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March 29, 2018
Hello James and Olympia!
Pet: Indoor Cat
Breed: British Short hair (I think)
Age: Roughly 13 years
Likes: Fish, Sleep, Warm Patches of Sun, Staring at Walls, Being Brushed
Dislikes: Other Cats, Being Ignored
Thank you for chatting to us for our blog post on National 'Walk in the Park day!'
Could you tell us about yourself, When did you first adopt Olympia?
I first met Olympia when I moved into rented accommodation in Margate February 2014. She didn't belong to me at the time, but was the property owners' pet, but I fell in love with her immediately. She was named Olympia because she turned up during the day of the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony, claimed residence in the house and thereafter never left. I usually like to pick my pet's name, but Olympia was too perfect to change as it's such a counter intuitively grandiose, powerful name for what is a frail little thing. She more frequently goes by 'Lolly' or 'Lol'.
One fateful day shortly into my stay, Olympia was destined to fly out to Quatar to join her owners and live overseas with them. I said a sad goodbye to her expecting that to be the last I ever saw of her. However, and to my eternal delight, on my return from work there she was. Due to a last minute complication in transit laws and her paperwork she had been unable to fly out that day!
Subsequently I adopted her as my own as it became increasingly apparent to me that I loved her too much to ever see her leave again. I came in one evening and the owners were on the phone discussing Olympia's future with someone who was offering to take her. I've never agreed to something as fast as when they asked if I'd take full time care of her instead. Altogether she's been with me for four years, every moment a delight!
What made you decide to start walking her outside?
Olympia has always been a house cat, even when presented with the opportunity for full outdoor access. She enjoyed basking in sunbeams, but never really explored, much more preferring the home comforts of soft furnishings. This meant that after moving to an apartment, I wasn't concerned about her welfare as she was content to stay inside.
That being said, she is getting older, I believe she is 13 or 14 years old. I understand the importance of keeping her mentally stimulated and active in her older years. Despite her sleeping about 18 to 20 hours a day during the winter - which is perfectly usual for such an elderly cat - I try to engage her with various activities to get her brain going. Recently I thought about taking her outside with me during warm weather in order that she might enjoy a bit more of the wider world - the sounds and smells of the beach and sea, feeling the sea breeze and such. Despite her obvious lack of distress at being kept in all day, I began to feel a little bad about leaving her at home everyday while I went to work. Walking with her outside was an obvious solution. I get to enjoy seeing her in a new environment without the fear of losing her, and she gets to experience new stimulus and sensations that are beneficial to her mental and physical health.
How did you plan out your first walk? What did you need to buy?
I bought a standard cat lead for £3.95, my thought was that if she hated it, it wasn't exactly a big loss. And that was about it really! Planning the first walk was more in essence a 'first carry' rather than 'first walk' as I barely set her down, opting instead to get her used to being with me outside. We go round the back of my apartment where there is a spacious grass area and then the beach and sea, so it's simply a case of carrying her round the corner, past the main road and plopping her down! Nothing too elaborate really, so long as I keep an eye out for any interested dogs that may give her cause for alarm. Subsequently there isn't really ever a plan, we just visit the same spot so she gets more familiar with it each time.
What was Olympia's first reaction to the lead?
Shes such a small little animal that even with the harness being adjusted to the shortest it still hangs a bit loose on her. She didn't seem too fussed with the harness on in the house, but she did try and walk away from it sideways like a clumsy crab. I think she got bored of it fairly quickly but never really seemed too bothered. Then again, she is usually quite aloof and indifferent to most things. Outdoors she is far more interested in everything else in the world to worry about the lead at all.
What was Olympia's impression of her first walk?
She is a fairly nervous cat in new environments, and outside was no different. She never strayed far from me, opting instead to use the crouch and sniff method to cautiously investigate small patches at a time. She was clearly overwhelmed by all the space now available to her and wasn't sure what to do. She's getting bolder now and likes to waddle off to investigate different areas, which is awkward when those areas that involve going under a gate or over a wall! Apart from that she is usually very happy to be carried, so a lot of the time I just pop her on my shoulders to enjoy an elevated view of her surroundings. I think eventually I'll take her down onto the beach to see what she thinks of the sand.
Any advice for others who are thinking about walking their cat?
I've only been out with her a few times so I don't really feel qualified to offer advice as such. That being said, from what I know about cats - having almost never lived without one in 29 years! - I would suggest that most cats would actively object to being walked, if a cat is introduced to the outside world as a kitten and has full access whenever they want, then there's no reason to walk them. In cases like Olympia however - a senior cat, somewhat nervous and used to living indoors - I would recommend trying it as a useful experiment at the very least to gauge their reaction to the outside world. I had no thoughts about it becoming a regular occurrence, but I think and hope we might end up enjoying a lot more walks to come!
Admittedly the weather hasn't been great recently due to snow and cold weather, so we've had to postpone today's documented walk with James and Olympia, however we've rearranged to see you both again in the Easter Holidays! So keep an eye out for that!
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