Sunday, May 01, 2005

Leash Training a Bengal - pt. 4

For the previous installments in this story, look here:

Last time, I talked about how we had to re-train Leela not to associate her enjoyable outdoor romps with going out our front or back door - and try to slip outside every time we tarried at the door with a pizza deliveryman.

This time, the last stage in taking your Bengal cat into the outdoors, how the cat will react, and how other people will react. As for the cat itself, especially if yours is usually an indoor cat, expect a certain amount of wary acclimation to any outdoor area you take them to. Just like if you moved them to a new home, they'd spend some time nervously exploring and getting adjusted. For Leela this seems to take about 10 minutes. Then she's ready to explore. Remember, this is not leash training like you'd train a dog. It's going to want to go where it wants to go. Your Bengal is NOT going to heel nicely along down the sidewalk at your side.

To our thinking, though, that's not the point. The goal here is to let your cat enjoy the outdoors and explore. The leash is there - more precisely you are there - to make sure the cat doesn't get into trouble or danger. The point is not to make the cat do compulsory figures for the judges. That said, the judges.

People are accustomed to seeing dogs on leashes, romping with their owners in public parks. They are not used to seeing cats do this. They will point and stare. They will react to and interact with you. They will tend to find it amusing that your cat isn't acting like a dog would on a leash.

Sometimes all this is great fun. Most people think this whole idea is funny and will simply give you a big smile. Some will get confused, come up and ask you "is that a cat?" Others will do horrible imitation meows just to see if they can rattle your cat.

Leela being regal at Jericho Beach

(In this shot of course you can get a pretty good look at the HDW Cat Walking Jacket I was talking about back in the first post. Note the twin torso straps - backing what amounts to a single wide band around her belly. Then you can just make out the collar, and the backing strap that connects them.)

For the most part though, people are pleasant about the whole thing. If you just want to be left alone to walk your cat, well, don't count on it. If you want to use your Bengal as an icebreaker and conversation starter, you're on the right track.


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