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Deadwyler column: Walking the cat

Yep, I walk my cat, outside, with a halter harness and a leash. It wasn’t because of misbehavior like Katie Scarvey wrote in one of her columns, “You don’t want your cat thinking outside the (litter) box.”
I have two cats. I walk the less timid one, Tailight. He’s an all black cat except for a splash of white on the tip of his tail.
I moved to my current address so I could have pets. I set out to obtain one small kitten, but Anne Ingram (The Faithful Friends Animal Sanctuary angel) charmingly slow-talked me into two lanky year-old adolescent cat brothers. I’m delighted she did. They’re my family.
For my cat walking tether I selected the “Come With Me Kitty” brand name harness and bungee leash. A harness is a lot better than a collar around a cat’s sensitive neck, otherwise the cat’s little pin head is liable to pop out of the collar when you guide him with the leash.
Kittens apparently take to the harness system a lot easier than adult cats do. It took about a week before Tailight could tolerate it, but then he really enjoyed going out on my un-enclosed front porch slab. But at first, he wouldn’t budge from the porch out onto the lawn. That is until one day he spied a rabbit halfway up the yard. Then instinct kicked in and he took off across the lawn after that rabbit ó just like the proverbial scalded dog.
Back on the leash, he was desirous of guiding me around our yard and I would dutifully follow him.
Then the big day came. I put him in the car and took him, leash, harness and all, to Fulton Heights Centennial Park. (I had originally intended to name this article, “I meet the nicest people walking my cat,” but Tailight had other ideas.)
It was early in the morning and no one else was in the park. He was very interested in the new scenery and tried to lead me into the woods where doubtless I would find poison ivy. So I guided him back into the park proper where fully 25 feet away a yapping little poodle and his owner entered the park. Tailight freaked, as he tried to escape the leash. So I picked him up and took him to the car, sustaining several scratches from a still panicked cat.
Anne Ingram rescued Tailight and his brother from an abandoned trailer park where they were periodically shot at and abused, so Tailight is naturally skittish and “gun shy.”
That is, unless there’s a window between him and the hapless mail carrier. When the mail arrives, Tailight jumps against the window pane growling and clawing against the glass. Mike, my postal carrier, just waves mail at him and says “nice kitty.”
Tailight and I still enjoy walking in the front yard; I’d like to end this with a rhyme by my middle school friend, and poet, Caroline Merrick. The Cat
In the dreary dark of the dying light
A prowler creeps through the night.
The leaves are wrinkled where he stands
And shadows fall upon the land.
The prowler creeps through the house
And then he feasts upon a mouse.
But when the light rises and you’re bustling around
You’ll find the cat not up, but down.
Hugh Deadwyler lives in Salisbury.

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