T.K.’s Story

This is for those of you who have been surprised I travel with my cat in my truck & wonder how it came to be that she’s with me.
I have to say I wasn’t expecting her to come into my life. I was busy changing careers & was in truck driving school when my roommate came busting in the door of our apartment one day and announced he had a surprise for me. He handed me a box, and I could feel that whatever was in it was moving! Just as I was going to unfold the box flaps, up pops a little bitty head with big eyes.
He’d been at the local Wal-Mart parking lot, & fell for the old “free to a good home“ trick (grin) & once he looked inside the box of wiggly felines, he had convinced himself it was a good idea to take one.

Well, I like kittens & all, but with me going into trucking and facing weeks or months on the road at a time, I had mixed feelings. It just didn’t seem like a good time to get attached to a small kitten. She was only two weeks old, not really old enough for another whole month to be separated from her mother.
But she was very cute, & I looked in her face & gave her the temporary name of "Golfball Head". That is because her head was only the size of a golf ball, and not any bigger! The body behind that tiny head was frail & skinny. BigRigTravels: Baby TK &emdash; Relly, we goes to see America?

It seemed like she formed an instant attachment to me, and knew exactly who she wanted to be with. Whenever my roommate tried to hold her, she would climb down his arm, and reach out to me. When placed on the floor, she would make a beeline to my leg. She was not quite strong enough to climb up then, but she struggled mightily. After a few laughs, my heart would dissolve & I would help her up, and she would immediately fall asleep in my arms.
Like she was already my responsibility, I found myself pondering what to do about her. If I allowed myself to get really attached to her, then what? How does a trucker take care of a little kitten on the road? And I didn’t like to have to tell my roommate I couldn’t keep his spontaneous gift.

Whenever I was at home, I had a playful & affectionate little shadow following me. I had to constantly be careful of where I stepped because the kitten would run after me as I moved about the room. And I saw something was not quite right. She wasn’t walking right. She kinda dragged her hind leg & stumbled a lot. If she tried running, she would fall flat on her face within a few short feet. At first I figured she was just so tiny and everything would be alright as she grew stronger.
Her condition worsened the next few days. Her breathing had become increasingly difficult. She did not want to run and chase me anymore.
We took her to see the vet, & shortly the vet was shaking his head & saying “Don't get attached". She was gravely sick, and he gave her a 10% chance of surviving the next 48 hours.
We just looked at each other. He gave me a few medicines, and told me to just try to keep her comfortable. All I could do was to care for her with tenderness, coax her to eat, and worry. I checked on her several times an hour around the clock.

I called my mom, 500 miles away, & sadly asked prayer for my little kitty. (Notice I said “my” little kitty.)
At the end of 48 hours, she got up and walked to her water bowl. My heart thumped joy!
Over the next few days, she continued to improve. She was eating regularly, and growing stronger.
Over the next two weeks, she steadily improved. I took her back to the vet, & he was amazed that she had indeed survived! She still had some medical issues to contend with, but he prescribed just one pill this time and some eye drops.

As the vet handed her over to me, she climbed up my arm, and instead of being satisfied with being cradled in my arms as before, she kept climbing. She climbed all the way up to my shoulder and sat there! I tried to get her down, but with those needle-sharp kitten claws into my shirt fabric she was secured. It was like she made it very clear this was her destination all those other times when she had fallen into exhausted sleep in the crook of my arm. I laughed out loud, and so did the vet’s office assistants.
I went down the hallway to the main part of the pet store with her perched on my shoulder just like a pirate with his parrot. Since she had now grown some, "Golfball Head" didn't seem right anymore. She’d earned the second name she was going to have. "Parrot".

She perched on my shoulder at every opportunity. We’d watch TV together like that, & when sleeping she kept as close to that position as possible by sleeping curled against my neck. She had good balance & hung on wherever I went. BigRigTravels: TK's Story &emdash; Peace and quiet at last!

Finally it was time for me to get on the road, so my buddy Joe kept my little kitty who thought she was a parrot. I kept plenty occupied the next 30 days with on-the-road training with an experienced driver.
When finished & assigned my own truck, Joe told me he was moving out of our old digs. Parrot had to have a home somewhere. I had missed her cheerful personality & the way she had learned to say “hi” to me by blinking & bobbing her head, emitting a small meow that had a “hi” sound & keeping it up until I said “hi” back to her. No matter I’d never heard of anyone else having a truck cat, I had seen plenty truck dogs, & didn’t want to hold her “race” against her (grin), so caution to the wind, I decided together she & I had new worlds to explore.

She took over my truck cab. Most of the things in there are hers, & what isn’t, she disputes it, & tries to convince me I’m wrong. She steals & bites up my 6” clear ruler I need for doing my log book. She has toys all over the place, & her official pet-store bed resides in the co-driver seat, but anyone who knows cats, knows wherever a cat falls asleep, that is her bed. Many days it’s my lap.
I quickly & firmly taught her about several issues like no running on the dash while I’m driving. It’s hers when we park though. She uses the steering wheel for a jungle gym, twirling through & around it. She gathers small crowds & entertains them whenever I am parked in a place people are passing by. Once I came out of a store & saw a whole family hanging on my truck to look at the cat.

Somewhere along the way she gave up on sitting on my shoulder as I wouldn’t allow it while driving. Soon I’d find myself talking to her & mostly calling her “Little Girl”.
She adapted readily to my schedule, but being a feline, she wants some sort of order maintained. She insists we get on the road early every day, & took on the job of being the morning rooster. She stands on my chest along about daylight, loudly announcing it’s morning. Which works fine if I haven’t had a midnight delivery, or been up driving through large cities at 3 a.m. so as to avoid traffic. In which case, I grab my furry alarm clock & pull her under the covers for a cat nap. If that doesn’t work, she soon ambles off to see if she can spy birds in a puddle or maybe find my newest 6” ruler to chew up.
Now with a child or a pet, I don’t think anyone can figure everything out in advance. We do our best to keep them safe, but the unexpected can still happen.

Mine came one day in Mississippi. I made my delivery & afterward pulled into a truck stop to sleep in the middle of the day, hoping some sleep would rid me of an allergy headache. I sure needed that sleep, for when I awoke, I saw four hours had passed while I thought I was only going to need an hour. The driver’s side window was down (I saw she had managed to step on the auto window control) & Little Girl was not in sight. Alarm!
It was a big truck stop with lots of trucks moving all over the place, pulling in & out & backing up. I knew no one could see a small gray cat walking across all that space. I scanned the lot as fast as my eyes would move, then looked with further alarm at the dense woods we were next to. I feared Little Girl was gone now as unexpectedly as she had come into my life.
I searched, calling her name, asking people everywhere had they seen a small cat. The hope meter in my chest was dipping very low, when I went out a back way of a building & happened to see a security lady.
I greeted her with only my question, “Seen a small cat?”. “Yes.” A great rush of joy pushed the hope meter in my heart back to nearly the top & it quivered on the verge of overflow while I asked, “When, where?”
She pointed to a storage shed & took me to where she had Little Girl in a box. She explained she had been sitting outside doing her paperwork preparing to go home & was surprised when up runs a playful little cat trying to get her ruler! Thinking her abandoned, she had put her into a box to take home to her kids.
Had our paths not converged out that door, or she had gone home before I awoke, Little Girl would have had a good home with this kind woman & her kids, but I was so glad to have her back. So for the second time I was handed a box with my little cat inside & her head pops up out of the box at the sound of my voice, just as before!

After that, I fixed both door buttons so they couldn’t be lowered accidentally. I really thought.
She escaped again one day in the desert where I’d stopped for some time off at a nice trucker’s resort. I had a chance to get away from it all & go up into the mountains to take some photos. It was such a scorcher of a day I had to leave the air-conditioner running. I was away all day & back at sundown. First thing I saw was the truck window down! Kitty tracks showed how she had walked around the window ledge & across the hood & jumped off. I scanned the gathering darkness of the desert. Another guy got a flashlight, too, & helped me search. I loudly called her name. I had no idea how long she had been on her own. Coyotes or wolves were already howling. Owls & other nightbirds were hunting. It was a dangerous place to be lost.
More than an hour into searching, flashlight sweeping to & fro, we picked up a glint of eyes from inside a tire thrown into a dry gully. I couldn’t be sure it was her as she didn’t respond to my calls. Whatever was in there was very scared & I was afraid it would dart out from the threat of us. Yet I needed to be sure. We separated & I crept little by little upon her while the guy helping me tried to keep attention on himself. Another shine of the light hit her & I could see it was my cat. I blindly grabbed, instinctively feeling I’d get just one chance. If I missed, she’d run, she was terrified out of her mind & had gone into feral mode.
Apparently it had been a long, danger-filled day for her, she was thirsty & exhausted. She slept in my bed for a whole day, then recuperated. She stuffed up on food so much over the next several days, I began to stop calling her Little Girl. Houdini entered my mind as a great name for her.

I finally had a chance to go visit my parents in Texas & when they asked what to call her, I hesitated so long they looked at me funny. But finally I decided on Truck Kat, & it was quickly shortened to TK. BigRigTravels: TK's Story &emdash; Making sure I take the right roads.
She's been fun road company & worth all the trouble, even though with a couple surgeries & her allergies, she’s cost me plenty. Also several rulers. As everyone who ever got a “free” cat knows, it‘s a myth. But who can put a price on a priceless friendship?
We’ve roamed many contented miles together. We’ve seen snow in the mountains & TK has tried to catch each individual snowflake. She tries to swat the rain running down the windows. She doesn’t know about distances, so she also thinks tumbleweeds can be caught. She’s great company & mimics me talking. She doesn’t hear other cats meowing so she tries to copy me & has many inflections in her voice, just as if she‘s got things to say & wants me to understand. She often makes me laugh out loud.
My co-driver has traveled with me well over 300,000 safe miles. For which I thank the LORD Jesus Christ, Who rides with us as well.

© BigRigSteve Copyright 2008