Saturday, March 16, 2013

Remembering our cat Susi.......

We lived in northeastern Pennsylvania, enjoying our property in the woods....
when we decided to add a cat to our family of two people.

We had already cats in Germany - we were "cat people"....Not that we do not love other animals too, but we do not like hectic around us, we like to live quietly, and we are not really "alpha dog" material.

At that time we had already in mind to sell our property and going full-time on the road as campers. We had made short vacations already in South Carolina and Florida with our trailer. Dieter was finally successful in convincing me to part of all our belongings and sell the property in order to travel. I loved living in the trailer, see new landscapes, meet new people.
In summer 1998 we met and very much befriendet 2 people in Homosassa Springs, Florida, which are still our friends, Ron and Chi from Los Angeles, CA. Chi had a cat on a leash and was walking around with her. I never had seen a cat on a leash before and I thought when Chi can do it, I can do it while traveling.

Dieter and I bought all items a cat needs and placed those in the right spots in our house before we drove to the Dessin Society Animal Shelter in Honesdale, which had a non-euthanizing policy.
The resident cats were immediately around us, purring and flirting with us, when Dieter noted a lone cat sitting in her little house at the wall way on top of other cat houses. He pointed her out to me and said: She might be the right one in a trailer, she seems to be quiet...While we were thinking about it, she came down, ate some dry food, then used the litter box, cleaned herself shortly and went right up to her perch again, not even looking at us.
We told the girls in the office that we want to pet a certain cat because we are interested in came with us into the cat room and we pointed up to that cat.  The girl said: "Oh, no, not our "Peanut"! We all love her, she is the darling of the shelter. We all laughed and said that would be the right cat for us. She handed her to us and she looked at us intensely then and started purring.
We learned that the cat was already in the shelter for one year, she was 2 years old.
She had all the shots and was spayed, had mite and flea treatments etc. We adopted her December 11th, 1998 for the total cost of US $ 65.00

We renamed her Susi.
She was an American Domestic Shorthair Tiger. The color was called Agouti because the tips of her dense fur shimmered golden in sunlight.

It was wintertime, snow outside, she could not go outside, besides, we had her to train to tolerate a leash first.
She was sitting at the sliding door to our porch in the back most of the time, where she was observing all the action outside....squirrels, chipmunks, deer, racoons, all kind of birds, foxes and black bears.

She was fighting the harness first, but we made it clear to her that she would not go outside without it and she  was smart enough to get that message from us. Meanwhile Dieter was building her a playhouse from a moving drum and we bought her some toys...

and she liked also to snuggle up next to us

or play "hide and Seek" with us:

We found out that a cat harness - build like a 8 was useless, she wound herself out of it, so we bought a small dog harness with a bridge on top and under her belly - that worked very well.

1999 we went to Florida for the winter again with our camper trailer and we were the ones now admired for walking with a cat on a leash. Sometimes we fastened her leash to the camper or to our truck when we were sitting outside,

 and she was very content with that. We never let her be alone outside anyway, we were always around.
 She was also very friendly with people who approached Dieter when he was walking the campground with her. She meowed and walked right up to them.....

We had sold our property in July 2000 and said "Good Bye" to Pennsylvania. Later on we visited there 2 times but basically made criss-cross tours through the entire USA.
It turned out we loved the desert and the weather associated with it. The following 2 pictures show Dieter with Susi, first in Florence, Arizona,  and then in Deming, New Mexico.

In 2002 we exchanged the Fifth Wheel trailer for a used motorhome, a Winnebago Suncruiser, 34" long, Turbo Diesel. Susi got used to living in the motorhome really quick.....

Susi was a good hunter.....
Even though her leash was not that long, she managed to catch a bird in flight, and she got hold of several chipmunks over the years. Of course, we helped the critters to their deserved freedom.....
And she was eager to please us...
Example: she was rolling a pencil on the table and was almost ready to push it from the edge - then I looked at her and said with a calm voice:  Susi, the pencil stays up here, ok?? She looked back at me for the longest time and walked away from it. When Dieter called her she came like a dog...she never angered us.
She was the right cat for us older folks and being a camper....
Susi also liked to be safe outside because she walked into the heavy-wired dog cage we had bought for her all by herself  since a couple of big owls in Florida were hovering directly over us in an old Live Oak tree. She felt she was in danger then, meowed and wanted to go inside. Since she had the cage, she really liked it. Once she stepped inside there onto her plush carpet, she meowed - which meant: close the door. We did and she laid down to nap......
She also liked to nap under a bush.....

or on a camper table, like here in Coursegold, California...

or next to Dieter outside, in the shade, like here at Pilot Knob near Yuma, Arizona........

In December 2007 we exchanged our motorhome for a 40' Fifth Wheel "Alfa Gold", which you can see on the cover of my Google+ page.
It took Susi about 10 minutes to claim it as her own house - just by putting her body on about every corner and nook, to give it her own mark.....
She loved the additional space because we had 3 deep slide-outs instead of a small comparison...

Only cat lovers can understand how a cat can have naps on the table.......

"This is my Mama's place and the computer is humming a nice melody,  - I like this place!"

As you might have noticed, the pictures come in no particular order...

Susi's place was in between us in the truck when we had our driving day. She was laying in the Samsonite tote, the entrance flap open, napping, sometimes trying to touch me with her right front paw - mainly napping or even deep sleeping. she did not care about the landscapes flying by... When Dieter slowed down to get fuel at a gas station, she was curious, came out a little, stretched, to get a good look out of the - not there yet, no camper trailers in sight, back into the tote, back to sleep. When we made a stop at a rest area to eat lunch, she stretched and was eager to come with us to enter the trailer to have something to eat too. She had the clock clearly in her head. When we slowed down to enter the driveway of the scheduled camping resort in the afternoon, about 2:30 PM, she came out looking again, but this time really agitated because she had spotted RV's, lots of them, so she knew we reached our destination. She jumped onto my legs to have a clear look out of the window, reached with her front paws onto the dashboard, looked around and meowed all the time...   Hurray - we made it, we are there!!
We had to go to the office first to establish our lot to stay, Susi was in the truck...As soon as Dieter had parked the unit, she REALLY wanted to exit the truck... I had to take her ( the leash was always attached to her collar in the truck), and walk around the truck and the trailer, so she could survey the surroundings, establish her temporary home, like always, hundreds of times. When she had seen where she was, she wanted to go inside. When we were ready to push the buttons for the 3 slide-outs, she was sitting there observing the entire thing, how our trailer transformed from a small trailer into a real home.....

Susi was our true travel companion, an experienced camper!


On April 1st, 2009, we started "workamping" in Port Aransas, Texas, on Mustang Island. We had already experience being hosts, but this time it has been serious work - Dieter outside and I in the office. Island RV Resort had 200 sites......

When we entered the ferry with our long unit,

I looked at Susi and recognized a hidden fear, like always, when we were near big waters. She did not like the oceans or big lakes. But then I looked into her eyes and whispered:  Everything is fine, Susi...That was enough for her to relax again. She trusted us completely.

After having worked in that big campground for 1/2 of the year, as planned, we were begged by the manager to work another half year in the winter season. We said "Yes".

That was also the time when Susi was not acting like always - she was very choosy with her food, walked sometimes away from it, even when we offered something else. She was withdrawn and did not clean herself anymore, which was usually her best loved activity. Suddenly she started drooling. That was the day we visited the vet in town. This very nice lady looked into her mouth and cautiously diagnosed mouth cancer. She took X-Rays and prescribed an Antibiotic treatment to exclude a possible infection of the mouth. It did not work.....and the X-Rays prooved that her gums were rotting away.......
In the meantime Susi had lost 3 pounds already and was going to starve...She still had appetite, begged for food, and when it was in front of her, she started and gagged - and walked away.

Dieter and I looked at each other and without exchanging words, we packed her into her travel tote and drove to the vet again.
To tell the veterinarian that we wanted to have our pet euthanized, was the most difficult decision we ever made. Susi herself lay trustfully on the metal table and waited for things to come. She looked at us and I mouthed the words: Everything will be fine, Susi. Those words haunted me for weeks to come, I felt I had betrayed her trust in us. But it was the only solution, we could not imagine seeing Susi starve in front of our eyes.
She was fighting the syringe with the deadly concoction, the vet had to give her an injection of an heavy relaxant to be able to continue. I was talking to her during the procedure and petting her head as good as I could. I hope she understood that this was done out of love..........

After one heavy and deep intake of breath our Susi was dead. The date was October 2nd, 2009.
The vet and her friendly and empathetic assistant took Susi away, wrapped her into towels and packed her in a carton. We had no money for cremation, we had already spent about 500 Dollars for the visits and treatments. I took the warm carton into my arms, we drove to the campground, Dieter got a shovel and we drove in direction Corpus Christi. We buried Susi in one spot in the dunes Dieter had dug out. On our way back to Port Aransas I was blinded by tears. Dieter somehow managed to see the road ahead of him despite his tears.

17 days later we found the courage to visit that grave, which was just a sandy patch in the dunes....I took the picture from a higher vantage point.

Thanks, Susi, for the wonderful memories! You have been a real friend and companion!!


  1. Oh, Karin, this made me cry. Susi holds a special place in my heart too. Thanks largely to your Susi, our loving and special cat Foxy now lives with us and makes us laugh and feel good every day. It is clear you and Dieter still miss your lovely cat a lot. I wish there was some way you could adopt another cat, maybe an older cat... I think Susi would approve.

  2. Thanks, Tanja - Susi would approve.....maybe the last word is not spoken yet in this matter. Will see. Dieter thinks of the money - we gave everything of Susi away, and an older cat might need to see the vet more often. I think also of our age.

  3. Such a sweet story, thanks for telling it. Susi definitely had a one of a kind life experience for a cat. Great company on both sides.

    1. Thank you, Ryan, I think we will have another cat shortly. When we are parked in new Mexico for 4 months in summer, that would be the right time to get one, so the cat can get used to us and trust us before we start traveling for the winter.... I will post about it anyway....

  4. It's always so hard to say "so long for a while" to a beloved friend. I think dear Susi knows you made the sacrifice out of love and caring for her quality of life.

    Animals do not fear death, or think about it. They fear pain when it arrives. They live in the moment they are in and if each moment is a step to pain and an inability to function as they have and want to, then it it time to say...good by for now, I'll catch up someday.

    I'm glad you plan to open your hearts to another cat. Susi is watching and will know she did her job of addicting you both to that pure, innocent love a companion animal brings to us as a gift, to add to our learning how to love without restrictions.

    1. I thank you so much for your comment, dear friend.

      We have already a new cat, her name is Ellie. She behaves like Susi and almost looks like her. She seems to be as sweet as Susi has been. Since we have her I am a "whole person" again and sleep through the night....

      I am astonished that my blog here got a new template without me knowing it, will look into that. When I was asking to check out the new look of my website, it is this:

      Did you get the web address of this blog from my website?
      Anyhow - thank you!

  5. Hi Karin, a very moving post. We had to have our last dog, Rune, put to sleep when she got cancer of the bladder & our experience at the vet was exactly the same as yours. One can only hope that we did the best we could for them. We never wanted kids, our dogs & our motorbikes were always our babies & not being able to have them now is the only thing that we regret about our current lifestyle.
    I look forward to reading your other blogs, if you are interested we have one about our travels
    Hope to chat sometime soon.
    Love Linda & Mark

  6. Thank you soooo much, Linda and Mark! I will go into your journey blog. You will hear from me.....