There is so much in the news I have been wanting to write about, then I found this article in USA Today. Apparently the trend among the weird people is to walk their cats. Outside, on leashes, like dogs. The advocates say that cats need outdoor-action and this is a safe way. The haters say you can’t control the environment and there is nothing worse that a wigged out cat.
Here’s my take:
They are all correct.
Spooky the Cat came to live in my house at age 8 1/2. From his kittenhood he was allowed to come and go as he pleased, but my mother and I knew we would not be able to take worrying about a cat that went prowling (or whatever they do) all night. So he became an indoor cat.
For a few years, he made regular jail breaks. The back door was always opening and closing with dogs coming and going, and all it took was good timing. Which he has. Then one day, we got him a leash and took him in the back yard. He was pretty pissy about it at first, and he pointedly ignores me when we are outside together, but he understands:
If he wants to go outside, this is how it is done.
The jail breaks diminished. Significantly.
I don’t really “walk” him in the back yard. He walks me. And finds some plot of dirt to roll around and kick up dust. Eventually, I will find a spot to sit down and read, and he will, too. It makes him happy.
Once in a while, Shadow the Dog will get all excited that Spooky is in the backyard. He will run in circles and play dance. (This is how I know the dog is demented. He thinks Mr. Cranky Cat is going to play with him? Outside? For real?) And sometimes, he gets too close and Spooky will freak out, which involves hissing and scratching and forgetting that I am the person and Shadow is the Dog that’s bothering him. And omigod, when we had two. I remember locking the dogs in the house to minimize the drama of Spooky’s outside time and they would not. Stop. Barking.
Anyway, I can’t imagine what would happen if a stranger dog came to sniff him. (Wait. Yes I do. Because a strange Rottweiler tried to meet Spooky in the waiting room of the vet’s office. Spooky flat out attacked.) For one thing, the leash makes him feel somewhat vulnerable, in that it makes him unable to bolt from perceived danger. Since I can’t quite tell what he will perceive as “danger”, I am not really able to control the environment enough so that he doesn’t freak out.
So I only Walk the Cat in the safety of my own backyard. And the neighbors still look at me funny.
P.S. Walking this cat would be of no practical use, anyway. He is incapable of doing his business with anyone looking at him.