Relearning her catwalk.
A few years ago, Caviar had some health difficulties, which made it unsafe for her to be outside without a protector. So, she and I learned to walk together. I learned to lead, and she learned to follow. And, she taught me the importance of not only how to lead cats, but people. In the beginning, I would coax her and encourage her. I’d say, “Come on Cavi, you can do it!” And the more I coaxed, the more she stayed put, sat down, or cried “Neoooooooow!” I learned that she knew what I was asking of her, she knew that it was for her own good, and that the more I asked her, the more she felt afraid of failing and pressured to walk. So, I learned to tell her that we were going for a walk, carry her outside, and then I slowly turned my back to her and walked away, without looking back. In 30 steps or so, if she hadn’t caught up with me, I’d sit down with my back turned to her, so that she could catch up. When she did, she got a “Good Girl!!” with lots of pets, and then I got up and started walking again. And THAT is how we learned to lead and follow, without a leash or food treats.
This walking thing took our neighbors by surprise. No one expected to see a woman walking down the road once or twice a day with a cat in tow. This befuddled one of my male neighbors so much, as a matter of fact, that when I went to his mother-in-law’s funeral two years later, the very first thing he said to me in the funeral procession line was, “How do you make that cat follow you?” After looking deeply in his eyes, I realized his question was sincere, so I replied, “Ahh, YOU know you can’t make anybody do anything. She does it because she wants to, and likes it.”