Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The maiden voyage of the All Terrain Cat Vehicle. You may recall that last August, I did some crap domestic hackwork. Among my proudest hacks was when I found a wheelframe on the street and decided to turn it into the base for an All Terrain Cat Vehicle.

The project languished at this point because I was always on the lookout for a long handle from a child's toy to steer the damn thing with, but I never found one (probably because the places I was looking were 'op shops' and 'hard rubbish').

But matters came to a head! Over Christmas I had custody of my brother Matt's car, and I decided to use this opportunity to finally get Graham up to date with all his vaccinations. On the bright side, Graham turns out not to have cat AIDS. But on the dark side, the FIV vaccination procedure requires a course of three shots, so I would need to bring Graham back to the vet twice more in a month.

Last week I had to give Matt's car back, so I was not looking forward to lugging five kilos of cat, plus the weight of the carrier. I only live 600m away from the vet, but it feels much further when you're as unfit as I am, and in this disgusting humidity. So today was the day! The fateful day when I would debut the ATCV!

Here it is, sitting on my front verandah after its first outing – I was too wrecked to bring it inside.

I went to the local hardware store and picked up three octopus straps – two 60cm ones and one 75cm one. The smaller ones I used to lash the cat carrier to the frame, although I decided to turn it backwards to the way it is displayed in the earlier pic. This was so I could attach the steering strap to the rail on the wheelbase.

The unforeseen consequence of this, however, was that once the carrier was lashed in place, the wheelbase rail prevented the door from opening completely. However, Graham could still get in – and be dragged out, scruff-first, by the vet.

I had gaffer-taped the steering strap in place to offer more stability, but I quickly discovered when I tried to steer that what I really need is a rigid stick that can twist and turn at one end, not a cord that's flexible all the way along. The vehicle moved beautifully in a straight line, but it was hard to turn or alter course quickly, and sometimes it moved faster than I did, bumping into the backs of my legs. I found myself trotting along beside it rather than leading it sedately from the front, as I had imagined doing.

For the unsecured occupant, traversing the ordinary footpaths and cobbled lanes of my neighbourhood, and occasionally bumping into me, must have been like four-wheel-driving through rough woodland terrain. When I got to the vet, I was very contrite to observe a scratch on Graham's nose. However, he was relatively quiet compared to the hysterical miaowing display he puts on in a car.

On the whole, it was far easier and more enjoyable than carrying Graham there. I was worried about looking like an absolute lunatic to any passers-by, but they seemed impressed, if anything. "Hello, kitty!" said a passing child, and an old man commented genially, "I should be getting around like that." The vet told me that it was the most impressive cat vehicle he's seen, but he is no doubt skilled in the arts of pandering to crazy cat ladies.

However, I still ended up back home feeling exhausted and putting on the kettle for a soothing cup of tea, because about halfway home the rain decided to hammer down. Alarmed, Graham mewled within the carrier, but he was relatively dry when we got home. Not me. I just had to cop the downpour – on my freshly washed hair! my white T-shirt! – because I had no hand free to manage an umbrella as well as the vehicle.

Wonderful work on the ATCV! Would you like me to keep an eye out for a suitable handle? Would a mower handle work?
That would be ideal, although that handle looks quite heavy. Plastic would be lighter, which is why a kids' toy would be ideal.
This is awesome!! I bet Graham is the healthiest cat on the block
A possible alternative would be using a shopping trolley.
I've seen people transport their pets in said manner.

Having said that, they did ask me for spare change after.
Fantabulous set-up. Maybe some foam under the roof would ease his travelling?
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