My Cat Walks on a Leash

She responds to commands like “come,” “sit,” and “shake.” She also likes to go on road trips in my car.

This all started around twenty years ago, well before she was ever born. In fact, at the time, I used to say I hated cats. I didn’t want anything to do with them. Fast-forward to today, and now, I’m a cat-person.

Here’s how this all happened.

When I was around fourteen years old, I had a dog. His name was Bones. And Bones was supposed to be my responsibility. I promised my mother I would get up early and walk Bones before going to school, and that I’d walk him when I came home. But most the time I forgot, and Bones would have accidents in the house. When my mother asked whether I walked him, I’d lie and say that I did. And then Bones, embarrassed and ashamed, would suffer through a punishment. He would be placed in “time out” inside his kennel while we yelled at him.

I loved the dog, but I was too naïve (and just too plain lazy) to care for another living thing. It wasn’t long before my mother caught on to my ruse, and realized I wasn’t caring for Bones. She gave Bones away to one of my older cousins who took care of him up until he died, which was just a few years ago.

Bones circa 1998.

I still feel guilty over the way I mistreated Bones. Ever since then, I promised myself that I would never adopt another animal if I couldn’t care for it properly. And then one day, in 2015, this cat fell into my lap.

I was visiting a work colleague who had a new baby. I wanted to congratulate him and his wife with a gift. I had bought them a box of diapers, some baby clothes, and a gift certificate with a small card.

The first thing I noticed when they opened their door was all the noise. Three kids running around the house, dinner cooking on the stove, two dogs barking and chasing after one another, and this tiny kitten attacking a piece of ribbon on the floor. When I asked my co-worker how he was holding up, he merely shrugged and pointed out everything I had noticed.

“And on top of all that, there’s this damn cat,” he said. “We fostered it, and now we have to get rid of it.”

My wife (who was my girlfriend at the time), had talked about adopting a cat. And even though I thought I didn’t like cats, I told my colleague I’d consider taking this one. I said I’d consider taking the cat.

Before I knew it, the cat was strapped inside a kennel in the passenger seat of my car. And we were on our way to Petco to pick-up litter and other supplies. I still don’t know exactly how this all happened. I feel like my co-worker must have planned this all along.

The kitten immediately attached herself to me—opting to sleep on my chest or on my arm at night. She’d run to the door to greet me every day when I came home from work. We quickly became inseparable. Wherever I went, she’d follow me.

I named her “Cat” which was supposed to be short for “Catherine.” But the name never stuck. My wife kept calling her “Kitten,” and as a result, this is what she goes by now.

Kitten wandering around the garden with her leash trailing behind her.

 

Remembering back at how I neglected Bones when I was kid, I decided I need to take more responsibility for this cat. And since I didn’t know anything about raising cats, I did some digging on the subject. I read two books: The Trainable Cat by John Bradshaw, and Think Like a Cat by Pam Johnson-Bennett (which I highly recommend).

I basically use these books as how to manuals. I’m always referring back to them.

Through these books, I learned that cats are emotionally complex creatures who crave as much attention as dogs. They are social, playful, and intelligent in their own way. On top of that, cats can be trained.

And in short, that’s how my cat came to learn how to walk on a leash, and obey commands.

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