CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Caturday Curiosities ...

Well, I've made a(nother) rod for my own back! (Anyone surprised?) :-)

Because the two cats (aged 7) I've brought from Tenerife have never moved house before and, because they're really quite timid former ferals, I've been giving them "familiarization walks" in the garden on a harness and lead. This should allow them to get to know the place slowly and in relative safety and, hopefully make them less liable to bolt (in the wrong direction), when they encounter unfamiliar (and here, everything is) sights, smells and sounds.

"The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an ax-murderer." - Paula Poundstone

Compared to their natural habitat: a ridge well away from a main road, in the middle of a rural valley, with no neighbours, there's a lot to startle cats here.

There's traffic noise and human noise - we're surrounded by houses and this is hover mower country - and then there's the constant screaming of seagulls overhead, as well as neighbour dogs, garden birds and new weird animals.

It seems like the natural thing to do too: after all, their "mother" was a dog.

Well, I say "them", but in reality, I've only taken Kitty out a couple times because she is clearly not keen. She was trembling and just wanted to dart off, so, in the meantime, we'll concentrate on Balu, who is Lovin' It(™) and, with luck, once he's comfortable with it, his confidence might rub off on his sister.

As the nice lady says in How to Walk a Cat on a Leash, it's easier to start when they're young. Thirty years ago, I did just that with my old cat, Tom, which proved to be a great boon over the years, because I could literally take him anywhere, like a dog. I would have done it again when Balu was small, but I couldn't find a suitable harness in Tenerife and anyway, he was then one of triplets and then I had three other cats too. I couldn't walk them all.

Could have tried harnessing them all up in a team, except ...

"Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow." - Jeff Valdez

Nor six or seven of them, as there were on occasion, I suppose. :)

Anyway, for the first few days, Balu's performance on the lead (no photos, yet: one of us should be allowed to retain some dignity) was pretty much like the cat in the above video. He looked about as happy with the idea as this fluffball. As in all things, purrsistence (sic) pays and he now has me trained.

The curious thing is, he had been an indoor cat for a year or more in Tenerife, but more and larger windows, including patio doors (that are just like widescreen HD TV for cats) opening out onto the part of the garden where there's a bevy of birds and a surfeit of squirrels, must be tempting him outside. Hence, we've had some right tantrums and, trying everything; food, drink, litter tray cleaning, cuddles, et al, I found a short outing into the fresh air was sufficient to placate him and, ever since he's been insisting on it daily.

Morning routine has now been set by his Royal Fluffiness; ablutions, breakfast (his: mine comes later), walk in garden, coffee. In that order. By command.

Yes, the coffee is for me and I'd LIKE to have it first, before going out, but the whining kinda takes the edge off enjoying it. Balu is such a beautiful cat, until he opens his big fat gob. He has the most grating, screeching, whining and annoying meow I ever heard, which tends to encourage me to do something (anything) to shut him up, in the shortest time possible.

So, we've been going out promptly each morning and, you know how quickly they become creatures of habit. Yesterday, as soon as he'd eaten, he began moaning, came to where the lead is kept, stood there while I put his harness on, then led me to the back door. This morning, he "cut out the middle man" and just waited by the back door, letting me bring the harness to him.

He's not bloody stupid, is he? :)

Today finally, he walked, leading me, right round the perimeter of the garden. He didn't flinch at the noises going on in the pigeon shed next door (it sounded to me like they were shagging), nor was he purrturbed (sic) by the robin sitting on an archway, shouting and swearing (s/he has babies in the holly bank.)

Next week, watch us stroll down the local main street (not!)

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