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Diary of a Cat Walker #17

I haven't updated this blog in a number of weeks but that doesn't mean that nothing has happened. In fact, I'll need to update you on a walk where we encountered an indignant chicken, multiple adventures with lizards, greater desire to explore,

and the first walk after a week of unseasonable rains. But not quite yet. Today I want to talk about something curious and understandable. Stranger Danger.

Gloria has gotten much better when it comes to encountering people on our walk. Initially, if she saw someone 20 feet away, she wouldn't walk in that direction. She would put on the breaks and flatten herself to the ground. A few months later and her discomfort has lessened. Every once in a while she'll walk past a seated or immobile person with barely a glance. 20-feet has turned to 10 feet, and she only appears frightened if the person is walking directly toward her. Since a lot of people -- cat people predominantly -- are amused by her and stop to talk, I noticed something curious. Once the person is in our space and they've stopped walking, the fear Gloria feels vanishes. Completely. She even allows them to pet her and will even respond to an outstretched hand. Yesterday a woman, her mother, and her two kids approached us. The kids were about 4 and maybe 8. They walked up to us and began a conversation. At the time, Gloria was rolling in the sand near the swings -- blissing out as the sand covered her body and got under her harness. The family surrounded us and began to chat. The kids were incredibly well-behaved and asked if they could pet Gloria. And then, get this, both offered a balled up hand, to let her sniff them first! Talk about good parenting. Anyway, Gloria hasn't really been around kids -- almost never -- but she was totally okay with these two and though she was more interested in walking around than socializing, she let them pet her multiple times.

I've noticed this a few times now...once the strangers stop to talk, Gloria's fear vanishes almost instantly. I don't think Gloria will ever completely get over her "stranger danger" completely, but you never know. The reality is, I don't care. She's an awesome cat and the fact that she accepts people once she realizes they're not coming after her is fantastic. That's enough for me, and while it would be great if she never felt wary, well, she wouldn't be a cat (okay, there are exceptions out there). There's no end-point when it comes to training a cat to walk on leash. Like meditation, it's more of a practice than a destination, so whether she gets over stranger danger is an unknown I can live with. Walking a cat is a ongoing joy. Enjoy the journey.

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