Some of you met me at BlogPaws and were delighted by how outgoing, friendly and relaxed I was, even though I was far from home and surrounded by people and dogs. My ability to be comfortable at the conference, at cat shows, and other public places was not an accident. How did I get this way? It comes down to five things, and all but one of them can be helped along by a good human! Let’s look at them one by one.
- I was born this way.
This is what humans can’t control, at least not very much. My parents are actually known for having kittens with great temperaments, but even so, not every one of their kittens was as outgoing as me. Only a few of us. The rest still have great temperaments, but are more comfortable at home, so they lead private lives.
- My outgoing nature was nurtured.
As a kitten, I got a load of enrichment — lots of human interaction, car rides, outings, and I was just a few days past four months old when I started doing cat shows. If I had just stayed home, I would have wound up like any other cat — a happy, fun companion in the house, but scared whenever I had to go anywhere. When it was discovered that I enjoyed being out in public, I got to do more of it, and when my human brought me home, she kept finding new adventures for me, like going to the L.A. Feline Film Festival, and traveling long distances to cat shows where we had to stay in hotels. Every time I was introduced to something new, I was carefully watched to make sure I wasn’t going too far outside of my comfort zone.
- I am rewarded for good behavior.
My human is fortunate that I am highly food motivated, so she always keeps small treats onhand when we are doing something outside of the house — or even sometimes in the house. For example, when she first put a harness on me, the first thing she did once it was on was to offer me a treat, and then she played with me. It was easy to forget that I was even wearing a harness! I also often get a treat during and when I return from outings, so I always have a good feeling about them.
- I am taken out frequently, and consistently.
If my human only took me outside in the front yard once a month and nothing else, I would soon become housebound. But she takes me out a lot — sometimes in the neighborhood, sometimes to the pet store, and she tries to take me on a bigger adventure at least twice a month. It can be a cat show, or a conference like BlogPaws, or soon, I’m hoping to start visiting places to do therapy work. We also have a little routine — she says it is to keep me “grounded.” I know a few tricks, like doing High Five, Stay, and Sit Up (I’m still working on the latter — right now I’m still too grabby with my paws). So when we are somewhere new, noisy or potentially stressful, she will often have me do these familiar tricks so I realize I have nothing to fear… and I get a treat reward! People in airports and hotel lobbies are always impressed by my tricks, and they don’t even realize that doing them is helping me stay calm.
- I trust my human implicitly.
I couldn’t go anywhere and feel secure unless I knew that my human was watching out for me and keeping me safe. This is very important because when a kitty is in a strange place, it can be very scary! But my human always reassures me and when she thinks I have had enough of being in any situation, she will put me in my carrier and take me home or back to my hotel room. She is always monitoring me, and I can tell she won’t push me farther than I am comfortable. While she can’t anticipate everything, she makes sure that if there is something that might upset or startle me — a passing car, a dog, or a loud noise — that she is holding me firmly, or has put me in my sling or carrier. She does her best to make our outings fun too. Because I trust my human, I know I can be braver than the average kitty.
I would love to see more kittens and cats given the opportunity to get out of the house and enjoy fun activities! So if a kitty happens to come into your life that seems to be born more outgoing, please nurture that quality. You’ll get big rewards!