Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But he did go outside. His was the first expedition of my long-held plan to let my cats outside – on a leash.
The leash and harness apparatus I used is a simple device, one that has been used by many when taking their cats outside. I have seen better harnesses, safer ones, no doubt, but I thought I would try this particular kind. If I felt that it was insecure, I would replace it.
The first task was to select a cat for the bold experiment. That was not really difficult. Parker has wanted to escape through the apartment’s front door for some time. His eagerness was apparent; as well, from his temperament, I judged that he would not be unnerved by the experience.
Secondly, I had to put the harness on my foster-cat. That was trickier, as he kept lying down in a form of passive resistance. This turned out to be directed more against my fiddling with buckles and straps than against the actual harness. Once it was in place, Parker seemed untroubled by it.
Then, we were out the door. The orange boy was incredulous that I was permitting him to leave the confines of our home. I walked him up and down the corridor outside the apartment first, to see how he would behave with the harness and the leash. He was accepting of the former, though he was unsure of what the tugging on the leash indicated. He adapted to such unwonted commands quite rapidly.
And so to the great outdoors. Parker enjoyed himself. He smelled everything; his nose was always going. Indeed, there must have been a great deal to smell. A strong but warm wind blew this evening, and it must have brought exotic fragrances from far away to the sturdy boy’s sensitive nostrils. He rolled on the grass several times, purring. What a fresh, aromatic carpet he had found.
We saw cats. Initially, we saw Renn and Tucker. They appeared bemused as to why Parker was outside. They did not seem envious, just mystified.
Parker observed cats far above, too, in a fenced-in balcony on the third floor. I don’t know how he recognized them as fellow felines, since they could barely be seen, but he knew what they were and, I believe, they knew his kind, too.
Around the building, we came across another cat. This one was on a lower balcony and, to be honest, I don’t think Parker saw her. He didn’t look at her, but he knew a cat was around. He started grumbling and even growling; we were upwind of the cat, and I’m certain it was the smell of another of his species that induced his reaction. Perhaps if he had seen it, as he had the other felines, he would not have been as hostile. It may have been the fact that he couldn’t see her that caused him to give off warnings.
But soon, we were home. Parker didn’t beg to go out some more; in fact, his behaviour has not acknowledged that he was even outside. I was afraid that I would be faced with an animal constantly crying to be released, and that may yet come. But for now, he seems simply to have enjoyed his little adventure.
For my part, I am satisfied with the harness and leash. At one point, Parker may have noticed something stimulating, since he threw himself forward; if he had not been secured by a leash, I likely would not have seen him again. But the leash was untroubled; Parker was pulled up short – ‘up’ being an accurate word; he hit the limit of the strap and flew into the air, no doubt an unexpected event for him – but was unhurt. I had made sure that the straps that circled both his chest and neck were secure, but not too tight. It was a good test.
I suspect that Parker will want to explore further beyond his home. I will offer the same adventure to the others, with the exception of Cammie. There is something about her temperament that suggests I should keep her inside. I may be wrong, but she is perhaps too confident to be allowed out. Renn may like it, Josie possibly, Tucker probably not. But we will see. Someday, all of my cats may be outside-cats – as long as the outside extends only so far as a six foot long leash.