Why I don’t take Victor out on a leash
After you have seen me walking Ronja outside on a leash, some of you are wondering if Victor is going outside too. Here's your answer.
When you adopt a deaf cat from a Danish shelter they always say that the cat should be an indoor cat, possibly with access to a catio and/or walks on a leash. They all recommend that you don't just let a deaf cat walk outside freely as this can be very dangerous. (Of course, depending on the cat and the area you live in, you might be able to pull it off anyway). I always ment for Ronja and Victor to be indoor cats and it wasn't untill recently that I got serious about the idea of taking them out on a leash. However I always knew that I would probably only be taking out Ronja.
Handicat or handicable?
Some deaf cats are more brave because there's no sounds to startle them. This is how Ronja is reacting to the lack of hearing. Other deaf cats gets easily spooked and feel more insecure because of this disability. They find the world to be a scary place, where they struggle to feel safe even in their own homes sometimes. They are always afraid there's something sneaking up behind them and they tend to hide when they sleep. This is the type of deaf cat Victor is.
Cat with anxiety
Victor is a very sensitive cat who gets scared if there's a new smell in the house. He might even attack Ronja or myself if he can't figure out what the smell is. He doesn't always recognize us when we put on a hat or glasses and runs away and hides. He can be jumpy all day if something seems off to him and he will hide under the bed a lot. He is curious about visitors and wants to smell them, but he will not let strangers touch him. Babies are particularly scary to him. If we have had a visitor over who maybe smells of other pets, he can be spooked for the rest of the day. My very loving boy who loves pets, then turns into a can I can't even get close to.
Needles to say he doesn't enjoy going to the vet either. He gets so scared that the vet can't examine him - or even just weigh him - so he always has to be sedated before they can do anything. He is very anxious when he gets home and it takes a while for him to feel safe again. It always a very traumatizing experience for him to go to the vet. The car ride there doesn't seem to bother him for some reason.
If something falls on to the floor and he feels it but doesn't see it, he will start spinning around himself to find out what it was. Some days I don't even know what is causing his bad nerves. He just seems spooked and very easily gets startled and these days we tiptoe around him, trying not to make him upset.
It's not that Victor isn't curious on the outdoors. He is in fact a very curious cat and I'm sure if I opened the door it wouldn't take him long to go outside to explore. After all he is a male cat ment to wander. But I know he wouldn't last long out there so close to the big roads, not being able to hear the cars or other animals.
If you have never handled anxious cat before or have tried to walk a cat on a leash, I can understand why it can be difficult to see the risk that it is. But walking a deaf cat is nothing like walking a dog and it is crucial that the cat is calm in order for the human to be in control. Imagine walking a very small tiger. It won't eat you, but it can do some serious damage to itself and to you and possibly get away, because it is very strong and fast. They are powerful little creatures and should not be underestimated. And Victor can change personality and mood in a second.
I do not feel confident bringing a cat with anxiety outside - even on a leash - because he is unstable and unpredictable when he doesn't feel in control. I cannot hold him, when he wants something while he is calm at home, so I do not want to find out how that would go down if he panics on strange territory confined to a leash. The leash isn't his favourite thing either and I doubt that would make it better, cause he doesn't like to feel cornered. Maybe, just maybe, if this was trained while he was very little it could be done. But who knows.
I believe there is a very high risk of taking a such as Victor outside and have never planned to do so. Ronja copes a lot better in general and if we run into problems, I have a much greater chance of picking her up and getting her to safety. So Victor will enjoy the fresh air through the screen door and in his KittyWalk catio on the balcony. I promise you that although Victor struggles with anxiety, he still has more good days than bad.