Let’s start from the beginning: A friend of Nathalie’s from Aikido also has two cats. To give them some variety and prevent them from always being indoors (since they are strictly indoor cats), he occasionally takes them to the park. We were eager to see this, so one day we decided to join him and his cats at the park. While one cat comfortably settled in the grass, the other didn’t want to leave its carrier at all. We were curious to see how our cats would behave in the park. Yuri would probably be quite adventurous (even as a little kitten, he was very curious), but Iva could be problematic since she doesn’t handle transportation well. However, it was worth a try, and maybe Iva would eventually get used to it and no longer perceive the cat backpack as something negative. That was at least the theory.
Shortly after, we obtained two cat harnesses and regularly put them on the cats to get them used to it. At first, it was unfamiliar to them, but over time, they started walking around normally with the harnesses on, and admittedly, the harnesses were barely visible as they disappeared into their thick fur. However, the weather was still quite chilly for a while, and we wanted to wait until it was warm enough before taking the cats outside (while the Siberian cats are less affected by the cold, it still bothers us, especially Nathalie). Additionally, we wanted to take them out on a weekend day, early in the morning when there were hardly any other people in the park to minimize potential stress factors.
In June, the time had come, and we decided to give it a try. Yuri was in the cat carrier, Iva was in the cat backpack, and we brought along a picnic blanket. In addition to short leashes, about 1.5 meters long, which we mainly used for transportation and were attached to the carrier and backpack, we also had two additional leashes, each 10 meters long, to give the cats a larger radius to explore. After our previous experiences with other cats, we were curious to see how Iva and Yuri would behave in the park, and we recorded their adventures.
As seen in the video, we first let Yuri out. This was a reward for him being so well-behaved and calm in the carrier throughout the journey. He reacted to the new situation quite calmly, though of course with a healthy dose of curiosity. On the other hand, Iva just wanted to get out of the backpack as quickly as possible and meowed loudly the whole way. However, once in the unfamiliar “freedom” of the park, she became a bit more timid and initially followed Yuri’s lead. After a short while, they both went off in different directions. We had to be careful to prevent them from getting tangled in any shrubs with their leashes, and often their long leashes would cross paths, inevitably resulting in knots that we had to untangle.
Iva gave us a little heart attack at one point when she wanted to walk further than the leash allowed and gracefully slipped out of her harness, suddenly standing there in complete freedom in the park. She had a slightly more elastic harness, and apparently, we hadn’t tightened it enough (we were afraid of making it too tight). We quickly put it back on her (fortunately, she didn’t run away) and made it a bit tighter. Yuri watched this and called out to Iva, wanting to free himself at the same time, but thankfully, his harness was secure. After the little “rescue mission,” we placed both cats on the picnic blanket and gave them some calming treats, which they gratefully accepted. This boosted Yuri’s confidence, and he strutted further away from us across the meadow towards the sidewalk, where some people and the occasional dog were walking by. It’s clear that he has no fear of people or other animals. Fortunately, the few dogs that passed by never showed any interest in the cats, or perhaps they simply didn’t notice them. On the other hand, other people would often stare at them and point in their direction, as seeing cats in a park is certainly not an everyday occurrence.
After about an hour, we packed everything up. It wasn’t exactly a “relaxing” experience for us since we had to keep a constant eye on the cats. If we were to repeat the adventure, we would probably choose a more open area in the park, like a meadow, as the risk of the cats getting into trouble with bushes or trees is too great. Additionally, we hope that an open meadow would have fewer ticks compared to the dense undergrowth. Fortunately, none of the ticks managed to get through the thick Siberian fur, but as a precaution, we checked and thoroughly brushed the cats when we got home.
Since Iva doesn’t enjoy being in the backpack, we wanted to try something that our Aikido friend had done: carrying the cat on the shoulder with a leash and walking home. At first, it went quite well, and Iva remained calm – she didn’t meow as much as she did on the way there. However, after a few hundred meters, she started to get restless and kept turning around. This was because the environment became too hectic: we had to cross a busy road and then walk through the bustling city center. We had to constantly adjust how we held her, which must have looked strange to the people in the city. Nevertheless, we would still prefer taking the cats to the park this way, as carrying the basket for a long time became quite cumbersome. This way, we could have one cat in the backpack and the other in our arms. Overall, we believe that both cats had fun because neither of them retreated or showed any signs of discomfort in the park or back at home. We’ll see when the cats will have their next outing…