| 16.8°C Dublin

My cat prefers Paris

Owner: Stephen Stewart from Killiney, Co Dublin, and his nine- year-old daughter Tara

Animal: Zigzag, a French cat with a zigzag tail

Background: Tara hates leaving Zigzag at home when the family travels back to Ireland

Stephen is originally from Killiney, and he works for a computer software company based in Bray. He's a teleworker, spending most of his time in his home office using the internet to connect to his workplace. The unusual aspect of his job is that Stephen lives in Paris nearly 800km from Bray. He married a Parisian girl called Marion, and they've lived there for 16 years and now have two children. Stephen and his family enjoy the best of both countries: daily life in Paris supplemented by regular visits to Ireland when face-to-face work meetings are needed.

Stephen and his family took on Zigzag as a kitten. His name derives from an unusual physical characteristic -- instead of a cat's normal long sweeping tail, Zigzag has a short stumpy tail in the shape of a rigid Z. He was born with this physical abnormality due to shortened, distorted bones in his tail.


It doesn't cause him any problem, but it gives him a distinctive appearance on a sideways profile. He's a friendly cat, spending his days sitting on Stephen's computer in his home office, and in the evenings, he likes to be close to Tara, often sleeping on the end of her bed.

One of the complications of a multiple-country lifestyle is what to do with the family pet? Travel with pets has become much easier within Europe in recent years.

A dog or cat needs to have a pet passport, but to qualify for this, the only requirements are microchipping and vaccination against rabies. Both of these stipulations are needed under French law anyway.

There's no longer any need for blood tests or a six-month delay, as in the past. There are other minor requirements such as treatment for tapeworms and ticks before leaving, but these are easy to do.

Dogs tend to be good travellers, happily jumping into the car and coming along with the family. Cats -- like Zigzag -- often don't enjoy travel.

As soon as Zigzag is put into a cat carrier, he starts to wail. If he travelled to Ireland, he'd have to endure at least 12 hours of being cooped up, and he wouldn't like that.


Furthermore, he's a cat who loves to go outside, and there would be the worry that he might wander off in Ireland, going missing before the family left for France. Zigzag is a contented cat at home in Paris and there are neighbours who are happy to check in every day to feed him and make sure that he's okay.

If you asked Zigzag what he wanted to do when the family head off to Ireland, he'd definitely reply that he's much happier at home, merci.

Tara sees things differently. She loves her cat and she doesn't understand why he can't come with them. Why can't he sit on her lap in the car? And she misses him when it's time for bed in Ireland.

Tara hates to think about Zigzag on his own in Paris. There are episodes of tears on holiday whenever Zigzag's name is mentioned. But there's one positive aspect: family homecomings bring great joy.

Visit Pete's website at www.petethevet.com