The Purrfect Trip: On the road with the traveling kitten

Photo of The Purrfect Trip: On the road with the traveling kitten by Himani Sahni

Tiny paws claw at the ropes hanging off a jute bed as the cloudy trails mystify the green valley and change the view, yet again. The bed is placed outside a wooden cottage on the secluded hillside of Vattakanal, a few kilometers from Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu. The playful kitten is Kukku Singh, the two-month old traveling kitten, who is enjoying the first of her many adventures at one of South India’s most scenic spots.

Just a year ago, if you'd asked me how to travel with a cat, I would first think you're crazy and then probably would have helped you look for some articles on the internet. Today, after being on over five road trips and four flights with Kukku, here I am, writing one.

Kukku was hiding under a car when she came out and held onto my brother’s foot and refused to let go. That was it. The beginning of the greatest love affair. With no heart to leave her behind, just two days after being chosen as her new family, we stuck to our original plan with a furry addition and set out for what turned out to be the 'warmest' road trip of our lives.

Enroute Kodaikanal

We drove past coconut trees and extensive green landscapes as tiny water droplets on the window pane, made the lush greens seem more than alive. Suddenly, all the worries of never having a cat as a pet before, let alone be on the road with one flew off as fast as the clouds that were racing us.

Kukku seemed to fit right in. She would switch laps for her nap-time, happily gorged on chicken popcorn we got the way and curiously explored the highway corners during pee-breaks. When it was time, she would jump right back onto the back seat and continued watching other vehicles, villages and animals, pass us by.

Photo of Bengaluru, Karnataka, India by Himani Sahni

Spot with a view

On reaching, we had set up a makeshift litter tray (clueless about this concept at the time) near the washroom where we were staying and shredded more leftover chicken for her meals. I honestly don't know what I fell for more, the mesmerizing green valley or her matching eyes that lit up, every time she sat out on the porch, looking at it.

Photo of Vattakanal, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India by Himani Sahni

Day 01 Friend 01

I noticed something move in her mouth, as she walked in from the porch and headed straight under the bed. Hesitant, I looked under and saw the wild little creature that she’d brought in from the great Kodai jungle, now lying on the floor. We shrieked in fear of Kukku feasting on the tiny frog, but to our surprise, she just tapped on its back repeatedly and watched it land two centimeters away from her. We couldn't help but watch in awe, her way of breaking the ice and playing with her first friend, who was obviously holding on to its dear life.

Photo of The Purrfect Trip: On the road with the traveling kitten by Himani Sahni

Easy Breezy

Amidst the cold breeze of Vattakanal, the 'princess of hills', Kukku enjoyed the company of swift monkeys, fearsome dogs and iridescent beings of the animal kingdom in the next two days, all from the safe distance of our laps and we couldn't feel any luckier.

This unplanned addition to the road trip was nothing short of purrfection. Hard to believe as it was, we had just spent the weekend looking over the meadows, playing hide-and-seek amid the clouds and chilling with a kitten that we hardly knew anything about, until a week ago.

Photo of The Purrfect Trip: On the road with the traveling kitten by Himani Sahni

Traveling Kukku

The success of the first trip in the deep South, paved the way for Kukku's trips to Goa, Pondicherry, Ooty, Kasauli, and Delhi in subsequent months as we simultaneously learnt more about caring for cats and became certified pet parents.

Now, she travels in the comfort of her home slash travel bag, along with travel essentials like a portable washroom, and her favorite, tuna. Beginning to seek the joy of the journey than the destination, we now look forward to longer hours on the road than to the place we are visiting. Just as subtly she claimed the back seat for all trips to come, her pink nose, green eyes and tiny paws imprinted our hearts forever, giving a whole new meaning to traveling.

Kukku after her flight to Delhi, India

Photo of The Purrfect Trip: On the road with the traveling kitten by Himani Sahni