One of the places some urban cats go is on therapy cat visits. Rainy is one of those special cats.
Tell us a bit about your urban adventure cat!
Rainy is our family’s adventure cat! She turned four this past fall.
A friend of ours found her after a rain storm. Our friend has five dogs and so couldn’t keep her. She contacted me to see if I knew anyone who could foster or adopt. My husband and I had always wanted the experience of caring for a kitten, so agreed to foster Rainy through our local no-kill cat shelter. Within a few days of Rainy being with us, we had fallen in love with her. But we were determined to not foster-fail and tried to ignore our feelings. When we saw that Rainy was making inroads with our other two less social cats, due to her stubbornness, we applied to adopt her.
From the start, Rainy has been unflappable. About the only thing that scares her are loud noises. Rainy is also extremely affectionate. As a kitten she would sleep on my chest and follow me most everywhere. Now she curls up next to me at night and still rarely lets me out of her sight. She’s just as friendly with other people, which makes her a natural as a therapy cat. Training Rainy has been easy due to her being food-motivated. Almost every day we work on obedience and agility training together.
How did you get started going places with Rainy?
Rainy’s personality dictates our adventures. For years, my husband and our dog took agility classes and even competed. Inspired by them, I taught our first cat some agility basics. She liked it enough that I’ve taught agility to our other cats, including Rainy.
For a time, I thought Rainy and I might attend classes and compete. We even visited a nearby shelter where we practiced agility. That’s when I discovered that as extroverted as Rainy is, she would need more exposure to strange people and new situations for her to be comfortable performing in public.
As part of Rainy’s socialization, I decided that we might as well put all this training to use, and so I applied with Love on a Leash for us to become a certified cat therapy team. Finding places for Rainy to visit as a therapy cat proved a lot easier than finding places for her to do agility. We also discovered the bliss of bringing happiness to seniors, and so we’ve focused on being a cat-therapy team. To this end, we regularly seek out new ways to improve our social skills, which includes going on adventures.
Where do you and Rainy go together?
If Rainy had been raised by an adventurous owner, she might now be more like adventures more. As it is, with an introverted writer as her owner, she takes a timid approach to adventure. She likes exploring our neighborhood and nearby parks from the safety of a pet stroller. At times, we’ll meet children who always want to pet her and ask me questions about cats. Rainy also enjoys visiting pet-friendly businesses. Usually when we visit a store, we end up meeting someone who used to own cats or would like to own a cat and is happy to meet Rainy.
It’s been fun for my husband and I to take our dog and Rainy to restaurants with outdoor seating. Our pets enjoy coaxing for food while taking in all the new sights and sounds, while Andy and I getting to dine out in the company of our pets.
Rainy isn’t keen on walking on leash outdoors but prefers the safety of her stroller. On an outing to the park this summer we put our dog and Rainy on a boulder to pose for photos. Slowly, Rainy began to shrink back towards a comforting bush. I stopped her before she disappeared into it. For the rest of the walk, we kept her in the stroller. This made all of us happy!
Do you and Rainy have favorite places to go together?
Rainy has a few favorite destinations. She coaxes daily at our basement door for me to take her down to our basement agility course. After our other cats have taken their turns, I pull out their toys and we all hang out. Rainy enjoys joining my husband and I for meals at his parents’ place. She likes to explore the upstairs rooms, roll around on the carpet, and coax for food in the dining room. When I take Rainy on cat-therapy visits, she knows which room is next on our route and will dart into each one eagerly. She receives lots of attention, lets me show them how I care for cats, and shows off her tricks.
How to people you meet while out on your adventures with your cat respond?
Reactions to Rainy in public have been mixed. Neighborhood children will congregate around her and share stories of their pets. When we visit businesses and restaurants, most people don’t even seem to notice that I have a cat in a stroller. Inevitably, we’ll meet at least one person who asks to pet Rainy and seems happier for meeting her. These encounters make our day! The seniors whom Rainy and I visit always look forward to holding her. One lady told me that her migraine disappeared after she petted Rainy. Others call her their favorite cat. A special moment was when we met a staff person who didn’t like cats. Rainy was so friendly she couldn’t resist petting her, and she found Rainy well-behaved. She was impressed with Rainy’s tricks and asked to record video of her. Now there’s at least one cat she likes!
What have you learned by getting out on adventures with your cat?
Rainy has showed me that having a relationship with a cat is like having a relationship with a person. To have a bond with Rainy, I need to spend time with her. I also need to get to know her moods and quirks, her likes and dislikes, and everything else about her. It frustrates me how little time some people spend with their cats and how undervalued cats are, when cats are such deeply interesting creatures.
I’ve noticed that my relationships with my cats are different, just as I have different relationships with different people. Rainy wants to sit with me, play with me, and sleep with me. She accepts my picking her up, rubbing her tummy, and grooming her. And going on adventures keeps her from being bored. In contrast, I have a cat who craves her independence but also wants to know we’re in the room. And I have another cat who hates to be picked up but does love to curl up on my lap. It irks me that cats are labeled as standoffish and moody. Cats are more complicated than that. If people would take the time to observe and hang out with cats, they’d discover that a rich relationship awaits them.
See more of Rainy!