Thursday, 15 April 2010

A Mabel Mystery

We had a Mabel mystery this week.
It was such a lovely weekend that we decided she might like to venture outside for a sniff and an explore.
I popped to the pet shop and bought her a harness and a lead. I was worried she wouldn't let me put it on her but she enjoyed the attention and it went on straight away. She even seemed to lift her legs to help!
Then the mysterious bit happened... she lied down!

Whenever she had the harness (or even half of it) on she lied down. It doesn't seem to be a 'don't like it' lie down because she never struggles to get out of it or scratches at it.
She seems quite happy to have it on, almost too happy. It just seems to make her sleepy! Even when the harness is off she rolls on it and likes to like on it.

The second attempt was much the same. I checked that it wasn't too tight and that no fur was trapped in it and still she lied there, wanting cuddles. We picked her up and put her gently in the garden by the door. We thought she might forget her sleepiness once she had the outside world to sniff at but after just a few minutes of sitting still she lied down again. 
That put an end to her first experience of the big wide world.

We are completely stumped. Can anyone shed any light on why she might be doing this?


  1. No, I don't know *why* they do it, but some cats do. Maybe it feels like a threat, an attack, and they play dead. Sort of. LOL. I wouldn't give up on it, though. I would leave it on her while inside with her, not making any attempt to get her out. Just leave it on for a few hours. I'd just do that for as long as it takes for her to be accustomed to it. Mom and her hubby used to put their cat's harness on in the morning and it would stay on all day, as Smokey would go in and out on her leash. One of my co-worker's cats has her harness on during the day too.

    I used to harness Annie when she was younger, and did take her for walks on occasion, though I don't do that now.

    I'm sure someone with lots of experience will chime in, but my feeling is just to keep putting it on inside, as I've said, with no concern about letting her out at this time.

  2. I checked with my co-worker and it's just the feel of the harness on them when they move that they don't like, it's not a "I'm caught and better play dead" thing. LOL. She also says keep the harness on her indoors for as long as it takes, THEN attach the leash indoors and let her drag it around until she's used to it, and only then take her out. Good luck!

  3. We don't use a harness at our house (the cats don't go out) but I have heard of the lying down thing. I did a quick google search and cats section gave basically the same instructions that Kea mentioned as a way to get them used to it. It also added a couple things but I think the laying down thing is pretty common at first.

  4. Good advice from Kea and Amy...Also, Mabel is just a total sweetheart!!...Have a great day.

  5. Hi
    When we wanted our dog to wear boots outside because he had an environmental allergy we used to have him wear baby socks around the house first to get him used to having something on his feet before taking him out. I think the advice you have been given is good. Baby steps.
    Good luck. She is really lovely. Deb

  6. Seems like everyone has you covered. I agree that in the house where she feels safe is the best place to get her comfy with the feel of the harness.

    One thing you might want to keep in mind is that longer haired cats can sometimes get hair pulls with little thin harnesses.

    When I posted about Squashies discomfort with her harness our friends over at Everycat ( suggested we get one of the new wide harnesses. This definitely made her more comfortable.

    We are so glad to hear that you and Mabel are doing well.

  7. I am lucky, I have a cat door and can come and go as I please, so I don't know anything about harnesses. Seems though you have been given great advice.

    Poppy and Mum Q

  8. We don't go out, but Meowm used to take Junior out on a leash and harness. He slipped his harness one day and disappeared for several hours...and he hasn't been back outside since (plus part of his adoption agreement was for him to be an indoor cat only). Meowm has been flirting with the idea of a cat stroller....this way both of us can go out and see and smell the world, and still be safely contained.

    We hope the leash and harness work out for Mabel and you. She sure is a purrty girl!