Sunday, April 17, 2005

Leash Training a Bengal - pt. 2

For the other installments of this article, look here:

Last time, we discussed leashes and collars and cat harnesses and the like.

This time I'll talk about how we introduced Leela to the jacket we ended up getting for her. We were worried about this stage. Whenever we'd tried this sort of thing with cats in the past, they'd just gone nuts. They'd hated the whole concept of having this thing applied to them, and the whole process had short-circuited right there.

So we took our time. Leela has a kind of cat toy corner in the living room. It's where her occasionally beloved Star Chaser Turbo sits, and all her other toys seem to be based there when she hasn't dragged them off to some other part of the house.

When we got the jacket, we didn't immediately try to stick her in it. We pretty much just tossed it into the toy corner and left it there. For a week. We let her play with the box it came in. She loves a good cardboard box, especially one with stray bits of packing tape.

"of course I can't move. I'm encased in, what is this, wet sand?"

So for a week, the jacket was just sort of lying there with her toys. She didn't really play with all that much. But she nosed it around a little, recognized it and generally got used to it. A week later, she didn't give it a second thought. (Of course she's a Bengal. She's not intimidated by much of anything.)

The moment of truth came when we strapped her into it. We did this without any intention of taking her outside. One step at a time. We figured we'd let her get used to the jacket first, then worry about outdoors. It went pretty well. She was a bit confused about the whole thing - though she didn't howl or fight or really complain at all. Then she took a couple of steps and collapsed. She'd just sort of lay there in the middle of the kitchen floor with this expression that said, "well, of course I can't move. I'm encased in, what is this, wet sand?"

Not perfect, but we found we could distract her from her woeful state. If we offered to play with her, she'd quickly forget about the thing. Before long, she'd be chasing her cat dancer or what have you, just as she usually did. So for the next week, that's just what we did, for ten to fifteen minutes a day. Just put it on her and play indoors. And again, she gradually got used to the jacket. Before long she was acting quite normally with it on.

So at this point, we were feeling pretty clever. We had this thing nailed. In our next installment, we go outside and succeed a little too well.


At April 17, 2005 at 8:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a friend that owns two. They are beautiful cats.

At April 20, 2005 at 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmm that is so cool. I'm getting a Lynx. ^__^ Are those legal?

At April 24, 2005 at 12:21 AM, Blogger Rene said...

Sometimes you may think 'Wow, I didn't expect my Bengal to learn sooo fast!', othertimes 'Grrr, you were used to that, why are you so scared now?'

A Bengal is in that respect just like any other cat: (s)he decides for her/himself what's agreeable and what's not. Be prepared to see Leela progress at her own pace.

Bengals have such strong personalities... and I love them for it.

Good luck with your leash training.


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