Soon after writing the first “Peculiar Ways of My Cat” post, I bought two seven foot cat towers. I figured the offering would be my best chance at preventing the critter from shredding the contents of my home. Though it wasn’t completely successful, it at least proved to be partially effective. At this point in time, the towers have taken quite a beating, and may not survive for much longer. Clawed nearly beyond recognition, they offer a mere glimpse at their earlier days. Too bad, considering I originally thought of placing the cat’s food bowl on the highest level. I figured it would be a good way to keep him in shape, while I would benefit from the entertainment. Having no easy way to secure the food dish up there, I decided against it, ultimately.
Besides the towers, I’ve taken steps to train him beyond his existing ability to follow a particular procedure whenever it is time to eat. As my next challenge, I’m teaching him to come to me at any time, not only when he’s hungry. To do this, I will discreetly pick up some treats, and call his name from a distance. If he approaches me, he gets a treat. Once he starts to understand that I have treats, I have to utilize the stop command – keeping him in place. Then, all I need to do is move across the apartment, and call him over. If he starts moving before I call him over, he doesn’t get a treat, and the exercise starts all over again. So far, it is working well, but much more repetition is needed before I am ready to write another “Turning a Cat into a Dog” article.
The more I observe his behavior, the more I become aware of the intelligence he possesses. For example, he has learned to associate the squeal of my mother’s brakes with her arrival. The squeal itself is fairly subtle, but very often I will see him dart suddenly across the room. This usually means he heard the brakes, and wants to get to the balcony as fast as possible, to confirm that she has, in fact, arrived. Once he does, he will sometimes proceed to run back and forth across the length of the window, in excitement. If that’s not the behavior of a dog, I don’t know what is.
On the transportation side, there have been new developments. Originally, I would simply put him a fabric grocery bag, and hand him off to my mother, who would then bring him to her place by car. Once he arrives at my parents place, he had other cats to play with and/or terrorize, and that always brings good physical exercise.
Eventually, I had the idea of walking to my parents place with the cat in tow. Since they leave only 15 mins away on foot, this was a realistic possibility. To accomplish this, I wrapped the cat up in multiple fabric shopping bags, creating a very complex restraint with the bag handles. Only his head was out in the open, the rest of his body was completely wrapped in the bag, and tangled with the handles. My entanglement approach was designed to decrease the chance of him running away, should he to somehow get free while in transit. My plan worked well – I was able to walk to and from my parents place by simply carrying him with one arm. Despite being an indoor cat, he proved to be quite the professional urbanite, rarely getting nervous from what he was witnessing. The only signs of nervousness were perfectly understandable, for example: a loud bus drove by, relatively close. All I had to do was use both arms in these moments, to calm him down and prevent him from moving. One day, I will look into getting some sort of an animal carrier, as it should make the whole process easier. During these adventures, the cat seems to enjoy being out of his limited indoor environment. Also, the reactions I get from random people are too priceless to pass up.