Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cat Cardio...when your exercise plan isn't happening, get one going for your cat

January 2, 2010

Cat Cardio

We have many varieties of pound pets in our household, for which I willingly provide comfort, care and crunchies and that’s what I signed on for. I accept that. I expect that. What I didn’t expect was to become our cat’s personal trainer, providing her with exercise by virtue of any domestic animal’s most hated instrument of torture: the vacuum cleaner. But first, please humor me as I provide you with a little bit of history at this juncture.
The cat’s name is Loralei. Yes, taken from the popular WB show, “The Gilmore Girls,” and while it is a pretty moniker, all of us veteran cat lovers know how fun it is to yodel these highbrow names into the great outdoors when we all know the cat is going to ignore us anyway, only deigning to possibly respond when we finally scream in frustration, “Herreeeeeee kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty -- whoa -- kitty -- get your furry carcass in here!”
We adopted Loralei from the pound several years back because my daughter left me notes in every conceivable place -- I do believe I found one in my bra -- making one simple request, “I want a cat.” “Cat” written with a backward “a” and “want” sporting the inclusion of an “h.” We all have a breaking point and mine was when I was finding more “I want a cat” notes in the cushions, than change. Our three dogs would just have to cope. It was time to do what any structured, strong and stern parent would do. I caved and got the kid a cat.
The cat wasn’t home for twenty-four hours when the scratch she laid on my arm let me know how opposed to vacuuming she really was. To my animals’ mutual dismay, I vacuum daily and that’s when the real fun begins and ends, though it has allowed me to devise the “Here Are Your Options”TM cat exercise program that will be, no doubt, sweeping the nation. In fact, I will be copywriting this program just as soon as I get this all written down for you.
The program, and attendant exercise program, begins by making a great deal of noise as you methodically remove the vacuum cleaner from its very specific, specially designed area. It’s important the vacuum cleaner be put back in its exact same correct location every time you use it – may I suggest our rather unique and easy placement, just inside the front door where everyone in the family is guaranteed to trip over it 24/7.
The next step is to provide an anticipatory set, as we say in the teaching game, by introducing the game plan to the feline. Engage your kitty by asking her firmly, but respectfully, “Would you like to go outside?” in a voice that is a few decibels above the level you would use when asking your Granny if she needs to go to the bathroom before she sets foot in your brand new car with the snazzy leather interior. “You staying or going?” is a good starting point for this questioning technique.
Please be aware that el gato, being a highly intelligent animal upon whom every nuance is imprinted, is easily distracted; therefore, one false move could get the feline off her game, so to speak. Focus is important. Thus, you must then firmly tell the cat which room you’re going into first, so she can immediately dart right in there, commencing with her pre-exercise kitty cardio warm-up. Once you begin the hoovering, as they say in Britain, you must persevere until the finish line, otherwise your kitty will prematurely and unhealthily end the work-out before the cool down, which consists of the winding up of the cord, but we’ll get to that soon enough.
As you casually remove the instrument of torture from the hallway, note that it’s normal for the furry princess to pretend not to notice what is about to transpire because she failed to take advantage of the most logical one which is to head outside. Slowly and methodically hoover in, around, and out of each room, lovingly reassuring the cat that “Everything is fine. What is with you? Have I sucked you up yet? Where do you think you’re going now?” as your cat gallops from surface to surface, just in front of the machine, making tracks through each and every blessed room. Ah, but where would the fun or exercise be if she would have taken advantage of her earlier ability to bolt into the great outdoors?
You are now ready for the final phase of this successful and mutually beneficial exercise program. The cool down. The cool down is crucial, although one is often tempted to shave off these precious seconds, in order to quickly transition to the next task household goddesses everywhere welcome – throwing away any food in the kitchen that predates the purchase of the house. But please be aware that the cool down segment of the program sees a great deal of kitty upper body work as she attempts to “help you” with a one-two boxing motion with her non-declawed mitts as you wind up the cord.
At the end of the experience, and, again, I can’t stress this enough, after the cord wrapping cool down, it’s to be expected that you will be as winded as your cat, who will NOW run to the door, wanting out, to which you should respond in a loving, caring and compassionate way, “Oh, sure NOW you want to go outside. Good timing. That’s gratitude for ya. Well, go ahead!” as she feels the sharp wind of the closing door on her hindquarters.
Your cat will exit much more fit than she would have been, say, if you had hardwood floors or enough money for a housecleaning service. Additionally, you possess the personal satisfaction of knowing that you’ve provided a valuable service.

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