A Leash Turns My Anxious Cat Into a Confident Queen


Saffy, the most senior of our three kitties, turned 14 years old in February. She’s a fluffy gal with a demure personality and low-key lifestyle. The highlights of her day are all related to food, and, until last year, she’d nap and enjoy window time only in between meals.

Saffy longingly gazes into the great outdoors.
Saffy longingly gazes into the great outdoors.

Saffy is an anxious kitty often bullied by Phoebe, the youngest of our feline brood. Saffy is twice Phoebe’s size; however, she cowers at the sight of the 7-pound calico tabby. Phoebe has moxie enough for all the cats and humans who live under our roof. She struts through the house like Simba from The Lion King, and she claims what she wants with no regrets. And if Saffy happens to get in her way, she thinks nothing of swatting her or chasing her up and down the stairs. Poor Saff has no backbone when it comes to that tiny tyrant.

"Curse these four walls!"
“Curse these four walls!”

Saffy has always had a thing for the outdoors, and she is the only one of our cats who tries to escape into the outside world when an opportunity arises. When there’s no chance of fleeing the scene, she earnestly gazes outside, probably imagining herself as a grand huntress, queen of the front yard. I’d love to see her little thought bubbles.

A few years ago it occurred to me that Saffy might cooperatively wear a harness and leash. Right around that time, I won a Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash at a conference. Perfect! I saw whether Saffy would wear the contraption and finally claim her outdoor kingdom.

"I feel alive!"
“I feel alive!”

I have to admit she wasn’t keen on my positioning the harness around her fluffy frame, but she didn’t instantly freeze and fall to the ground like she does when I attempt to dress her in a festive holiday vest. As soon as she realized she’d moved beyond the front door, her demeanor was nothing short of exhilarated. Any irritation with the harness quickly disappeared, along with the fear of Phoebe’s iron-pawed reign.

She proudly explored the yard, stopping to sample tasty blades of grass. She rolled in the sun, looking playful as a kitten, without a care in the world. She turned her face toward the breeze, taking in the sweet smells of freedom. Saffy was no longer the anxious kitty, always watching her back — she was a confident woman of the world. I can’t tell you how happy I felt watching her revel in her bold new surroundings.

The moths shiver in fear when Saffy visits the tree.
The moths shiver in fear when Saffy visits the tree.

I’ve taken to bringing Saffy outside on a regular basis, and she couldn’t be more pleased. In fact, her little round face lights up when she sees me grab the the bright red leash.

One of her favorite activities is moth hunting. The winged prey gather below the pine tree in our yard. Like a mighty huntress, she stalks the fierce moths and then captures them with what we call her “paws of lightning.” She might be an old lady, but her paws can move!

And Cosmo and Phoebe? They’re both terrified of the outdoors and refuse to wear the harness. So while Saffy prances and explores, they watch her through the glass door. They’re fascinated with her every move. And for that short time, Saffy’s spirit soars and she gets to be the queen.

"Who's awesome now?"
“Who’s awesome now?”

Does your indoor cat enjoy walks on a leash? Tell us about it in the comments!

Read more by Angie Bailey

About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.

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