After last week’s over-the-top craziness when I tried to backpack both cats by myself, ShiShi and Haku were obviously feeling unenthused about adventuring. They were avoiding their backpacks like the plague (I usually keep them on the floor in our living room) and they actually ran from the room when I pulled their harnesses out from the cupboard the other day to de-tangle them from the dog leash. I needed a really great adventure if they were ever going to look forward to exploring the great outdoors again.
Mind you, it wasn’t that they were acting unhappy at home, other than ShiShi’s usual eating problems (that’s an entirely different blog post!) It was more that we were all missing the extra great kitty snuggles and romping around mischief that seem to result after a good adventure. It took most of the week before I finally managed to pull everything together, but yesterday I managed to have breakfast early and attempted to haul us out the door in time to beat the heat. And I do mean attempted…
Tons of Treats Later...
Remember that little running from the backpack behavior? I’m usually spoiled by adventure cats who might circle around a few times and be a little bit of a pain when putting on their harnesses, but this time it took outright bribery to get ready to go. Fortunately, I had just bought a bag of the most exciting treats ever (in the kitties’ opinions, anyway – Vital Essentials Freeze-Dried Rabbit Bites. Can’t recommend them enough!) The irresistible offer of those magnificent treats lured ShiShi out from under the papasan chair and Haku from his spot behind the couch. More treats got them into their harnesses, and even more got them into those dreaded catpacks. See a pattern here?
Then I rounded up my additional teen helpers (no way that I was going it alone again!) and we voyaged a whole 10 minutes down the road to the best cat park around – Phillippi Estate Park. I adore that place because very few people go there, and we’re just not that likely to run into a lot of dogs, but there’s a great trail where the kitties can explore to their hearts content.
Complaints were loud and long from Haku on the way there, as he was still completely unenthused about the trip despite all the treats. Traffic felt torturous, and of course we hit every single red light. But then we were there and…
Adventure Cat Bliss!
The minute that we were finally feet on the trail, everything changed. ShiShi (quiet until now) was begging to get down from her pack to explore, and even the normally wary Haku jumped out of his open pack before I could get it set down properly on the ground. Both of them were instantly trotting down the trail, stopping for sniffs, but ready to actually walk. After last week’s fiasco, it honestly seemed like a hiking kitty miracle.
It was a real milestone, because it was the first time out adventuring that we hardly carried the cats at all (Haku got a lift with me a few times when he got nervous). We managed to complete an entire ¼ mile circuit! That may not sound like much, but I am now filled with hope for longer hikes in the future. In my darker moments, I’ve wondered if ShiShi and Haku would ever be able to really do this hiking thing.
The worst thing to happen on the whole adventure was the 20 million mosquitoes that apparently are making the woods their summer home, and the quickly escalating temperature. We even managed to avoid any patches of poison ivy this time, and nobody tangled so badly in the brush that I had to crawl after them. Haku didn’t want to go back to the excellent climbing tree at the entrance of the trail, but ShiShi explored all over the low branches there.
Needless to say, it took a fair amount of shoving and treats to get both of them back into their catpacks. But they were blissfully quiet on the way home, then napped away the entire afternoon without even one squabble. I’m calling it an unqualified success – and everlastingly grateful that the kitties aren’t running from their harnesses now.
Buy more of those amazing treats to keep on hand for training emergencies, and make sure to take the cats to a secure and familiar place if I need to make up for a bad adventure. Also, I’d definitely prefer in the future do it sooner than I was able to this time – bad habits are SO hard to break, and I’ll probably be handing out treats to get into the catpacks for a while.
🐾💖🐾 We're so glad to see you here! Haku and ShiShi love sharing snippets of their lives with you on Instagram, but this is where you can find the real shenanigans! (And all the training that happens 'Behind the Scenes') ~ Love ShiShi, Haku and Mira💖