In Memory of Princess and Silver (Black Cat)
There is a difference between taking a female and male cat camping. It is their actions. The first cat I took camping was Princess the mother of our black cat named Silver who died Oct 27, 2009. She was about a year and a half old at the time. She wasn’t out of the car five minutes when the hunting instinct kicked in. Princess had been given to me as a five-week old kitten so she had no previous knowledge of the wild.
My husband and I watched her sneak and creep through the underbrush. With her soft padded paws she was able to move very quietly. When she froze, not a muscle moved. Princess was in attack mode. Her excellent vision and hearing had spotted her prey, a field mouse. Then she was gone. The birds sometimes told us where this instinctively known enemy was by their chirping. We didn’t see her again until dawn; we felt her crawl into the sleeping bag by our feet. She would stay there all day sleeping. Princess would be there when we packed up to go home the last morning in camp. Each morning there would always be at least five dead mice around the campsite when we got up. Princess had her fill and fed her family (us) before coming to bed for the day.
On one camping trip she brought a mouse into the tent and lost it. That was an experience; watching Princess chasing a mouse around and over the airbed with us in it until it got into my husband’s boot. Luckily for us, at least me, the mouse did not make it into the sleeping bag. Princess knew where the mouse was but could not get into my husband’s boot to get at it. She finally gave up trying to get that one and went back out to find the easier ones.
In the morning before putting on his boots my husband shook his boots outside and let the mouse go. By this time Princess was sleeping soundly in the sleeping bag having been out most of the night hunting. That was her camping trips, to sleep all day and hunt all night. She always provided for her family, her own four sons were along and her human family. She trained her sons well, they did not wander off on their own but followed Mum’s lead. Princess taught them how to hunt and provide for themselves.
On one trip with her sons she did not come home with us. All five followed us to the outhouse about 3AM but only the boys were around in the morning. We really have no idea what happened to her. It is easier for us to assume she wanted to be wild and on her own than think she had been killed by a wild animal. We knew she could take care of herself.
When we took Silver, her son, camping alone it was a completely different experience in that he was gone from one evening to the next. He did provide for his family (us) as his mother taught him but he was gone until just about sunset. His wild streak kicked in the minute he left the car, just like his mother, but unlike his mother, Silver did not return to the tent at dawn to sleep.
He more than likely was within sight of the camp, his sight of us but we have no idea where he was. The first camping trip we took him on alone, we watched him stock and creep through thigh deep grass. Soon he was still, and then a pounce, it was like watching his mother. We were at a lake so there was no forest for him to hide in so we knew where he was. In the morning there were the five dead mice around the campsite. Silver was under the tent sleeping.
On one camping trip in a forest we had to wait all day for him. We had packed up after breakfast and were ready to leave camp by 10 AM but no amount of calling or coaxing would get him to come into camp. We searched most of the day for him. I worried all day that something had happened to him and also about Princess. If we had waited that morning would she have come back but that was not her way.
It was a good thing we had brought extra food with us for an unexpected lunch and dinner. Just after sunset, while I was cleaning up the dinner dishes he saunters into camp with an innocent look. We packed him into the car and drove home. It is a real experience taking cats camping. He had come to say his hello and see you tomorrow but he didn’t get to take off again.