It seems that adventure cats exploring urban landscapes are more common in Australia than they are in the States. Alfie explores some of the beautiful cafes, parks, and even beaches with his human, and we have the opportunity to learn more about him.
Tell us a little bit about your adventure cat!
Alfie is the Diva Catsanova & Attention Sponge). Alfie just turned one but as a Bengal won’t reach full maturity until 18-24 months. He loves the limelight but is very particular about who can touch him and how. He likes doing things that makes people laugh and becomes mortified if people don’t pay him attention when we’re out.
Several times now, if people walk past him at the beach and they ignore him he will make it a point to go up to them, circle them until they acknowledge his “greatness”. It’s really funny to watch. And if anyone comes over excited he has this expression of “mum get these people away from me!” And if people touch him without asking he’ll probably give them the soft mouth and squinty eyes. That’s why I call him the Diva Catsanova.
How did you get started going places with your cat?
I’ve always had dogs so the concept of not taking a pet out with me is more foreign, than doing so. While cats are not dogs, they do get attached to their owners, enjoy the sun and nature. So I knew it was just about training and socialisation as to how to do it so that it’s enjoyable for all concerned.
Once I was sure we had bonded, I took him out on our third day together to my local and favourite beach which is often times secluded. He loved sand the moment he felt it underneath his paws. I knew then and there this would be his happy place too, so take him at least once a week now. Because he’s pretty needy and loves attention I started training him to go to other places he may not necessarily like (or at least at first) – because he is a nervous cat – so he gets to be with me as much as possible. Some places he’d rather me leave him at home than go, and some he’d like to come. He’s learnt the names of most places, and sometimes I give him the choice to come or not. Each fist represents a yes/ no and he rubs on the fist to tell me what he wants. Or when the harness comes out he runs under the bed… that’s an obvious no thank you.
Where do you go with your cat?
Beach, cafe, park, pub, shopping centres, markets… pretty much anywhere a pet can go. I do limit sporting events or festivals because the crowds are too much for him. I don’t like crowds that size myself and when we’re out we do get a lot of people flocking to us. I’d like to take him to our local dog park that is attached to a beach, but am working him up to that very slowly. There are a lot of things to consider and train for. Especially dogs who are may not be cat friendly and how to manage that.
Do you have a favorite destination to visit with Alfie?
Secret beach. It’s local, both our happy places and the first place we went together. It is also a place we encourage other owners in Sydney to go with their cats if they wanted to test if their cats would take to the beach as it protected by cliffs, mostly empty, vast and away from cars (although dogs are not allowed here lots of locals DO bring their dogs unleashed). Although my cat is unleashed I always recommend others leash their cats because I don’t want to be held accountable (although I shouldn’t be for other people’s choices and training abilities but the world is weird sometimes) for people losing their pets when they are training them.
How to people you meet while out with your cat respond?
It’s a mixture. Usually a little shocked and delighted. Some point and laugh. Some take photos – it’s funny when I see people try to take a stealth shot. The only negative reaction I ever get is from dog owners who have their dogs off the leash or their dogs are pulling very hard on the leash to get to Alfie and they don’t have cat friendly dogs. Owners are not expecting a cat and they know there are real consequences if something happens so it’s a little scary for them. I’ve handled aggressive dogs growing up, and I know how the animal reacts is 99% down to how you handle the situation so am usually calm when faced with those situations.
Mostly I’d say it’s 95% positive. Rarely are people indifferent. I do get a lot of “I hate cats normally, but yours is cool,” which is a shame. There’s a lot adventure cats can do to help change the perceptions of cats to people, and that excites me. Cats simply aren’t subservient. They demand respect and that’s what I like about them. You have to check yourself when dealing with a cat.
What have you learned by getting out with your cat?
That there is so little I actually know about cats. Or all animals in general. They have so much potential if only we give them the opportunity to show us how amazing they are. Although I’ve had pets all my life and have always been fascinated with animals, it’s cats that made me rethink all animal’s potential. We put so much limiting beliefs on them and on ourselves. Alfie’s a nervous and skittish cat, yet he is able to do things lots of people told me can’t be done and continues to amaze me all the time. He shines most when I ignore the conventional wisdom. I’m very excited to be on this journey with Alfie and to learn more.