Girl TORQUE: Pets and cars

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

I’m about to get a new cat – and I’m curious to see how she’ll react to the ever-changing line-up of cars in my driveway. For my last feline had very fussy tastes when it came to wheels.

Japanese cars were treated with disdain. Sure, she’d meet a Toyota or Nissan at the gate and march ahead, tail up, trusting I wouldn’t run her down. And yes, she wasn’t averse to a warm bonnet. But get in? Uh-uh. The only exception was a Lexus, which she rubbed lasciviously against before hopping up, balanced precariously between the mirror and bonnet so I could chauffeur her up the drive.

She loved the Euros though. She’d leap aboard and settle down if you didn’t watch out.

But she wasn’t so keen on the driving part – unless I had a convertible, when she was distracted by the passing scenery. More usually bored, she’d use the short trip to practice an increasingly annoying arpeggio of yowls.

At such times I yearned for a dog, because it’s always keen to leap aboard. No matter the length of the journey or its purpose, a dog anticipates new smells, new sounds, the joy of new horizons; of that fresh pawprint on leather, or applying saliva to glass and anticipating a park or beach in the offing.

Mind you, both create a problem when it comes to safety. It might seem fun to have your cat settle in the footwell or on the parcel shelf; your dog stand with its paws on the dash or door, peering at the passing scenery and yipping at cats. But if you need to swerve or stop in a hurry it’ll all turn pear-shaped.

And what happens if your feline legs it when you open the door? You lose her, as a friend of mine did during one summer drive to the bach. No, get a carrier for your cat and strap the carrier in. She might not like it, but it’s you who’s boss, not her. Honest.

As for dogs, they’re usually allowed to roam loose, their misguided owners figuring Fido will behave. And forgetting Fido’s an effective missile in a crash. A leading cause of injuries to front seat occupants is objects hitting them from behind. Shopping, bags, pets… and your dog most certainly won’t thank you later.

An elderly neighbour got it right when buying her new canine companion. She bought her beloved pet a doggie seatbelt. They fit to the standard belt fitting and can cost as little as $20; cheap for peace of mind.

I found some on the net – but beware when you’re looking. For I also discovered a cornucopia of pet-related fripperies it’d be too easy to get hooked on; from canine sunglasses to catnip sushi.

At least I’m sorted for a cat carrier – and I’m planning to use it regularly. I figure if my furry friend gets used to little car trips early, she’ll go easy on my eardrums when a serious drive arrives.

Read more Girl TORQUE columns here.