are underway she rides in the bathroom, sometimes sleeping in the sink. But once parked there are vistas out every window.

What Maggie can't get, are the changes in configuration of the interior of the motor home. She enjoys the couch because she can sit on the back and look out the window, but turn it into a bed and she is confounded by the loss of her perch. But, the bed over the cab is a fine cupola for a cat and there are soft things up there to snooze on.

Further there are nooks and crannies in a motor home to be explored and we are no longer surprised to open a cupboard door and see a pair of yellow eyes peering out.

Our walks outside have been less successful, what with the aforementioned constriction of the harness, and the tipping over, but we are working on that.

Teaching a cat to camp has been a diversion for we humans. Loss forces change of direction. It means dealing with new stuff every day, while bumping into memories and old stuff at every turn. A habit of 57 years is broken. Some days you just want to keel over in your harness and flop on the floor.

Stroking a silky cat with a rumbling purr is pretty good therapy.

Sharon Nesbit can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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