Therapy Cat Series: A Cat Meet-Up at the Farmer’s Market

It was a beautiful October day at the Sunday Farmer’s Market at Union College. Erica and I met up around noon with our cats to see the sights. We greeted each other with smiles, while our two cats hissed at each other through their pet transport backpacks.

Vendor tents lined two blocks offering plenty of fresh produce, warm food, and tasty sweets. Erica checked out vegetables, while I kept my eye open for a dessert to bring home. Every few minutes we stopped to answer questions about our cats from patrons at the Farmer’s Market.

Patrons were full of curiosity. They wanted to know if our cats liked being outside. Each time, I proudly replied that Rainy is a certified therapy cat; she enjoys meeting new people and going new places. She’s also used to being exposed to all kinds of new situations. Although Erica’s cat is waiting to do her certification until she’s more mature, Penelope too is a social cat. She often joins Erica and her husband on lake trips.

One question led to another. Patrons also wanted to know if our cats liked their pet transport backpacks and how we trained them to use them. Both backpacks were ordered online by Erica. She said that training a cat to accept a backpack is a matter of getting the cat used to it and gave a brief explanation. First, leave the backpack lying around the main living area of the house for the cat to sniff and become comfortable with. Next, open the backpack so the cat can get in it to explore whenever it wants to. Then carry the cat around the house inside the closed backpack. And finally take the cat on outings, starting with short ones. At each step, one should reinforce their cat with treats. As a result of slowly training our cats in this way, both Rainy and Penelope view their backpacks as safe places.

Patrons treated us almost like celebrities. One lady asked to take our photo. She explained, “I’ve seen cats in backpacks on the internet but never in real life.” Another lady wanted to know if we knew of Nola the traveling “cat, which she follows on Instagram. (I do.) Both Erica and I used the opportunity to point out that our cats also have Instagram accounts. More than once during our leisurely stroll through the Farmer’s Market, Erica pulled out her phone to show people Penelope’s Instagram account. While it was great to draw positive attention to cats, it will also be nice when cats in backpacks are viewed as normal as dogs on leashes.

The Sunday Farmer’s Market at Union College is a small and comfortable venue. Erica and I walked through it in less than an hour. We met and petted a few dogs, none of whom seemed to realize that we had cats with us. We ran into a few friends and used the opportunity to get a photo taken together. Both of us also took photos and Erica took a selfie of us to share online of our outing together. Before leaving, we also made a few purchases. The rhubarb crumble was a popular item, and we both brought slices to bring home to family.

Both Rainy and Penelope enjoyed their visit to the Sunday’s Farmer Market. What are you doing with YOUR cat today?

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