Friday, September 21, 2007

Why Penny Was The Best Cat In The World (#1) – or – Stupid People I Pass On The Way To Work

(pastels on dollar store paper)

This post would be entirely different had I not just seen what I did while I walked to work. It also would have been posted earlier.

I saw a woman walking her cat on a leash.

Actually, I don’t mind that act at all. Penny had her pretty black harness with glitter and a lead. We walked in the country when I lived upstate or in the apartment building when I lived in the city. I still remember the first time I put the harness on. R. and I were roommates and she had a cat as well. Since we lived in more of a suburban land, we thought it would be good to harness train our pets to take them outside. When I went to put the harness on Penny for the first time, she just leaned against my leg and looked up at me lovingly as I fumbled with the straps and tried to figure it out. R’s cat hissed and sank to the floor. In the end, R. gave her cat a nice drag across the carpet while Penny and I went outside to sniff the flowers and sit down in the sun while she nibbled on grass.

Walking a cat is different than walking a dog. They are abiding your wishes by wearing the harness, but you go where they want to go. Also, not all cats take to the harness (plus, for some it just takes time and patience). Penny walked like a bulldog down my apartment hallways whenever we went walking in her harness. However, the minute she got spooked she zoomed into my arms or into the apartment, and she had the right to do so.

The first time I saw someone (non me or R) walking a cat on a harness was at a rabies clinic I was a volunteer for. The woman took her cat out of the box, it was on a leash, and the cat flipped out. The feline started spinning on its back and hissing. It was stressed, and should never have been taken out of the box while on that leash except by someone trained to handle it. The woman, worried that the cat in its spinning would strangle its poor furry self, reached in to soothe it and a stream of blood shot across the room. Her wrist had been slashed by a flurry of furry anxiety.

The second time was by a truly stupid person. I think Romero has it right and zombies are now, his movies are just a warning to us all. I was volunteering at a dogs walk against cancer, and a person had brought out a cat on a leash thinking it would be ‘funny’. The cat was cowering, whimpering, and frightened as it tried to escape but had nowhere to go. The owner was laughing as dogs surrounded the trapped feline, and I was livid. I do think he was kicked out of the event.

Now, I have seen responsible cat walkers, those who know their cats. There is one in my neighborhood who takes her feline out to the park to nibble grass. The cat’s temperament is one for the walk; it just ambles along looking at everything, gazing up at its human partner with affection, and is generally unafraid. Together they sit in the grass and watch the birds fly by. If that is the animal’s temperament, then go for it! I love it, it’s responsible stewardship.

But today, today as I was walking to work in Midtown Manhattan – a place populated by a lot of suits rushing to work, a lot of cars, a lot of emissions – I saw a woman walking her cat and the cat was terrified. It was as low to the ground as it could possibly get, its tail was twitching back and forth, ears back. Every time it passed one of the tiny ‘beautification’ trees the city has put up, the cat darted up as far as it could go then the body would snap as the end of the leash was reached. She was walking it with just a collar, not a full harness, so its neck was pulling against the collar which could cause so much damage to the poor fuzzy.

This was not a cat meant to be walked in such a high population area, at least, not yet. The woman was smiling and laughing each time the cat zoomed up a tree, and I was seething. The poor thing was traumatized.

I implore pet owners to take the time to learn their pet’s personalities, to not enforce your ideals on an animal that can’t comprehend things the way we do. Show the same devotion to them they show to you, and even more as we are the stewards of the planet and all living creatures on it. We need to protect, empathize, love, and listen to our surroundings and our companion animals. Don’t stress them out for some ideal that may either take time or never be reached.


P I F F L A N said...

I definetly agree with you, and I am not sure I think it is a good idea to EVER walk a cat in the middle of a buzzling city.

Amel's Realm said...


In Indo, nobody puts a leash on a cat (just dogs). Cats can roam freely anywhere, but they always come back to their homes, anyway. They're smart animals. My cat was used to being in a city, so we weren't worried even though he was gone for the whole day. He'd come back during the night, anyway, to eat and sleep in his own "bed".

One time he went out for days on end and we got quite worried. Then while walking around the neighbourhood, we spotted him on the roof of a house!!! We tried to get him to go home, but he wouldn't budge. He did see us and meowed to us, but he was playing with another cat, so we let him be. At least he knew where his home was, so he'd be able to find his way home. And true enough, after a few weeks he came back home, though he looked more skinny than usual he he he...But soon enough he got quite chubby again as we fed him well. ;-D

Victorya said...

pifflan - as with all animals, it's up to them. I've seen rabbits on leashes that are happily hopping about, but if the animal doesn't take to it - don't make them! (and it's always nice to see you here)

Amel - Penny used to always roam freely and come back at night, but when I moved to the city I got worried, so trained her in that suburban place where it was quiet. I just didn't want her to get hurt :)

And yeah, they always go home in the end, well, for the most part! I'm glad to hear he got nice and chubby again.

Amel's Realm said...

Yeah, I understand what you mean. The big city is not a good place for animals to roam around freely. However, since we lived in a small alley (there were some other smaller streets before you could go to the main road), so cats could roam freely pretty safely. ;-D

heavenabove said...

Well put! I did have leashes and harnesses for all 3 of my cats when they were all alive together. I never "walked" them, I just let them go outside harnessed up so they wouldn't dart into the busy street. They didn't mind it but it was hard keeping the 3 of them untangled. I trusted my cats, the drivers I did not! When they we younger, we lived in a less active area so they roamed freely.

Amel, I love your cat story:)

Catmoves said...

I once bought a harness to try it out on the cat who owned me. She stood patiently until I had finally connected all the dots. I snapped the leash on, let it fall to the floor so she could get used to the idea of harness. She promptly curled up and went to sleep. Another cat experiment that failed. She and I continued our harness free walks and she always kept me in her line of vision. And beat me to the door.
I find it hard to believe that woman knew nothing about cats. How sad.

Me: said...

I love cats on leashes! Especially when they're being walked around by men. It has about the same effect on me as seeing men pushing around strollers, although éven less butch I suppose.

But you are so right, allways use harnesses, never just a collar, (unless you WANT you pet to strangle itself) and only, only if your pet is comfortable wearing the harness & lead.

Amel's Realm said...

Hi, Vic, you're tagged. Check it out:

Personal Development List

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!!!! I have an embarrassing story to tell tomorrow. ;-D

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Oh, that's so sad! My girls bought a harness for our little mog - she soon put them straight on that one.. she is definitely NOT of the temperment to be "walked".. ah well, the scars have healed, and valuable lessons were learnt. I don't know why soft is linked to pussycat - our little ball of fur rules our house with a rod of iron (our golden retriever is terrified of her), yet still we are putty in her paws!

Victorya said...

catmoves - that's a perfectly feline story. I can just imagine the cat curling up and not caring :)

me - men walking cats, huhmm, sounds good to me! As long as the animals deal with it fine.

Shrink - oh yes, we are all putty in the paws of kitties, are we not? They are so dear, even when acting up they can just give you that look of pure feline innocence and your guard is down.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I didn't comment before... Did you do that cat drawing? I like the way the floor is at an angle and the wavy lines of the wallpaper.