Therapy Cat Series: Rainy’s Spring Adventures

A backyard adventure! An outing to PetSmart! Visitors to see agility! After a long cold winter, Rainy and I have been looking forward to spending time together outside of the house. Wet weather has hindered us somewhat, but we have gotten out twice. We also continue to visit seniors. Of course, when stuck inside, there are still options for entertainment. For example, over the winter, a few friends of mine came to see Rainy do agility. People find it amazing that cats can do this, but I hope day it becomes the norm.

In early April, Andy and I took advantage of the mild spring weather to take two of our cats outside in the backyard. What follows is Rainy’s account of it on Instagram:

To get Cinder and I used to going outside, Mom first took us each separately by leash on our deck. She let us see the sights and sniff the smells. Then she rewarded us with praise and treats.

After we got used to the deck, Mom took us on the stairs. We checked out the railings and the steps. Mom rewarded us again with praise and treats.

Then Mom brought us into the yard itself. Cinder and I enjoyed eating grass and rolling in leaves. Mom says I caught on faster to being outside, because of all the outings and therapy work we do together.

Once Cinder and I were used to the yard, Dad treated us each to a swing ride. We both found the experience scary but fun. We trust Dad and know that he’ll always keep us safe.

Dad wrapped his one hand around the swing and his other hand around me. He stepped slowly backwards just a little and swung forwards slowly just a little. Soon we were going higher and higher, almost like we were flying in the air. Whee!

When we finished our swing ride, Dad let me check out the slide. He didn’t go with me and so I didn’t like it as much. I’d rather be on the ground or in Dad’s lap.

That same month, Rainy and I joined up with our friends Penelope and Erika for a visit to PetSmart. The first Saturday of every month, PetSmart holds Sample Saturdays where pet owners are invited to take their dog or cat to taste of free samples. As an added bonus, pet parents receive 100 free Treats points for attending the event. Pets must be on a leash or otherwise restrained. What follows is Rainy’s account of it on Instagram:

Therapy cats are always meeting new people and going new places. Before we ever start our work, we need lots of exposure to new situations so that we can handle them. To keep up with our training, we must continue to practice so that we remain well-qualified for our special job.

At PetSmart, Mom introduced me to the staff that were handling out the samples. She also had me greet everyone we met that was interested in seeing a cat.

Up until that point, Penelope and I hadn’t really ever met. Penelope’s mom kept her in a backpack and Mom kept me in a stroller. That day our Moms introduced us. We sniffed noses and then we hissed. Neither of us were comfortable with our new situation!

After we got our free samples, Erika and Mom walked around the store with Penelope and me. I’ve visited Petco before but never PetSmart. Mom took me to see the animals. She also let me pick out a toy mouse to bring home.

The weather has been wet since April, which has hampered us somewhat in our outings but not with our therapy work. At one senior retirement community center, Rainy and I regularly visit two seniors. A lady that we see is always cheery but also laments of boredom. There’s not much for her to do except watch television, read books, listen to music, and sleep. A gentleman that we see wavers in his moods and often is lonely. He wishes he could have a cat live with him and always loves Rainy’s weekly visits. Somedays, Rainy and I also visit seniors on another floor. They like to see animals too. One time, a gentleman requested that he have breakfast later in the day just so he could see Rainy! Sadly, Rainy and I are still the only cat therapy team.

Once a month since January, friends of mine have visited to see Rainy’s performance as an agility cat. The visitors have been adults and young people, all of whom had no idea how talented cats can be. Rainy races through tunnels, soar over jumps and through hoops, and weaves through poles. Except for my throwing a treat into the tunnels, Rainy performs all of these tricks with the goal of a treat when she’s finished a course. After visitors applaud her performance, I explain that all of the obstacles can be home-made or purchased for an economical price at local stores. As with therapy, Rainy and I would love to see more cats pursuing agility.

Life is rather chaotic right now for our household with my new job, our foster kittens, and my new cat business. Finding time for outings has been difficult, but I always make time for our pets to do agility with me. I’ve also been collecting ideas for some new games to play with them, and will at some point them here. if you have any questions about cat therapy, agility, or behavior, please comment on this post or email me at: allisontalkspets@gmail.com

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