One of the best and most challenging things about taking cats outside is their incredible alertness. We get used to our feline companions lounging and snoozing besides us at home, and forget that every bit of their little brains and bodies is actually rigged to form the perfect hunting machine. Aífe can spend hours being a blob beside my desk, but the second she’s out on the sidewalk, she transforms into a different creature – one to whom any smell, sound, or movement could signal a potential danger.
Walking with a cat, you realize that you and your pet have very different perceptions of the World Outside. Part of this is that, as a human, you will be able to make sense of things like words and traffic lights. But part of it is that your human and feline selves are equipped with very different sensory inputs. According to bestselling author/ veterinarian John Bradshaw, cats have olfactory powers similar to that of dogs, and so:
“their world, unlike ours, is not based on appearance. Smell is at least as important to cats as vision is, so even if they could imagine, they might well conjure what something smells like rather than what it looks like.”
Which explains why, when I see just a crappy old tarp, Aífe perceives something that inquires a thorough investigation. And why sometimes Aífe becomes terribly agitated, hissing and swatting at the air around her, even though I can’t see anything but a very peaceful, empty garden.Read More