loves to go outside and with the wonderful weather weve been having lately,
shes even more excited about getting out. Unfortunately for her, the only
time she gets to go out is when her human mom or dad is willing to go with her.
Luckily for her, I have spring fever almost as bad as hers. Outings to walk the
cat are becoming a regular thing.
the other day I was walking Shira (or she was walking me) a couple blocks away
from our house. A neighbor pulling
up to her driveway stopped in the middle of the street to say, Now thats
amazing! That is a common reaction when people see us out with a cat on a
leash. It just hasnt dawned them that cats can be trained to walk on leash.
notice the above statement doesnt include the words just like a dog.
Nope, cats dont go for walks just like a dog. When we walk our dog (Colter,
the crazy dog) and he gets out of hand, we just give a good, hard tug on the
leash and he gets the message that trotting along beside us wherever we want to
go is the more pleasant alternative to whatever he was doing. Give Shira a hard
tug on her leash and shell plop right down on the sidewalk and refuse to
move. Continue to try to coerce her
to do something she doesnt want to do and shell kick and wiggle until
shes free from the leash. Then shes in charge of the walk. Or the run, as
that is what youll be doing as you pursue her down the street and across the
how did I convince my stubborn, independent cat to strut down the sidewalk on a
leash looking for all the world as if she is having the time of her life? It
started with persistence hers and mine. She kept trying to escape out the
door. Id capture her and bring her back exclaiming, You cant go out
alone! Get back in here! Well put on your harness and leash and go for a
get the harness out and, despite Shiras twisting and turning, put it on her.
Then Id pick up the leash and walk to the front door. Shira, seeing another
opportunity to escape, would forget about the hated contraption she was wearing
and race to the door. Id clip on the leash, open the door, and shed race
out. To the end of her leash and an abrupt halt. A couple times she wiggled out
of the harness and promptly ended up back inside the house, learning that the
harness was a necessary part of outdoor adventures. After a couple times, Shira
figured out that staying reasonably close to me kept the harness from pulling on
so she mostly behaved. Still, there were things that were just too intriguing.
She was terribly tempted to explore underneath the cars parked along the curb.
The storm drain at the end of the block was just begging to be checked out.
Fireplugs, shrubs, flower beds, fences, the next door neighbors garage
wonderful sights and smells all calling to her. Some of these things were
acceptable. Some were not. And when my intrepid explorer decided to examine
something like the underneath side of a parked car, her leash would get very
short and very tight. Being an intelligent cat, she quickly learned that she
couldnt do that.
other challenge of walking a cat is when her attention is caught by something
that is not especially threatening. Its okay if Shira plays with a leaf that
just flew onto the sidewalk. However, I get a little bored with watching her
play with the leaf for 5 minutes. Same with nibbling on grass (Shira not
me!) And so I encourage her to move along by calling her. If that doesnt
work, I pick her up. Immediately she thinks, Uh oh, Im going back in the
house if I dont do what mom wants. I put her back on the ground and off we
go. These days we sometimes make it an entire block without me interfering with
let Shira chose our path most days. Want to go south to the end of the block and
around the corner? Okay, well go there today. North and across the street to
the next block? Thats fine. Down to taunt the dogs in the yard at the corner?
Well, maybe thats not a good idea, but if you insist
Yes, she walks me as
much as I walk her.
that weve been taking walks often, Shira is much better about holding still
to have the harness put on. I can almost always get the part around her neck
buckled before the wiggles set in. As soon as Im done hooking the harness and
put her down, she runs to the front door and waits for me. Even if I walk into
the back hall to get my jacket or to the kitchen to get a bottle of water,
shell wait right by the door.
She knows. The leash and harness mean an adventure.
© 2002 lisa s vasa
(Please note that you will see a number of photos of our cats and kittens that I've taken outside in a natural setting. The LostWoods cats do NOT go outside unsupervised! When we do go outside for pictures and occasional adventures, there is always one person and usually two watching them closely. We do have an outside, fully enclosed run to which the older cats are allowed access, but even then we check on them often.)
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