Clove hasn’t been coping very well during this cold winter season. This is her first winter so she doesn’t quite understand that it will get warmer and the trees will be green again soon. Luckily I don’t take her out very often in the winter. Mainly because when I do, she refuses to move due to cold.
So at the moment, we live in a first floor flat with no immediate access to the wilderness besides windows. Clove seems happy enough and she’s never had full access that has been revoked so all she knows is that when she puts on her little pink harness, that its time to go outside.
Clove is the first indoor cat I’ve owned, every other cat has been able to roam free so this was going to be a bit of a learning curve. I knew when I adopted her that I didn’t want her locked in my one bedroom flat 24/7 (I don’t think that would be very healthy) and has browsed different ways of introducing her to fresh air. In a moment of complete genius, I managed to make shift her a window, sort of perch thing. My windows open in full, like window shutters (no idea what the technical term is) so there is no way to restrict how much window is open, its just all or nothing. So, using a deconstructed frame less photo frame, I created a safe bridge between the open window and the window frame. She happily sits there and watches the world go by.
After a while, clove began to show further interest to go beyond the flat so I went to our local pet store, picked up a pretty cat harness and cat lead. I wanted her to get used to wearing a harness before I dared take her outside and she was a few weeks away from getting her jabs and micro chip anyway so we had a little time to train. Day 1 wasn’t very successful. She cried and cried and refused to move with it on so I had to choice but to take it off and reward her with treats. This was her expression:
After a few more attempts, Clove began to get the hang of it, distracting her with food worked a treat. Eventually it was time to test her outside. I remember taking her down the corridor for the first time and she was clinging to my t-shirt. Once we put her little paws on the grass she just froze, with the feather duster tail high in the air. She stayed like that for a what felt like a life time before a happy little bumble bee buzzed past her nose and instinct took over. As this was Cloves first trip outside, we kept her on the lead (in fear that she would run off forever), following her every movement. She didn’t seem to mind.
As the months progressed, Clove had mapped more and more of the garden and I had begun to trust her without her lead. She would, and still does, occasionally run off but always comes back when she hears the treat jar rattle. She still wears her harness (though now a much bigger one) as she associates it with outside and so I can see her when she goes exploring beyond the hedge and into the undergrowth. Unfortunately we’ve been unable to introduce her to snow as winter has been more rain than anything else here but I can just imagine her confused reaction when she finally feels it for the first time. Later on this year we are moving so Clove will have a garden all of her own to come and go as she pleases so I will cherish these moments where she comes running up to me with yet another fly in her month.