Guest Post: Have Leash, Won’t Travel

imageBy Kelly E. Connolly, Esq., M.S.

I don’t know about you all over there in the United Kingdom, but here in America everyone tries to “Keep up with the Joneses.” You hear your best friend buys the lastest HD TV? Then you must too! Neighbor driving a new car? Hmm, better run on over to your dealer at once. Neighborhood busybody bragging about walking her cat on a leash again? Well then, you must train your own cat to do the same!

I am the first to admit that, sadly, I sometimes buy into this hype. And herein lies my current dilemma.

funny-Nope-cat-leashPhoto Credit: The Meta Picture

My elderly kitty, Paddington (named after your lovely British bear), has a lovely life. I rescued him as an older cat with a terrible upper respiratory infection. I nursed him back to health and gave him all the love that he missed as a kitten. I bring him for regular veterinary checkups, let him sleep on my bed, and even cook him human food. Surely any cat in his position would shower me with obedience and loyalty in return for this level of care, right?

Well, maybe not so much.

Since Paddington lives mainly indoors, I would only allow him to explore the outside neighborhood if he were on a leash. I’d heard many stories about cats successfully trained to walk on leashes, and figured it wouldn’t be that difficult to train Paddington to do the same. After all, I’d just read about a cat named Honey Bee who hiked actual MOUNTAINS while on a leash-and she’s completely BLIND! I thought to myself Really, how difficult would it actually be to train Paddington to walk on a leash, if even a blind cat can manage? Surely my own healthy, spoiled, fully-sighted cat would quickly catch on. And actually, wouldn’t I be doing him a FAVOR by giving him the chance to experience the great outdoors in person?

I proceeded to purchase a pretty, purple leash and harness from a pet travel company in eager anticipation of the day when, sometime soon, I’d be able to prance Paddington outside, bragging for myself about how EASY he had been to leash train. I couldn’t wait to parade him around town! I wanted to show him off to everyone! I wanted the whole WORLD to witness his complete and utter DEVOTION to me! Just like Honey Bee, the famously blind mountain-climbing cat, I pictured Paddington becoming a celebrity: “The Loyal Old Cat on a Leash Who Follows His Guardian Everywhere!”

CatLeashPic5Photo Credit: A little Brown Blog

Paddington felt a bit differently about this scenario, however. The first time Paddington saw his new pretty, purple leash, he sniffed it suspiciously. The second time, he hissed at it. And the third time, he turned tail and vanished into the nether regions under the bed where no human arms could ever reach. It was clear he wasn’t going to be walking anywhere anytime soon, on a leash OR off.

OK, I thought. Paddington’s obviously having a bad day. I’ll leave him alone for now, and try again in the morning. Morning dawned, and I again produced his pretty, purple leash. Paddington actually let me clip it to his harness this time. Success! I silently cheered. Get ready, world! Here we come! Little did I know, however, that clipping the leash to his harness was as far as I would get, because Paddington chose that precise moment to lie down and completely ignore me. Sprawled in an ungraceful heap on the floor, limbs splayed in every direction, Paddington proceeded to take a full-on, passed-out, snoring, drooling, five-hour catnap. With the pretty, purple leash still clipped to his harness.

Hmm, I thought to myself. Paddington’s just tired. Wait until he wakes up and try again. He must be used to the leash by now! When Paddington finally awoke, he noticed the leash still attached to his harness, and glared at me accusingly. I felt my resolve weaken, but I just had to try again. I began gently tugging the leash in order to rouse Paddington to his feet. Instead of standing, however, Paddington simply melted further into the floor. And he wouldn’t get up for anything. Not for my coaxing; not for my begging; not even for a new can of the expensive gourmet tuna he liked so much that cost a fortune at the local natural food store. He was as complacent as a rock. As pliable as a bag of cement. As stubborn as grains of sand in a bed. His entire 18-pound bulk just DIDN’T WANT TO MOVE.

CatLeashPic1Photo Credit: Montlake

I finally gave in when it started getting dark. I’ll leave it for a later time when he’s in a better mood, I thought. I unhappily unclipped his leash and put it away in the cupboard. The moment the cupboard door closed, my calculating rascal of a cat very deliberately got up off the floor, walked to the bedroom, and proceeded to enjoy that same can of expensive gourmet tuna with which I had earlier tried to bribe him.

I hadn’t entirely given up on my idea, however. A few weeks later, the sun was shining and it was warm as toast outside, so I decided to give it another go. I opened the cupboard door for the leash-but it wasn’t inside! I knew it had been there before, so where was it now? I spent hours looking while Paddington watched me from a kitchen chair. After I finally gave up, I turned to Paddington with suspicion-and saw that he was laughing at me.

I never bought another leash, nor attempted to walk my cat outside, ever again. To this day, the whereabouts of that pretty, purple leash are unknown to anyone-except perhaps to Paddington. And he’s not telling.

imagePhoto Credit: Kelly – Yes this is Paddington! 🙂

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45 thoughts on “Guest Post: Have Leash, Won’t Travel

  1. “Surely any cat in his position would shower me with obedience and loyalty in return for this level of care, right? ”
    Nope – you describe a DOG here … I have news for you: you have a cat.
    “Surely my own healthy, spoiled, fully-sighted cat would quickly catch on. ” The clue is in SPOILED.
    And no, cats do not like leashes, the psychological explanation: They depend on their dexterity and manoeuvrability to escape foes. Our cats are very small predators and their ancestors had to fear that any predator bigger than them would attack and eat them. So those skilled in squeezing quickly into small places where to hide were those to survive and thus pass on their genes. That is why Paddington fled under the bed. The leash is hindering this free movement. Yes, I know, there are still cats who walk an leashes. Most are already trained as kittens, though. You can teach a kitten a lot of nonsense … or useful things, too. But Paddington is a year or two older …

    1. Yeah that is very true. My first cat loved the harness and lead because she knew it meant to go outside. (The charity we got her from suggested this as she needed a safe outside). Oliver? I wouldnt dare trying haha. 🙂

    2. Hi! Paddington’s caregiver here. Yep, I learned all this the hard way! Although here in America there are quite a few leash-trained cats-but I’m sure they must have been trained as kittens. Maybe if I ever adopt a younger kitty I might give it another go, but Paddington was a mite too elderly to learn “new tricks.” Oh well, it sure was funny to try to entice him anyway! Thanks for reading! =^..^=

  2. Now humans should learn that we cats cannot be trained. In all these years that we are ‘pets” they still not learned that 😉 No leashes, no bow ties (yes, my human tried this a while back, still plotting my revenge), no stuff on the head or anywhere else we look good in our own fur.
    Billy The Time Cat

    1. I have had A LOT OF CATS. They are not dogs. They DON’T DO leashes or harnesses. Sure, I wanted to take my cats out for walks. Yes, I bought all the “STUFF”. I ended up EVERY TIME, dragging the cats. Not a ONE would ever use a leash and harness. Most domestics will REFUSE. When they refuse, good LUCK, as if anyone sees you dragging your cat down the street like in those photos (you may be accused of animal abuse). I WOULD REPORT IT. Its plain mean. If you live some place where a CAT is safe to go outdoors FREELY with a microchip, collar and name tag, by all means: Your cat is LUCKY! Let them out to have some hunting fun. They always come back in a couple hours.

      They want their food and beds and all of YOU LOVE. Here, I cannot let cats out or they will not last a day without being lunch to coyotes.

      Kelly: Is Paddington YOURS? He sure looks happier in the last photo. Regarding, the others being dragged on leashes, that tends to be how it goes and I will NEVER do it to my cats. Nor, will I try to TRAIN them to be a DOG. If you want to take you cat out on a leash for a walk? JUST GET A DOG! Please!

      I loved this POST: Cute, Funny, Easy to relate to, and VERY WELL WRITTEN!!

      Thanks for sharing, as this was very hilarious: BEEN THERE; DONE THAT and FAILED every single time!!

      Thanks for sharing this wonderfully written post!! We are all enjoying it a great deal!! <3 and =^..^=

      ~Sheryl

      1. Yes, Sheryl, I now have to agree (Paddington’s caretaker here). At least Paddington seems to like his wooly jumper that I got him to keep him warm during the holidays. But as for leash training? NOPE! =^..^= What can I say, I was young and naive and jealous that so many others could walk THEIR cats outside! Oh well, Paddington cured me of that fantasy really quick! : )

    2. Although Paddington DOES enjoy his wooly jumpers (I’m his caregiver). I suppose I’ll just stick to that with my kitties from now on!

    1. HI Sheryl! Yep, I just have the one cat now, Butternut. Paddington sadly passed not too long ago (he had lymphoma), and of course, you know about Gator. I definitely will be adopting another kitty at some point, both for Butternut and for me, but I still have a ways to go! But it will be something to look forward to in the new year! : ) I should try to get up a picture of Butternut in his too tight sweater for TRT-he just looks SO silly in it! xo

  3. That picture of ‘nope’ is just so funny – made me laugh out loud. I too have a cat that I take out on a leash and in my case, it somewhat works. We spend a lot of time either doing nothing, just sitting watching the birds and the bees and other times, I get dragged in to the undergrowth but all in all, it works quite well. Thanks for the humor 🙂

  4. I still have the harness and leash from two cats back. Louie didn’t fight me putting the harness on, but once outside and set down, he wasted maybe five seconds slipping out of the harness I thought was securely on.

    Later, I learned that I could walk with him as long as I let him determine the pace and agenda, but never with a leash.

    The walks were, though, quite entertaining because he stopped to sniff flowers, poop in neighbors’ flower beds while I stood there (trying not to be conspicuous…!), and walk by bedroom windows where he knew he could raise neighbor cats to the window for a little hissing and attitude attacks.

    Though I wondered if I’d get stopped by the police for my curious walking habits, my neighbors (fortunately) realized I was walking with Louie, thought it cute, and nobody complained about us.

    1. Well that’s great that at least YOUR cat would walk for you! So funny that he would try to “egg on” the cats in the window. Yes, it would have been so funny for all my neighbors to see me with Paddington on the leash. It’s a pretty unusual sight to see, that’s for sure : )

  5. While this is quite humorous, and the pictures are funny to us, the cat is upset and shutting down.

    For some reason all cats react this way unless you use a process when leash training. I have a search & rescue cat, henry who I trained to help me track lost and hiding cats. It was key to get him to be VERY comfortable in a leash, so I did a lot of research on it.

    Get in touch if I can help you and him!

    Kim Freeman
    Lost Cat Finder
    lostcatfinder@gmail.com

    1. HI Kim! Paddington’s Mum here! Thanks for reading my post and for your message, but I just wanted to reassure you about what Marc already wrote-NONE of those cats in the pictures above is mine (except Paddington, wrapped up in the yellow towel-with no leash on). So don’t worry, I don’t know ANY of those other cats in the pictures, and would NEVER treat them as portrayed in the pictures (as Marc can tell you, I am one of the biggest cat lovers out there); the pics of the kitties are simply JPEG images I pulled off Google’s website. I wouldn’t want to try to leash train a kitty again on my own, unless the cat was very young and/or I had a professional trainer. Amusingly enough, however, Paddington DID love to wear sweaters around his body, even though he didn’t like the harness around his body-go figure! Thanks! Kelly =^..^=

    1. Hi Creekviewcarol!

      Paddington’s Mum here! Thanks for reading my post and for your message, but I want to address your comment because I cannot tell if it was meant in jest or if you are truly upset.

      FIRST: None of those cats in the pictures is mine (except Paddington, wrapped up in the yellow towel). I do not go around dragging cats.

      SECOND: I only made this one half-hearted attempt to leash him in his entire 18 years of life. I took excellent care of him. Plus, here in America there are quite a few leash-trained cats, so it is not an uncommon thing for people to do.

      THIRD: I assure you, Paddington was never hurt, in distress, or upset over this-ever, in his entire life, actually. I am a professional writer, so for this post I took artistic liberties in order to make it humorous and to create a denouement. As Marc will tell you, I am one of the biggest and most loving cat fanciers out there.

      FOURTH: Paddington needed to wear sweaters, because he was part Siamese with very short hair, so he was always cold. My vet was the one who told me to do this.

      Thanks again for letting me clear this up!
      -Best, Kelly =^..^=

      1. Carol’s “mom” here. No need to apologize, Kelly! I’m afraid Carol sometimes misunderstands our good, albeit human, intentions. I myself have taken cats out on a leash. And the few occasions we’ve had a little fun dressing her and her siblings in sweaters were all out of love. I think Paddington is very lucky to have you for a mom!

  6. Cats are masters of passive resistance. My husband swears ours have some sort of gravity switch that turns on when we try to lift them off someplace they want to stay.

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