About nine years ago, my son and I moved from Florida to Texas, a move of over 1100 miles. We took one small adult dog with us – a Shi-Tzu - and one kitten. Although our dog was used to running around our fenced acre property, she had also been trained to walk through the neighborhood on a leash.
I was worried about traveling with the kitten, though. He was probably about six months old, and had just recently learned to climb trees and liked to walk on the roof of our mobile home. He was not going to be happy traveling in a car for three days, and he certainly was not going to be thrilled about being kept on a leash when we stopped for pet and people potty stops.
He liked me, though, as I was the one who introduced him to climbing trees and rooftops. I spent only three days teaching him that walking on a leash was not totally unpleasant.
Recently, I had another opportunity to teach a cat that walking on a leash was not such a horrible thing. My husband’s father moved from a large house to a condominium. The house sat on about an acre property, situated on a quiet cul-de-sac. When he moved, my father-in-law asked us to take his cat.
The cat had been an indoor/outdoor cat, but when she came to live with us that changed. We lived on a cul-de-sac also, but traffic here was much busier and faster. Ours was not a quiet neighborhood, and we feared allowing the cat to roam, especially since it was also new to her.
She soon let it be known that she was not content with just sitting in the window and watching the birds and squirrels and kids without having a chance to visit them. And so we began teaching her about walking on a leash.
This cat had never even worn a collar, so that was our first challenge. In fact, she ate the first collar we purchased for her. We soon learned to keep the collar attached to the leash and to remove both when she came indoors.
The first day, our cat tolerated the leash for a total of three minutes. The second day, she wore the collar and leash for about fifteen minutes, but even gentle tugging to show her that we could walk with the leash attached made her roll on the floor. Gradually over about a week, we increased the amount of time the leash was on and actually got her to walk on the floor.
Eventually, we started walking outside. The first attempt was much like our first attempt indoors. Our cat merely rolled on the grass. The next day, she allowed herself to be walked for about five minutes. For about a week, we increased the amount of time we walked outside on the leash.
Today, it has been about six months since we introduced the idea of walking on a leash. Now, our cat will actually ask to have the leash on. She will sit in the window and meow a very special meow. Or she will jump on top of the piano, where we keep the leash, and meow as she nudges the leash with her nose. As soon as the leash is attached, she now runs for the door. She hardly even notices the strange stares of neighbors as she walks in our yard and on the sidewalk.
Now…if she would only remember that the world used to be her sandbox, we’ll be in great shape.
Marilyn Mackenzie has been writing about home, family, faith and nature for over 40 years. This article has been submitted in affiliation with http://www.PetLovers.Com/ which is a site for Pet Forums .