There is much truth to the stereotype that Italians are more expressive about their emotions and thoughts. Perhaps I am simply used to the more reserved and controlled Germans who will look at Champagne in her backpack with the slightest hint of amusement or skepticism, if not highly critically. In Italy, however, it has been like traveling around with a superstar, and at some point I honestly felt like the Pied Piper from Hamlin with several children behind me.
No matter where we went, the moment the cat in the bubble backpack was spotted, there was great excitement, ranging from “bellisima” to “amore”, and every possible compliment in-between. The cat, who has always loved being the centre of attention – and in this respect she is very unusual – reacted accordingly and put on a great show. There were evenings when the children veered away from their parents to follow me, on other days it was the adults who spotted the cat and were all over the creature.
Mostly it was the novelty of the astronaut pack with the bubble window that drew the most attention. The airport staff in both Germany and Italy were fascinated, since hardly anyone of of them had seen this type of pet carrier before for cabin pet travellers, and the security personnel had to giggle because Champagne had to be carried through the person scanner while the pack was x-rayed. I’m biased when I say my cat is cute, but when I have to carry a wide-eyed fur ball through a scanner with dangling furry legs, she looks even cuter.
While waiting for lunch to be served in one day, the couple in the neighbouring table simply couldn’t resist and asked me about the backpack and the purpose of the strange round cupola. Before I could answer, Champagne chose that particular moment to stick her head up and look out the bubble, answering the question herself. In comparison to her summer pack with all mesh instead of bubble window, this one is far more entertaining for her because of the 360degree scope provided, and it is more stable in all ways possible.
On the train ride from Assisi to Ancona (to the airport), a troop of young people boarded and spotted her. One young lady approached me and asked permission to pet her, soon calling out to her friend to come over. It wasn’t long before I had half the wagon cooing Champagne, who could have cared less at that point, but took it all in with a dignified silence and the occasional snort. Yes, traveling with this cat means opening myself up to major invasion of personal space, but that is part and parcel of the dynamics of traveling with a pet. There will always be animal lovers or curious people along the way who will not hesitate to speak up.
Not even the Lufthansa crew on the plane can keep a straight face. Upon boarding I always inform the crew about her, in case there is a passenger in front, beside or behind me with a cat allergy. Some flight attendants have stopped by to inquire about the cat, but otherwise it has been rather quiet. Except the last flight. The crew was so amused by the cat and the pack that we received a very enthusiastic farewell upon deplaning. Then, while retrieving my luggage, the crew spotted me again and I was approached by the Chief Purser. “Do you mind? We would all like to see your cat again?” Then the Captain grinned and said, “Oh good, I get to see her as well, I just heard all about her!”
The only means of transportation we still haven’t tried yet are boat and bike, but that is more my limitation than hers. I’m not crazy about sailing, and I have no idea how steady she would be on her paws, but I suppose there is only one way to find out, especially this is one cat who likes water! Am hoping to get a few bike rides clocked in before winter actually sets in.