Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cat Walks and Catios Part 1

Ever since the weather has improved, our two cats, particularly Ash, have suddenly "woken up" to the fact that there is a whole world outside the window, after nearly 8 months of hibernating in the house.  All of a sudden, Ash started to cry at windows and doors, clearly desperate to get more than a sniff of fresh air through the fly screen.
Feeling sorry for him, (especially when the crying at the door was getting a little tedious), I ordered a harness and lead.  (With a bit of research, I found these for a reasonable price online). 
It wasn't straightforward at first - even now with the harness on, sometimes perplexingly he seems to lose all ability to be "cat", and actually falls off things without attempting to save himself; he also walks like a robot. 
However, after a few indoor practices, we ventured outside.  That was it - the devil was unleashed, and it became my evening ritual to be shouted at as soon as I came home from work until I put his harness on (he jumped onto the cat tree in readiness) and took him outside. 
Over the next week or so, we explored the big back yard and the patio, munched tasty patches of grass, and met a couple of rabbits and a chipmunk (he didn't know what to do with himself), and even though we had a couple of initial escapes from the harness (luckily he didn't go too far), he seemed eventually to get the hang of things and liked his daily walk.
Then Cinders realised what was going on and also started to demand to join in the fun.  So I ordered her a (much smaller) harness.  I'd been wary of taking her out, as she's always very skittish and scares easily, but we gave it a go.  The first time, she lasted all of 5 minutes before she got sensory overload and just sat there amongst the birdsong, quivering...    But she too eventually got the hang of things (still walking like a robot), and didn't venture far, but seemed to enjoy this new version of freedom. 
Goodness knows what the neighbours thought of us as Hubby and I paraded slowly round the backyard, each with a cat on a lead...  (yes, I am slowly turning into my Grandmother, who used to take her cats camping with her).
Things got tricky when Hubby was away, and taking them both out together wasn't an option (have you heard of herding cats?), so I had to take them out one at a time.  Cinders did not think this was fair, and spent the entire time crying loudly  and pawing at the patio doors until it was her turn.  Then one evening she clearly got fed up with waiting, and worked out how to open the fly screen herself. 
I was in the middle of the back yard with Ash, and suddenly became aware that she had stopped crying - I looked behind me, and there she was, pottering about on the patio!  Cue much under-breath swearing, shoving a bewildered Ash back in the house, and legging it back out to the patio with cat treats to entice her back in...  She was more interested in rolling around on the concrete, so luckily was recaptured quickly. 
However, after she'd opened the cat screen twice more, I knew we had to think about something different...

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