Cats take walk with their owners because they are behaving as a developing kitten would when they follow their mother from the nest in their development towards independence. It often happens along a well-worn path or track which is known to the owner and becomes known to the cat. Please read on.
On this page there is a video of my cat taking a walk with me at about 6:15 in the morning. He follows me when I walk to the local petrol (gas) station to buy a newspaper. He’s been doing it for several years. It is a routine and cats like routines. He joins me at the front door when I am preparing to leave my house.
The occasional passerby is out and about at that time and they might remark that my cat is amazing. That’s nice of them but it is untrue because for my cat it is entirely instinctive as emotionally and psychologically he is behaving as a kitten in following his mother from the natal nest during their development to become independent.
The development of a kitten towards independence
During a kitten’s development in the wild, the mother has to ensure that they are secure when they leave the nest as they become fully mobile. It might be the first time that they have ventured out. The mother will slow her pace for them to keep a close eye on them as they amble along near her. But she will not let them get too far from their home base.
Also, in my case, my cat follows me to a certain point in terms of distance from the front door of my home. This is typical as well. It is the point at which he feels insecure about leaving his home range and therefore stops and waits. I carry on to buy the newspaper about half a mile away and then on my return I pick him up as he has hidden under a bush or car and we go home.
It is entirely instinctive that my cat follows me like this as he perceives me as his mother. Our bond is particularly close because I raised him from a tiny kitten. This is more likely to result in an adult cat perceiving their owner as their mother and it reinforces the perception from the adult cat’s point of view that they are living with their feline mother and psychologically they are part-kitten. The human is a pseudo-mother to put it another way.
The default relationship between caregiver and cat is one of mother to her kitten
The default relationship between adult domestic cat and human caregiver is essentially one of kitten to adult feline mother. But not all adult cats follow their owner which is why I believe there has to be the special bond which will be in place if the relationship starts off when the cat is a tiny kitten of several weeks of age.
Video of my cat following me when I buy the newspaper in the early hours of the morning before breakfast
Walking on a leash
It is very different when you walk your cat on a leash. What I’m mentioning above is a cat following freely and willingly. To walk a cat on a lead you have to train them and often their first instinct is to flop down and do nothing because the harness tends to create a “floppy-cat syndrome”. But domestic cats can be trained to walk on a lead. It just takes time but it has nothing to do with kitten development and becoming independent.
Some articles on mothering:
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