How not to walk a cat

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Kym Seabolt's cat, Kai
Kym Seabolt's cat, Kai. Kym Seabolt photo.

In the lexicon of metaphors to describe things which are difficult or impossible, we need to add to “Uphill Battle.” “Biting off More than you can Chew.” “Between a Rock and a Hard Place.” “A Tough Nut to Crack” and so on. To these I now add: “Putting a harness on a cat.”

Our cat is a jerk. I am not the only one who thinks so. His nickname, said with love and some amount of fear and respect, is “King A-holey.” So coined by BoyWonder. I will leave you to sound it out. He’s not a bad cat. He’s just self-absorbed. It’s his world, we just live in it. His hobbies include vomiting indiscriminately on things for no good reason because he can, and lurking around corners and stairs waiting to take a swipe at unsuspecting dogs and human ankles. People might say that’s all cats but I disagree. Our last cat, Kandalle, was an absolute doll. More canine than aloof, Kandalle left big paws to fill when he passed after growing up with GirlWonder for 20 years.

Kai came along to fill the feline-shaped hole in our life when he was rescued as a kitten. I am sure, if asked, he would prefer to think he deigned to bless us with his presence.

Regal

First, he is beautiful. A Maine Coon mix of majestic long fur and brilliant eyes. He’s like a cat supermodel. He is now five years old. He outweighs one of our two dogs. He lives his life as an indoor cat with a full run of the house.He has full use of numerous beds of various levels of cozy softness, spacious window seats, and a private dining area. He also has some behavioral issues that led us to take him to the vet for a checkup.. A thorough exam and a litany of tests led to the obvious conclusion: he is stressed.

Stressed? This unemployed freeloader has not worked a day in his life. He is cosseted and protected. He spends his days napping in climate controlled comfort on a variety of down bedding. He dines on special prescription pet food and treats. I’m surprised he doesn’t demand appetizers and a side salad with his evening meal. His kitty litter is even delivered monthly having been selected for his royal high end.

I am deeply confused as to how any of this is stressful?

Challenge

I turned, as one does, to Google University. Meaning: I searched online. I found plenty of groups, pages, and support for “parents of stressed out house cats.” The common cause for their stress? Boredom.

Our cat, despite the occasional autumnal mouse hunt, was not being challenged enough. Since he has been an indoor cat since birth, turning him into an outside cat seems cruel. I’m not an anti-barn cat person, mind you. I think barn cats are a hardworking and necessary part of farm life. I grew up, however, with house cats. Solely indoor cats. They never seemed stressed though.

Want to know what happens when a devoted mother switches her child-rearing focus to pets? She loses her tiny little mind, that’s what happens.

This, then, is how I came to find myself looking online for enrichment activities for the cat. I was deeply enmeshed in a bidding war over a plant-shaped scratching post on an online auction before I finally came to my senses. I backed down when I realized the cat didn’t even want that scratching post. He had his eye on a fake palm tree post that was much fancier. In either case a scratching post will be a complete waste of time since he pretty much only likes to sharpen his claws on antique wood furniture, leather upholstery, and anything expensive from Pottery Barn. Clearly, it was time to challenge our cat. How hard can this be? Many people reported that their stressed out indoor cat enjoyed taking walks. On a leash. Like a dog. Sounds simple enough, right?

As near as I can recall I slipped the cute little cat-sized harness over his head and INTENDED to reach around to clip it safely under his chest. What ACTUALLY happened was that I unleashed (pun intended) some sort of feline missile. Kai went full Tasmanian Devil. I was powerless to stop him. I could never catch him. The cat lost his mind, his footing, and all semblance of sanity. He was up the wall, down the foyer table, and halfway up the stairs before I knew what hit me. A cat is what hit me by the way. He bounced off me in his haste to escape the wholly harmless harness.

Suffice to say that the cat was A) no longer bored; and B) Neither of us was interested in taking a walk.

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