Saturday, July 07, 2007
Training a Cat
Denny's sister Connie drove up from Cincinnati today to pick up the tart cherries we had ordered for her from Jackson's Farm Market. The fine folks at Jackson's orders them from a grower in Michigan, and they arrive already pitted and frozen in ten pound buckets, which is enough cherries for five cherry pies or ten cherry-rhubarb pies. Yum. Not having to pick and pit the cherries is a bonus--believe me, Denny and I did that for years and we don't miss it.
Anyway, as we were sitting around enjoying brats and metts cooked on the grill with fresh corn on the cob, we started discussing cats and teaching them to walk on a leash. I have been asked several times by cat owners at various campgrounds how I taught Patches to walk on a leash, so I figured it was about time to explain my method.
1. Put the harness on the cat and attach the leash or retractable leash to the harness. Open the door to your house/rig and allow the cat outside.
2. Run to catch cat after the cat realizes she has on a harness/leash contraption and she does a quick five-step backwards movement, shrugs her shoulders and gets out of the harness.
3. Put the harness and leash back on the cat, stepping quickly to the side and pulling upwards on the leash when the cat does her five-step-backward/shrug so she is unable to slip the leash. Give cat an evil grin for out-thinking her this time.
4. Stand in one place for ten minutes while the cat sits with her back to you pouting.
5. The cat is now ready to meander. Note, I did not say walk. You do not walk a cat. The cat meanders and you follow. This is the most important lesson in "walking a cat on a leash". The only way to prevent the five-step backward/shrug routine from this point on is to allow the cat to move when and where she wants to move. You will quickly learn that cats do not walk in a straight line and frequent stops to lay down and survey their kingdom are a necessary part of the cat walking routine. The ability to knit and walk at the same time would be a good option for cat owners at this point. Making personal phone calls on your cell phone is another good option for those of us who can't knit. Because you will get bored out of your mind some days when you've been gone all day and the cat wants to sniff and explore everything to punish you for leaving her alone ALL DAY LONG WITHOUT ANYONE TO PLAY WITH!
Okay, so it's not that bad once your cat gets used to the idea of being attached to you and under your control (ya see, THAT'S the part they hate!). Yesterday Patches and I startled a deer in the woods beside our creek, and I've had the opportunity to see the tiny toads she chases as well as the irridescent dragonflies, the mud-dauber wasps, various size and shapes and colors of moths that fly just out of her reach as well as observe the variety of plant life along the banks of the creek here. Because of our evening perambulations I've glimped the orange of orioles, the cool blue of jays, the scarlet flash of the cardinals set against the cool green of the leaves of walnut, ash and sycamore trees. Chickadees warn each other of our advance along the trail and lightning bugs waver at knee-height, preparing for their nightime dance of light.
I may have taught the cat to walk on a leash, but she re-taught me to see.