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Diary of a Cat Walker #12

Today I want to talk about two related issues -- vacation and weather.

Last week I went to the Del Mar (San Diego) CFA cat show. It's the biggest cat show on the West Coast and was a LOT of fun. Since I was travelling so far for the show, I made a vacation out of it and took a few extra days. During that time, I had a cat sitter come in and take care of the basics; feeding, cleanup, and a little playtime.

But no cat walking.

If you've been following this blog, you know two things. First, I walk Gloria 5-7 days a week. Also, she's making progress and even purrs on some of her walks. While there are a couple places she likes, I try to vary it up as I want her to be comfortable wherever I take her. That goal will likely take some time, but she's definitely not as freaked out at new places as she used to be. While she may be wary and not want to walk, it's nice that I can take her virtually anywhere without a total freak-out on my hands.

So, she went 7 days without a walk.

At this stage, that's something I didn't want, but alas, it's reality. Her first walk after the trip was fair...she wasn't really happy about it, so I carried her to a spot and then let her walk from there. All-in-all, she did well considering her routine had been smashed. But there was another element at play. The weather.

I live in Northern California, so this is our rainy season. Gloria does NOT like getting wet and is careful to avoid puddles on our walks. Also, her favorite park is now covered in sharp pine needles and plant debris, so it's not as comfortable as it was before. I've seen her shake her paw after stepping on something sharp, so we spend more time on the paved paths, but even those are pretty much covered.

But what if you live in the Midwest or East Coast where the weather has been brutal? I think, in those cases, there's no way you can keep up the regular pace, but you don't have to stop all together. Here are some tips.

* Warm up the car before bringing your cat out

* Add a cat jacket or sweater to your cat walking arsenal

* Take your cat to visit friends, to your office after hours, to hardware and pet stores that allow pets on leash, and if dogs don't freak your cat out, shopping malls that allow pet walking

* On days when you don't go out, set aside some time to clicker train your cat to sit, shake hands, etc.

If you've never trained a cat, you may want to. If your cat is a treat monster, you may be surprised at how fast your cat learns. While it's fun to watch your cat perform at your command, the real reason to train your cat is that it opens up another form of communication between you and your cat. Your words, not just their tone, takes on new meaning. Suddenly, your cat appears to pay more attention to what you say and a deeper connection is created. You probably understand some of your cats utterances, which, from my experience, are different from cat to cat, even cats from the same litter. Training can be fun for you and your cat. Just make sure to make the training sessions short so you don't bore your cat or fill its stomach with too many treats!

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