The Kitten that Started it all

Nick Wolochatiuk - Dances With Words
The Kitten that Started it all
WHAT SPED DOWN… – …must trudge back up. The road is called Viale dei Colli. On our last day in Florence, a sad discovery awaited us. (Photo : Nick Wolochatiuk)

This is a once-upon-a-time true travel story about my introduction to having a cat.

Our first night’s parking spot was in lot of Florence Italy’s San Salvatore al Monte. near Piazzale Michelangelo.

Sun. Jun. 9, 1974 – At 730 am we checked-in at nearby campsite to take advantage of all the conveniences a good campsite offers to vanners: a shower, laundry and washing the dishes.

Mon. June 10: It had rained all night. In the morning, as soon as the sliding door rumbled open, a little kitten struggled to get into our van. Impulsively, I asked, “Do you want to try your luck travelling with us?” She wouldn’t leave, so…

We parked for the day in Piazza Michelangelo. We let the cat sleep curled up, snuggled on a shelf under the dash. Down the steep Viale dei Colli we biked each day. Upon our return, having slept all day, she was a bundle of playful energy all evening.

Tue. June 11 – day 333: Kitty opted to spend the whole day playing in the dense bushes next to our parked van. Unfortunately, she’s not toilet trained; she’s soiled a pillow, our blanket and my wife’s nylon jacket.

Because of that, she was put out for the night. In the morning we found her sleeping under the tarp that protected our bicycles that were secured to the rear bumper bike rack.

June 14 evening: When we returned from our day as museum-hopping bike-touring tourists, we found the cat lying dead. There was no injury or plausible cause of her sudden death. We cried till our eyes were red.

Our cute, pretty, frail, trusting, docile, attentive, ever-alert, good company, wanting company, faithful, reliable, playful, more than forgiving, innocent and irreplaceable kitty was no more.

We had decided to take her back to Canada with us. Now it sleeps in Italian soil. As Saint-Exupery once wrote, “You are responsible for what you tame.”

 Vienna was calling. That’s where the next chapter of my ‘forever cat’ story took place.

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