When I was living near New York City during college, I’d go to Central Park on nice weekends and walk the trails. I saw plenty of people walking dogs, but the first time I saw a guy walking his cat, I was amazed. A cat on a leash?
Fast-forward a couple of years. I’d moved back to the Lodi area and had a new kitten, Sparrow, who was a handful. She may have been the size of my hand, but she lived up to the calico reputation from the start. She was always getting into trouble and trying to get outside. She didn’t want to go far — most of the time, she was content to hang out in the enclosed outdoor patio space attached to my apartment.
But I remembered the cat-walkers in the city, and figured if she took to a leash, it would be a safer way for her to get some fresh air.
The first time I put a harness on her, Sparrow panicked. I couldn’t catch her to take it off, so she ran around the apartment for several minutes until she flopped, exhausted, onto the floor in front of the door. I didn’t want her experience with the harness to be awful, though, so once she was calm I snapped the leash on and carried her outside.
Luckily, that was all it took. She was more than happy to chase bugs around in the grass outside of my apartment building, even if it meant wearing the harness. The second time the leash went on, she was perfectly calm, and within a couple of weeks she was pulling it out of its basket and dragging it to the front door whenever she wanted to go out.
Not every cat is as easy to train to a leash — my other cat won’t move at all when she’s wearing a harness, not even a few inches to her food dish. After months of that, I gave up on her.
And to be fair, I don’t walk Sparrow. She pulls me where she wants to go, and if we do happen to walk the same direction for a block or so, it’s only because she wanted to go that way anyway. But it’s a great way to get her out of my small apartment for some sunshine and exercise.
Contact news editor Kyla Cathey at firstname.lastname@example.org.