We have two Maine Coon cats. Colin and Kirsty. Colin has not realized that he’s a cat yet. I think he thinks he’s a dog. he follows people around the house, keeping them company wherever they go. He doesn’t sit on our laps, but at our feet. he rarely asks to be petted, but on the occasions when he does lie beside you and let you rub his belly you feel somehow incredibly honored. He is curious about everything and has never met a stranger he didn’t like. Kirsty is the opposite–the original scaredy cat. When she is around the rule is “No sudden movements”, in fact she prefers no movement at all. She is terrified of new people, and of people she likes who rush about, but she loves to be petted. When she can get up the courage (usually when you are asleep), she will snuggle up beside you and head butt you until you wake up and pet her. She will also try to wash your hair for you, and she is good at unravelling knitting.
When we got these cats I wanted to train them to walk on a leash so that they could go outside safely. With Kirsty’s fear issues, I abandoned the idea straight away, but Colin, being afraid of nothing, seemed like a good candidate for training. He tolerates the leash well and loves to go outside, but going for walks has turned out to be a bit of a pipe dream. I used to wonder if Colin was a dog trapped in a cat’s body, but after having tried to leash train him I now know that he is undoubtedly and wholeheartedly a cat. And cats do not go for walks. They wander randomly around the garden, they chase insects, they stare at things, but they do not walk. They go where their heart leads them, and their heart rarely leads them in a straight line along the sidewalk. If Colin sees a bird he takes off without warning at a speed the leash holder cannot match, practically strangling himself in the process. He also takes an unreasonable amount of “rests” during his time outdoors. A walk with Colin goes something like this:
1. Walk from front door to first bush in the garden.
2. Sit under the bush for a while.
3. Get up and travel over to the driveway.
4. Have a nice lie down on the concrete for a while.
5. Go over to where the catnip is growing and roll on it.
6. Was that a RABBIT? Go like the blazes!
7. Complain loudly about the leash and the human at the end of the leash who scared away the rabbit.
8. Whew! that was exhausting, I need another lie down
You get the picture. I have failed miserably in my goal of exercising the cat and myself at the same time. I still take Colin out because he likes it so much, but a walk with a cat turns out to be an aimless wander around the yard for me. Its not exercise, but it is not without pleasure.
Walking with Colin reminds me of the first walks I took with my children when they were toddlers. Sometimes we only got as far as the end of the driveway. We stopped and looked at rocks, we splashed in puddles, we noticed the birds and the butterflies, we picked up roly-polies (well, the children did). As far as going for a walk was concerned we failed quite miserably–but I learned that when I take things slow I notice a lot of beautiful things that escape me when I am moving at my normal speed. The cat and the child know that, the adult forgets.
Getting back to the cat walking–Here’s another cat that “walks” like Colin.
Others have been much more sucessful–I wonder how they manage it?