Friday, 1 May 2009

Feline empathy


Oh, how I wish humins could be more like cats, you know; understanding, empathetic, intuitive, kind ...

This morning after breakfast, these two were sitting, looking out of the back door, so (as you do) I asked them if they'd like to go out for a walk.

Fresh air is probably good for cats too.

They're generally reluctant and don't want to go out alone - you can open a door and they run indoors away from it, or they hide under the bed covers from an open window - so taking them out for a walk means on a lead.

Walking one cat on a lead is hard enough, as you'll know if you've ever tried it. Two is never this simple.

The problem is, if I take Balu out on his own, Kitty follows us around the windowsills and doors in the house, upset and crying for her brother.

And if I take Kitty on her own, she's nervous and afraid out there.

So, against every shred of better judgement I may ever have had, yes, I attempt to take two nervous cats out, on leads, at the same time, without a safety net or an adult present.

Provided they both want to go in the same direction at once, this should work out just fine, shouldn't it?

(Hmmm, I seem to remember the time I walked two dogs on leads and nearly had my arms torn out of their sockets at every junction as they wanted to go in opposite directions and shopkeepers calling out that all I needed now was a pair of roller-skates as the dogs took me walking, briskly and more or less wherever they liked.)

But to my absolute astonishment, with only a little tug here and a firmly placed boot up the bum there and, as long as nothing untoward happens - like someone making a faint noise anywhere within a 100 mile radius - mostly, it does work out fine with the cats and they walk around the garden, chew a bit of grass here, or sniff a flower there, in unison.

Sometimes I have to pick one up. Seldom both, thankfully.

This morning, they took me - walking with minimal zig-zagging - right across the garden to the far reaches of the farthest corner, where there's a gap in the fence: I reckon they have that sized up for a rapid escape if they ever did try to go out alone. And there, they spent quite some time nonchalantly sniffing plants and the wind and watching birdies.

They were engrossed, but I was knackered and my legs were beginning to hurt (it only requires standing in one spot for more than 1 minute), so I said to them (as you do), "Come on, can we go in now, my legs are beginning to hurt."

And truly, with no further prompting, they both headed off in unison, leading me across the grass, along the path around the house to arrive at the back door and sat, waiting to be let in. I had to go apace to keep up.

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