American Cats in Paris

American cats in Paris is about a clever feline who sneaks his way to Paris… and finds that his buddy tagged along. The discovery happens when their people open their luggage and two familiar cats pop out. So, what now?

Cats in Paris window
On their first morning in Paris, the cats take in the fabled view.
Fine Art Print by Deborah Julian.

There are cat stories, and then, there are the cat’s own stories.

Our cat, George, tricked us into taking him (and his tag-along black cat friend, Billy) on a trip to Paris.

Later, back home in New York, he dictated Travels With George: Paris the trip as he experienced it. Our angle on this smart cat in the City of Light was slightly different.

The full story…

Well, maybe more than slightly.

When I flip through pictures from the trip, they look not quite real.

Yet, there our cats are: at the top of the Eiffel Tower, taking a bateaux down the Seine or, as you can see, strolling the Left Bank, surprised to find the famous Le Chat Noir and other posters at a curbside kiosk.

George and Billy added to our Paris trip in a big way after spring out of our luggage. They were nearly as surprised as we we were find them with us in a small hotel in Le Marais.

Chat Noir: on a stroll along the Left Bank

Smart as hell, George, as he tells it, was frustrated at being left behind with a cat sitter.

He launched his singular adventure in pet travel when my wife and I latched our suitcases without checking. Then, we loaded two unexpected guests in the waiting car.

Related: Cats and Famous Art

The Cats Are Missing

We were concerned that we didn’t see them before we locked the door, but both are visibly unhappy when they see suitcases being loaded. They figure out that we are going away.

A full week with human catering is unpleasant for them.

Usually, they turn tactical, sitting on top of our clothes or hunching miserably in full view to get some guilt going.

We guessed, this time, that they were emphasizing their protest by hiding under the bed, refusing to let us off the hook with a final tickle.

Cats dislike being left home alone as much as Macaulay Culkin did.

Cat Stories and Feline Manipulation

After a couple of decades sharing our lives with cats, I understand many of their tactics and sympathize with them. It inspires charm, flirting or sulking when cats have agendas.

They’re clever and smart, and they hate boredom more than hunger.

The guilt tactics starts as soon as George sees luggage come out. Time with only Billy for companionship and scarce visits from nice, but none too bright cat sitters awaits.

George and Billy, Bateaux on the Seine

(The conclusion that cat sitters are none too bright is his. H has so little time to train them.)

Rigid hunching near our luggage kicks the show off. He settles into a suitcase until he is removed, or he blocks the hall it must roll down, indulging in extended grooming.

I was careless, closing our big suitcase with him in it.

Why wouldn’t I be?

We packed all of the clothes we needed, checked and re-checked. What more would I look for? But he burrowed in. He hoped to go undetected, and he succeeded.

The net result?

Both of our beloved cats jumped out, some ten hours later, when we opened the suitcase again in our hotel in Paris.

American cats in Paris on a roll…

We all have moments in our lives when disbelief pushes into our psyches as reluctant belief. This was such a moment.

I even said, “Hi, Georgie,” and reached out to stroke him before my wife said, “Oh, my God! George! How did you get here?”

In spite of stories, most of them jesting, neither of us believed in cats teleporting themselves seamlessly to new locations. It was, I confess, one of the possibilities considered.

By now, George, a partially stripped black and white cat with a mostly white face accented by mascara-like marks around his eyes, was on the bed, stretching happily.

“Maybe Billy can tell you,” I said, the facts now having sunk in.

“Billy?” she said.

“Mouw,” Billy said, climbing out of our clothes, taking in the surroundings.

“Oh, my God,” my wife repeated. “Billy’s here, too!”

Seeing Paris, Like A Cat

We scrambled right away to get their necessities –- water, food and a litter box. Then, we made a plan about how to spend the next week, visiting Paris with cats.

Obviously, we weren’t going to leave them in the room alone to scare the housekeeper.

It’s easier than you think, especially if the cats accept leashes, as ours did.

The Sights, The Sounds of Paris

  • What George and Billy saw:
    • The Louvre. This great historical museum of art and culture was the place we’d talked about most. The cats didn’t get it. Seeing and walking by scenes both motionless and odorless makes little sense to a cat. They napped in their carrier bags.
    • The Tuileries, through the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. The dirt trail along open fields of fresh cut grass and flower beds might cat heaven. George and Billy sniffed and pawed at everything. Billy chomped a bud or two, but not openly enough to get us kicked out.
    • A pool at the edge of the gardens yields to Place de la Concorde spun both cats into a tizzy with birds. Was this lunch? The birds benefited greatly form the leashes. They flew freely while colorful boats bobbed in the water. The cats were exhausted anf fellinto deep sleeps when we paused for lunch along…
    • The Champs Elysees. This was another thing we learned from George and Billy, in addition to the “stop and smell the roses” lesson we absorbed in the Tuileries: naps are good things. They refresh you and extend your experiences. Why push exhaustion?
    • After a stop at the Arc de Triomphe at the top of boulevard, a stop that rattled the cats because of all the commotion in the intersections, we ambled down, stopping for rest and a drink at…
    • The Eiffel Tower. Little did we know that going to the top would seem a miracle to George and Billy as, for the first time, they felt like birds, free floating above the world, wind brushing their fur. They didn’t have to, and actually couldn’t say it, but the looks on their faces were looks we had never seen. I’d call it “ecstasy.”

      The Rest Of Paris

      Even stories of American cats in Paris end.We saw everything we hoped to see and more. And we enjoyed this trip more than any other, and it was so nice to have them with us, a pleasure we’d not thought possible.

    • We enjoyed ourselves more because we were not deprived of our cats for a week, of having small warm bodies snug up against us at night.

    • We had to deal with a moment of panic when our cat sitter called with the frantic news that George and Billy were missing. Using the shared phone in the lobby of our hotel, we awkwardly explained that there was nothing to worry about.

    • Another reason we enjoyed ourselves more in Paris and on subsequent trips was because of what the cats taught us about discovery: slow down in new spaces; sit, stretch and remain quiet when absorbing new realities…Cats may have evolved these traits out of necessity. Their value in enhancing security seems obvious. Nonetheless, each is now an indulgence – ones we enjoy nearly as much as they do.

      American cats is Paris

      Did they really smuggle a trip to Paris?

    • Or is this just a fanciful story intended to emphasize things we can learn from cats?

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