Did you ever see a grown man walk a cat?
I have, and it’s the darnedest thing, both funny and sweet.
You see, Dad couldn’t deprive Festes, his beloved Maine coon cat, the fresh air, green expanse, and outdoor smells of our backyard. Yet he dared not let Festes risk a run-in with the fox who lived in the woods.
My parents had let earlier cats venture freely onto the back patio. The idea was to train Rufus, Samantha P, or Lucy to stay close by shaking a can of coins whenever they ventured near the edge. Anyone who has tried to train a cat knows how well this strategy works. (It didn’t.)
In the evenings, sometimes they showed up to the back sliding-glass door with a prize. We applauded because, until we did, the cat wouldn’t drop the mouse or chipmunk wisely playing dead.
Festes brought out our protective instincts. He looked like a warrior but had a meow like a bath toy. This was the cat who would sleep on Dad’s bed through the end, keeping watch, purring and knowing. The size of a raccoon, he was a significant presence with a heart of mush. Just like his dad.
Thus, the evening constitutional was born. Festes—showing the same spirit of cooperation with which he entered the cat carrier for a trip to the vet—allowed my father to attach the leash. Then around the yard they’d go. Cars stopped. Schoolboys pointed. Some sight they were.
Enjoy our cover story, “50 Things Your Vet Won’t Tell You.” Whether you’re a cat person or a dog person (we’re both at Reader’s Digest), the story is full of stuff you need to know—and didn’t know you needed to know—about your family furball.
What it doesn’t tell you (because it doesn’t have to) is how much you’ll love each other.