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Diary of a Cat Walker, #28

Be careful what you wish for...

The last two weekends I worked cat shows in Northern California. I talked to dozens of people each day about the benefits of walking cats on leash. I shared a lot of information, opened some eyes, and convinced a few people that this was something they should do. In the process, I sold a few copies of my book.

Gloria hanging out at Tomatina's restaurant with Greg Brandenburgh

It required a lot of time and I had to leave quite early and return fairly late each day. There was no time to give Gloria her weekend walks. I felt a pang of guilt, because I feel a responsibility to enrich her life on a daily basis.

You see, the world has changed for her. In the ten months or so of walking her, walking has been something that she feared (but found exciting) to something she expects. The house no longer provides enough stimulus (if it ever really did) despite the fact that she has other cats to play with, a dog she lords over, and a catio with shelves, pillows, plants, and a clear view of the back yard.

It's no longer enough...and why should I expect it to be? I took her down this path intending to broaden her horizons, give her exercise, and explore the world with her. I wanted to give her the opportunity to chase bugs and explore tree stumps and climb craggy rocks. I wanted to take her for rides and stop at outdoor cafes. I wanted to make her feel safe with me, wherever we went.

All these things have happened, or are well on their way. The joy it's brought her makes me smile. A lot.

So now, Gloria wants her walk. Every day. And she lets you know it, loud and clear. So on Sunday, while I was working the show, Greg Brandenburgh sent me a photo of Gloria at a neighborhood restaurant. When I arrived home and asked him about it, he said, "She wanted to go out so bad that she was following me everywhere around the house, meowing."


It got me thinking about the correlation between dog walking and cat walking once again. One of the "perceived" benefits of cat ownership -- for some people -- is that you don't need to walk them. I think that people who do embark on this journey probably think that they'll be able to walk their cats when they want to, when they have time. They won't need to make time to do this daily. And for a while, that was the case. But the world can be intoxicating once your cat has had it's fears tamped down and goes on regular and exhilarating walks. This becomes the new norm for them, not a treat to be doled out at the companion's whim.

Now I have to walk her. This doesn't negate the fact that I enjoy walking her, because I do, but it puts a little more responsibility on the relationship that's more dog-like than cat-like. While I wouldn't change it for anything, it's a surprising revelation and a reminder that while dog walking and cat walking are very different, there are some definite overlaps.

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