It’s not uncommon for truck drivers to have a host of accessories in their rigs. After all, there are thousands of products available to decorate and personalize the cabs.
Todd Ramey has done this for his truck — but not with custom shifters or seat covers.
Instead, he added a litter box and cat toys.
Ramey’s two co-pilots — Joe Perry and Steven Tyler, named after the lead guitarist and lead singer of his favorite band, Aerosmith — are striking orange striped cats that have been on the road with him for the past three years.
Ramey said he tried to train his furry buddies to wear harnesses and leashes, but it didn’t exactly go smoothly. Perry is gentle, but Tyler is “a little high strung,” Ramey said, laughing. So, for now, the two “road rockers” are free to roam the cabin, as long as it’s a safe environment.
Ramey said his company even let him remove the passenger seat so there would be more room for the cats, their litter box and accessories.
Ramey speaks of his four-legged companions as members of his family, even though they love to create mischief. And they DO create mischief.
A photo shared by Ramey shows the two looking innocently at the camera while lying on a bed amid what was once a roll of paper towels — before the felines gleefully shredded it to bits.
While on the road, however, the cats are pretty well-behaved, Ramey said, adding that they help get his day started.
“They sit in the corner, on the dash by the windshield,” he said. “That’s their corner. They enjoy the ride.”
Ramey found Perry and Tyler at a cat rescue in Nevada around three years ago. Perry had been rescued from a garbage bin and was in pretty rough shape before a mama cat at the shelter adopted him.
“Right after he was born, someone just threw him away,” Ramey said. “Someone heard the faint meowing from the trash can and rescued him to the shelter. Around that same time, a cat at the shelter had kittens, and the mother adopted him as one of her own.”
Ramey said he had planned to adopt just one cat when he went to the shelter, but he was talked into taking Perry and Tyler as a pair.
Turns out, it was a perfect match.
“They said, ‘They need a buddy, so they won’t be lonely,’” Ramey said, chuckling. “So, I got both of them.”
Ramey said one of the biggest challenges for pet owners on the road can be finding adequate veterinary care. Many clinics are not 18-wheeler friendly, so parking at a truck stop and taking a rideshare is the only option in many cases.
“I’ve been lucky so far in that I haven’t had that challenge,” Ramey said. “But it can be difficult.”
Ramey said one of the best things about having pets on board is just having someone to talk to. Perry and Tyler have heard Ramey’s stories and troubles, but they never judge or talk back, he said. Instead, their reaction is a gentle meow or a soft purr at the touch of their “daddy’s” hand.
“It’s really great having them,” Ramey said. “I think every driver should have a pet on board.”
Right now, Ramey, 58, is sidelined from trucking because of a medical issue. He lives in eastern Nevada with his wife. When he’s better, he said, he wants to go to work for one of the mines near his home and drive a dump truck.
Ramey has been in trucking since 2004, and driving is in his blood. He remembers riding along with his dad on a soda truck route, and he said he has cousins who have also been in the industry.
“I also used to ride along with Dad when he hauled potatoes from the fields,” Ramey said. “It’s something I’ve always enjoyed.”
As for carrying pets along for the ride, Ramey said he has a message for his fellow truckers.
“If you are going to get a pet, go to a pet rescue. Puppy mills just breed problems,” he said. “If you do have a pet on board, make sure they get microchipped and spayed and neutered.”
Ramey didn’t say whether or not Tyler and Perry would join him in his new venture. That, of course, will be up to the company.
Either way, the feline rockers will be happy. There are still plenty of fresh paper towel rolls to be shredded at home.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.