Story Time: Cat Harnesses

Cat Harnesses


Why I have outdoor cats and don’t board them when we go away.

Years ago I went to Sweden for a week. At the time I was living by myself and had no one to check in on my cat, Toonces. So while I was away I had her boarded at a vet.

Now Toonces, like many quasi-sentient animals, was not fond of the vet’s office as a vacation spot. She’d nuke it from orbit if she had opposable thumbs. But this is the cat who got into repeated fights with raccoons, who had her food stolen by a dog when the neighbor left it out for her the last time I went away (so she killed and ate a full-grown rabbit including many of the bones). I wanted to be there if she needed a trip to the vet after one of her “adventures.” I boarded her for her own safety.

Toonces was an extremely unhappy cat when I dropped her off. I wondered if she’d ever forgive me.

When I picked her up, she could not wait to leave the vet’s. “Thank GOD you’re busting me out of this joint!” she seemed to say as she strained at the end of her leash-and-Chihuahua harness, nails dug deep halfway up the door to the outside.

However, the minute we were out the door, she clung feverishly to the outside of the same door, wanting back in. It was a noisy street downtown, and after a week indoors perhaps the sun was blinding. I think she went into sensory overload.

I pried her nails out of the door. Once I had carried her around the corner she saw our car. Now this is a cat who does not like to ride in cars. She hated it. But this time she recognized my vehicle as something familiar, and she streaked to it on her leash, screaming to be let in. I was very happy to get her inside the car as I was afraid she’d get loose in a strange neighborhood and I’d never find her.

But…the instant she got out of the car in my driveway, in less than a second she bonelessly twisted out of that Chihuahua harness like Houdini on steroids and streaked off. I stood there, holding the now-useless leash, in shock. Had she done that in the parking lot at the vet’s, I’d have never seen her again. I think losing a beloved pet in a strange city might be every pet owner’s nightmare.

So that’s why I leave my cats a big bowl of food and fresh water and get someone to refill them ever so often when we will be away for more than a day or two. Because I nearly lost the Toonce and I don’t want to go through that with any pet ever again.