A couple of weeks ago when our cat, Frodo, wasn’t sitting by the front door when it was time for his supper, I asked my daughter, Ellen, to check the garage to see if he had slipped in there unnoticed.

Sure enough, Ellen found him in the garage — peering out the back window of my car. Frodo had sneaked in the front door of my Honda when I was unpacking groceries from the back. He appeared perturbed about spending several hours in the vehicle, and when Ellen opened the door, he hopped out and marched haughtily up to the house to get his food.

I was surprised that Frodo willingly got out of the car and was upset that he spent time inside of it. A cat that thinks he’s a human, Frodo loves riding in vehicles. He must have been upset that he hadn’t gotten to take a road trip.

If we’re going on the short 9-mile round trip from our farm to the nearby town of Larimore, North Dakota, my family members and I sometimes let him ride with us, and wide-eyed, he watches the scenery go by as we drive from his perch on the console or front passenger seat. When we are driving longer distances, we give him a ride to the house where he grudgingly jumps out onto the sidewalk and looks at us disdainfully as we leave.

Once Frodo did get his wish for a long ride in a vehicle, but I don’t think he enjoyed it as much as he had anticipated. I was at a track meet a few years ago when I got a call from the guy who was installing our kitchen backsplash inquiring if we were missing a cat. I told him I didn’t think so, but asked him what the cat looked like. He said it was a gray tabby cat and explained that he had left our house to get some more materials in Grand Forks, about 30 miles from our house, when he looked in the rear view mirror while stopped at a red light and saw a cat looking at him.

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Sure enough, Frodo had hitched a ride to Grand Forks. After I confirmed that Frodo was ours, the backsplash installer kindly brought him inside the pickup, where he rode with him for errands and then back home to the farm.

I can’t recall exactly when Frodo, now 9, started lobbying for car rides, but I think he was pretty young. Ellen, my husband Brian, our sons, Brendan and Thomas, and I have been Frodo’s pseudo mom since he was a couple of weeks old . Ellen and I found Frodo and his sister in the grove of trees across the road from our house in September 2012, meowing plaintively. We left them for a couple of days to make sure their mother wasn’t returning, then when were certain she wasn't coming back, brought them to the house and began feeding them kitten formula with a tiny bottle designed for cats.

Frodo has a watchful eye on the Baley-Gregoire kitchen from a seat at the kitchen table. 
Ann Bailey / Agweek
Frodo has a watchful eye on the Baley-Gregoire kitchen from a seat at the kitchen table. Ann Bailey / Agweek

Frodo and Sam — both were named after Lord of the Rings characters — at first were so weak that we weren’t sure we could save them, but we persevered in teaching them to nurse from the bottle, and within a week they were thriving and burrowing into our beds at night so they could bite our toes. We already had two older cats, so when the two young ones were a couple of months old, we gave Sam to a friend of ours. Ellen lobbied Brian and I to keep Frodo, so he joined Smokey and Jessie, making our feline duo a trio.

Frodo, however, has no use for other cats, and instead much prefers the company of humans. The affection Frodo has for us is mutual. He’s a cat with a big personality that has maneuvered its way into our hearts.