Traveling with Tiggert

By: Rev. Gregory S. Neal

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I like to travel with my cat. Many people have problems when they try to travel with a feline; cats can be quite persnickety about changes to their environment or alterations to their busy social calenders, and Bishop Tiggert is no different from other cats on this matter. Indeed, I am convinced that he is worse. No other "fur person" could possibly hate change more than my mangy monster. Still, I think that my kitty has discovered that the changes involved in traveling with me are less bothersome than the changes involved in me leaving him behind. Of course, it may also have something to do with the fact that he doesn't like it when his favorite chew toy--me --isn't around for him to pounce upon.

Traveling with Tiggert is a treat. He can be such a joy to have in the car on a long-distance road trip. More than a diversion for the many hours of monotony, he's become an experienced traveling companion. Of course, I go out of my way to make him comfortable. I put his litter tray on the floorboard of the back seat, and a bowl of water and some food on the floorboard of the front seat. I bring the pet-carrier with me, and leave it opened on the back seat, but only rarely does Tiggert ever climb into it. I also bring his leash so that, in case he wants to brave the outdoors, he can.

A journey with Tiggert on-board usually begins with my precious and precocious curiosity box climbing all over the cabin, sticking his nose into every nook-and-cranny, sniffing his way along seats and carpet, giving the car a thorough investigation. Once it passes his inspection, he then turns his attention to me. He likes to climb up onto my lap and sniff my face, my hands -- "why are they busy holding onto that funny round thing for so long????" -- generally making a nuisance out of himself until he is satisfied that I truly am me and that I am happy and contented.

After about 25 to 30 minutes of this Tiggert uses the facilities, samples the cuisine, and then proceeds to make a bed out of my lap, the front passenger seat, the floor-board around the peddles . . . almost anywhere where there is warmth and a hand, or foot, to nibble on. He then promptly dozes for an hour or so, and then begins the inspection routine all over. And, thus, the cycle continues for the majority of the trip.

The fun comes at rest-stops. I long ago learned how to eat a Big Mac and drive at the same time; I have become an expert at the art of one-handed face stuffing. The problem is that trying to eat while traveling with a cat can be something of a lesson in futility. Tiggert is insistent enough about trying to eat "human food" when we're at home and I have both hands available to shoo the little devil away. In the car, with me occupied by the road, the car, and my hamburger, the little monster can sneak up from behind and steal a French fry in nothing flat! And, so, while on the road with His Fuzzybritches, I generally stop for breakfast and lunch. I spend about 10 - 15 minutes eating, and then allow Tiggert whatever time he needs to ensure that he's satisfied with the make up and operational condition of this new-found portion of his empire. I'll put him on his leash and let him inspect the grass and the leaves of a nearby bush. Often times children will "ooh" and "ahh" at the "pretty kitty," and Tiggert just eats up the attention while being wary of foreign hands touching his coat. Sometimes he even gets excited at finding a new playmate -- a grasshopper, say -- only to be dismayed to discover that it didn't taste as good as that bit of my hamburger would have.

I have often wondered about the ease with which Tiggert travels with me. It almost seems unnatural. However, the insight of my mother is often correct on such matters, and her theory is that Tiggert just wants to be with me. Being a minister's cat, he is used to moving about. And he does not like being alone. Heaven-forbid that I would leave him for more than 24 hours without telling him! Oh, sure, he's used to spending upwards of a week alone, and I know how much food to set out for him so that he won't go hungry, but he gets lonely in that big parsonage, all by himself. I try to remember to leave a Radio on, and have the TV on a timer so that he has something to watch, but that's not the same as having his Daddy around to play with. Even though traveling can be a pain, I think Tiggert enjoys going with me over being left behind.

And, you know something, I can understand that. I don't like being left behind, or forgotten about, or left to my own devices either. If my friends are going somewhere or doing something, I want to go too! And, when I travel, I know that my Heavenly Daddy -- the Eternal God -- has truly taken care of everything for me. Just as Tiggert has nothing to worry about when he and I set out on long trips, so also none of us have anything to worry about. God will take care of us.

© 1994 Rev. Gregory S. Neal
All Rights Reserved
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The Reverend Dr. Gregory S. Neal is the Senior Pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Commerce, Texas, and an ordained Elder in the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, Duke University, and Trinity College, Dr. Neal is a scholar of Systematic Theology, New Testament origins, and Biblical Languages. His areas of specialization include the Theology of the Sacraments, in which he did his doctoral dissertation, and the formation and early transmission of the New Testament. Trained as a Christian educator, he has taught classes in these and related fields while also serving for more than 25 years as the pastor of United Methodist churches in North Texas.

As a popular teacher, preacher, and retreat leader, Dr. Neal is known for his ability to translate complex theological concepts into common, everyday terms. HIs preaching and teaching ministry is in demand around the world, and much of his work can be found on this website. He is the author of several books, including
Grace Upon Grace: Sacramental Theology and the Christian Life, which is in its second edition, and Seeking the Shepherd's Arms: Reflections from the Pastoral Side of Life, a work of devotional literature. Both of these books are currently available from Amazon.com.