Walking the Cat


Houston, we have a problem,

Clive Bond, the family cat with the cravat and attitude, is well used to the cat flap. To say he and it are friends would be overstating the situation. He flies through it hastily, so it can not hit him on his furry behind.

And then he sits in his small empire, the back garden and the forest beyond, and stills his beating heart, and looks about him for voles.

He adores his empire. It is all that a cat could wish for: dark hidey-holes, crevices and climbing trees, swaying grass and teasing flies.

Of late, though, he has begun to show a propensity to travel further.

Mac and I hitched up the lead and headed off, down the drive, up the path to the gate to the forest. It is a little like that gate in Peter and the Wolf, the one Grandfather forbids Peter to go beyond. And with good reason. Here, there are not ferocious wolves, but the route that used to form a favourite hunting trail for kings and queens through the forest is now a very main single carriageway road.

Mac knows it of old. He doesn’t like it – none of us do – but it’s how we get to the rest of the forest, uninterrupted acres of woodland stretching out without fence or boundary. Β We treat the road with respect, and once it’s behind us we kick the dust off our feet and head onwards and upwards.

But this morning we got to the gate, and like Cato from an unexpected quarter, Clive Bond bounded out with a routine which I would swear included karate. Eyes like blowlamps, as one of my favourite poets would say. If I didn’t know better I would have concluded he had been indulging in a little experimental LSD.

But no; he was high on life. On the intoxicating plans he had for the day. Which included hijacking the dog, and then accompanying him wherever he was going.

If Clive was on hallucinogenics, then Β I was the Kitty Police.

NO! I admonished him; and then did a swift mental survey of the effectiveness of the other NOs I have administered in this cat’s short life. The way to Hell is paved with NOs. Clive treats them like kitty litter. He meows in the face of my NO.

But if I put him into the house he would go all cyclical. He wouldΒ hurtle through the house, apprehend the cat flap, negotiate it and be back out by the gate in the time it took to lead the dog to the gate.

What to do?

Reader, I bagpiped him.

Bagpiping a cat is simple, especially if he is a cat of very little brain. One picks him up and sandwiches him firmly under the arm so that if he were an old Scottish bag and featured protruding pipes, one could play him at the same time.

But he didnn’t like it. Not because he was not comfortable, but because he wanted out. Yeah, baby. He had seen the Big Bad World through the gate and he wanted him a piece of it.

I popped him in the porch, a sealed unit where the wellies live, to await our return.

He was the closest to displeased I have seen him.

But now, every morning one must confine a crazed cat before stepping out further. And now I fear the only way is to entertain the notion of a lead. A cat on the lead: a sure way to get branded a nutjob by your neighbours.


63 thoughts on “Walking the Cat

  1. I won’t hear a word against Clive Bond – he’s just perfect! A lead is a perfect idea – a shoulder harness lead, and couple him with Macaulay and all will be fantastic in your world! Toot toot the neighbours πŸ™‚

  2. I have occasionally seen cats on leashes in my neighborhood, the Upper West Side. In fact, somewhere in my archive of over 14,000 Lame Adventures photographs, I might even have a picture of one, but it’s 1:15 a.m. here in NYC and I’m not about to do that search. You are right, the guy I’ve seen with a leashed cat is one I do think of as a nutjob. Clive Bond sent me a message for you: “Don’t do it!”

    1. I have yet to experiment. The New York Times link has a brilliant article about a lady from your neck of the woods who worked on cat-training and won. I am learning it by heart, but I shall not be sharing my findings with Clive just yet.

      1. I clicked on the hyperlink to that story and wondered how I could have possibly missed it when they published. I was on vacation in California. Do you really think a free spirit like Clive has the temperament to be on a leash? He sounds like a cat with cat pride to me. Plus you know that Mac will be laughing his doggie ass off at him.

  3. You do have a dilemma on your hands, Kate. He’s had a taste of freedom and I am pretty certain he’s already figuring his next moves! I don’t imagine a traditional lead is going to work–you don’t want to be branded THAT woman, but perhaps you could find a way to give him a very loooooong lead that attaches to a stake in the yard. It keeps dogs from wandering off. Either that, or perhaps you can sneak out of the house and hope he doesn’t notice! Poor Clive. It’s for his own good! All good parents are a form of police–not the fun part of parenting!

    1. It’s not a good idea to stake out a cat like that . . . they refuse to listen to reason and are apt to strangle themselves.

      Taking cats outside on a leash is different than “walking the dog” but it can be done . . . and Tigger LOVES his outings.

    2. THAT woman…I love it, Debra. Opinion today seems divided on whether Clive would submit to such an indignity as a lead. The link in today’s post is from a New York Times journalist who actually trained her cat. Verrrrrry slooooooooowly indeed.

  4. Bagpiped! ROFL! Perfect description of something I’ve done myself on occasion. As for the lead/leash, I once bought one for my cat. We got as far as sitting on the porch for a few minutes (he’s an indoor cat) enjoying the view together. I was far too self-conscious about the whole thing to go farther. And too cautious. I had visions of being charged by a dog and either being climbed by a scared cat or having to pick one up.

    1. Your fears are not unfounded. Tigger loves meeting most dogs while out and about, and most dogs are too confounded by the sight of a cat on a leash to do much more than stare, but once startled a cat becomes a WILD thing . . . with claws that scratch and teeth that bite.

      That’s why Clan McIntosh has as its motto, “Touch not a cat bod a glove.” :mrgreen:

  5. You can’t keep a good cat down or in or restrained, or anything. Cats will do what a cat has to do….That is how my Stumpy lost his leg..went awandering and got caught in an illegal trap…so now he has only three legs but … by gosh! he can’t ‘afr move. He has battled with the cats next door and won, he has chased our other two cats around the garden ,and won..Nothing stops him…so I just gave up! I am only here to feed, water and stroke. I have no other authority whatsoever, oh and to let him have his daily sleep on my bed when he has been on the tiles all night….

    1. I think your philosophy is perfect, Miss W. Sounds like a great philosophy. I shall just have to move to a place in the middle of nowhere, without a large main road in between…

  6. I know of people who walk their cat on a lead very successfully. All attempts that I have made with any of the legion of cats whose company we have shared were disastrous. I’m not sure Clive sounds like a cat who would really suit the constraints of a lead:)

    1. Tigger is the feistiest cat we know . . . the vet has to have a tech (or two) hold him with leather gloves in order to complete an exam . . . but we trained him on a leash at a very young age. So it’s never a struggle.

      BFF just shakes the leash and Tigger comes running. Unless he doesn’t feel like it. He operates on HIS timetable, not ours. πŸ˜›

  7. How unfair to relegate Clive to the porch while Mac & you are out exploring the delights of the big bad world! The leash sounds like a good option, if it works πŸ˜€

    1. Yes, the porch is a temporary measure, Madhu. The moment we hav esun, it will not do at all. Time to find something more permanent as a matter of urgency!

  8. The answer is a lead and a brown paper bag. Make a couple of holes in the paper bag and wear it on your head as you walk him. No-one will know it’s you – but you will hear tales of the mad woman that walks a cat

    There’s probably a story in there somewhere….

  9. Bagpiped! I think this is one of the “holds” we put on Ezra this week, who was actively exploring the environs. I’m going to borrow that term Kate, for it is so purr-fect.
    Now, about that lead . . .

  10. I don’t think you will have luck with the lead. There are cat carriages (yep, no giggling please) where the cat can see out but is safely zipped in. Not sure if he would like that either.

    1. We trained our first two cats when they were about 6 months of age. They learned that if they wanted to go out, they had to wear a leash.

      Clive’s situation is different. He’s been allowed out in the garden. On his own. With no lead. So you may be right. It might be too late.

  11. It’s occurred to me that all cat owners are probably nutjobs. That walking jacket is really neat, but I hope you’ll wear protective clothing when you put one on Clive, the first time at least.

  12. We have walked all 3 of our cats on leads . . . although that terminology is rather backwards.

    Our cats have walked US on leads. They lead. We follow. They decide whether and where and when to go out. We obey.

    We trained Jazz and Cayenne to go out on a leash because we lived on a very busy road and did NOT want to come home to squashed kitty. By the time we got Tigger we were used to the stares and snickers and pointed fingers. :mrgreen:

    A few tips:

    1. Train them when they are young. You might be able to teach old dogs new tricks but old cats are far to smart to fall for any new fangled or tangled invention.

    2. Be prepared to hear your Indonesian neighbor sing out in broken English, “Cat on leash! Very funny.”

    3. Don’t expect walking a cat to be anything like walking a dog. Cats do not walk for aerobic exercise. They walk to stalk prey. If they want aerobic exercise, they bounce off the walls while inside . . . preferably onto your head . . . while you are sleeping.

    1. I apologize for hi-jacking your post, Kate. I got so caught up in the subject matter that I forgot this was your blog, not mine. πŸ˜›

      1. No apology necessary, Nancy. Mia Casa and all that. Just wonderful to have such a lively debate; and on such a vital issue as walking a cat on a lead πŸ˜€

  13. Another Cato! Could he be a distant relation of MasterB http://isobelandcat.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/punching-above-his-weight/?
    My grandparents’ cat always followed me when I took their dog for a walk in Guildford. She would stroll around the Castle Grounds with us, attracting a great deal of attention, and crossed the busy road beside us. She did not like to walk along Quarry Street to Racks Close though, so once we reached that point, she would sit down by Castle Arch and yowl (she was half Siamese and very loud) until we got back.
    If Bond persists, you may have to resort to a harness like the one MasterB has to wear for shore leave at das Boot. I can give you the contact details if you want.

    1. I just lovethat, Isobel, especially the yowlng when you were deemed to have gone too far away for the cat to follow! I know those gardens well. I shall never walk them again without thinking of your grandparents’ cat…

  14. Failed to get to a pub for food yesterday because of the cat. He loves to go for a walk with us (not on a lead, he hates it) and if the roads aren’t too big he’s been known to join us in a beer garden. The roads round Hampton Court are a little busy though, so we strolled the riverside and when it became obvious he wasn’t going to be shaken off, nibbles at home for tea it was.

    1. Hi Cat – your cat has taste at least. A stroll by the river near Hampton Court sounds a decent diversion. I love the thought of looking down in the beer garden to see the cat waiting for a pint. What a character.

  15. I have heard that in parts of France, cats with their human guardians in public places are not unusual. I have had a few cats who naturally wanted to go on long walks with me, on quiet suburban evenings or in the country, and they were well able to look after themselves. I have never tried a lead. Their system of progression was usually in quick dashes, ahead or from behind, although one Siamese did trot to heel like any dog. That one was on the lookout for any dogs – with ambitions to chase them! Which he did, periodically. Amazing what one can get away with, in that direction. Owners seem reluctant to complain about poor little Brutus being terrorised by a cat!

    1. Ha! Macaulay treats us to the most injured looks when persecuted by Clive. A you say, it’s not done to admit that he has come off the worse again πŸ˜€

  16. bwhahahahahaha bagpipe cats πŸ˜€ I can just see that image – this is why I don’t have a cat – I would have so much cat induced anxiety that I could not cope

  17. How about a bolt on the catflap Kate?… But, I fear that having seen the road and the wild spaces beyond, Mr. Bond will need to go villain hunting – with or without you!

    Having heard some heathens confusing the wonderful sound of the pipes with the wailing of distressed cats, I suspect that your bag allusion may serve to further harm Anglo-Scotish relations πŸ˜‰

  18. I say go for it. Clive might enjoy the walkies even if he is on a lead. I did try it once with one of my cats when we went camping. Kate, I will only say it … and the reaction of those who saw us … was interesting. πŸ™‚

  19. I have been laughing at this post for days πŸ™‚ When Jake and I are having our morning potter, we see lots of cats roaming about and I have fun wondering about them on leads, and being bagpiped!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s