Cat training inspiration - Luna
Luna lives in paradise in Bermuda, visiting the beach, watching turtles and showing that cats are capable of anything!
We asked her mum, Katrina to tell us about her.
Tell us the story of how Luna came into your family.
We were looking for a low allergen cat breed as several people in my family have allergies. After lots of internet research, we found the Russian Blue breed. We liked that they are known to be intelligent and sweet and that though they are attached to their humans, most aren’t super clingy. Since we were only getting one cat and work full time, we wanted to get a breed that could entertain itself for a little while without getting depressed or up to too much mischief.
We live in Bermuda and there are no Russian Blue breeders here, so we knew we would have to import a cat. Bermuda also has very strict regulations for pet importation. We can only get kittens directly from a select few countries that don’t have rabies. So the search began and we settled on England because there is a direct flight and we thought that would be the best option for the kitten.
I communicated with a few breeders before I found one I liked. She also happened to have a litter a few weeks old and not all of the kittens had been claimed. We messaged, talked on the phone and video chatted, which helped us to get a feel for each other. My brother lives in London and we agreed he would go and meet the breeder and kittens so we could decide for sure. He sent photos and videos and we all fell in love with Luna.
What is the story behind Luna’s name?
We tend to like nature names for pets, so went through a range of options connected to grey, silver and green things in nature. Luna was a front runner because of the moon, because we thought she’d grow up to be elegant and because Luna is the Goddess of the hunt and of animals. Misty was a close second because she was a really light silver as a kitten with cute wispy fur.
We called her Luna Misty for a while and decided we would see which name fit once she got home. She responded to Luna more and I think it’s a perfect fit. Also, once we got her pedigree, we found out that several generations of her ancestors have Silver Moon in their names.
What kind of exploring do you do with Luna?
Luna loves being out in nature!
She loves quiet trails the best, where she can sniff plants and climb trees. We also go kayaking and she is learning to boogie board. We have tried some urban adventures and are looking to do more of that as Luna gets more comfortable around strangers.
Why did you train Luna to explore with you?
Most cats in Bermuda are outdoor or indoor/outdoor cats. My childhood cat was an outdoor cat too. However, I was nervous about Luna being outside alone, as there are cars and quite a lot of outside cats and dogs in our neighborhood.
I also didn’t want to deprive her of her natural environment by making her a completely indoor cat. I didn’t know that catexploring was a thing but stumbled across cats on leashes in my research. I thought that would be the best compromise between an indoor and outdoor cat and had a harness waiting for Luna when she arrived.
How do you explore with Luna?
Luna is harness trained and she also has a backpack. She prefers to walk when it’s quiet but stays in her backpack when there are lots of people. Bermuda is tiny, so we don’t go in the car for long trips, but she is trained to stay in her backpack for short car rides. She also has a life jacket for when we kayak.
Where are your favourite places to go?
Luna loves quiet nature trails. She also likes exploring the rocks by the water and the dock. There is an island close to our house that she loves exploring too.
How do you pick where to go with Luna?
Since Luna is skittish around new people, I look for some of the smaller, less popular parks or go at a time where most people are working. I also avoid the parks that I know a lot of dogs go to.
For indoor places, I usually call ahead and ask if they are pet friendly.
How do you introduce Luna to a new situation or location?
In new locations, I always bring Luna in the backpack and let her decide when to get out. She’s quite bold in nature and she’s very curious, so she normally hops out quickly. She takes a bit more time to decide during indoor adventures but I just follow her lead.
I do believe that exposure is important, though, so I try to push her boundaries a little by taking her to new places and exposing her to new situations or situations she doesn’t love.
I don’t expect her to like everything we encounter while exploring but I don’t want her to be scared.
So she sometimes has to go into a shop with strange humans (in the safety of her backpack) and I have carried her past the neighbor mowing their lawn and we did walk to see a big wave even though she was unsure of it.
The more we do little things that are hard for her, the easier it gets and the more confident and comfortable she gets.
She conquered her dislike of wind after only a few walks in light wind and totally shocked me by asking to walk during strong wind and staying out in it!
I also explore with her almost every day, so I’m pretty good at judging how and when to give her a little push and when to retreat to the comfort zone.
Have you had a scary/difficult situation while exploring with Luna?
When we were relatively new to catexploring, I took Luna to explore a fort. I usually explore alone with her, but this time my sister came along. At this point, Luna normally walked pretty sedately, so I was chatting with my sister and wasn’t giving her my full attention.
Luna got excited about something and started bounding in the grass and rebounding off trees (which she had never done before) and her leash popped out of my hand. I was freaking out and running to catch the leash, which Luna thought was a great game.
Luckily my sister was calmer than me and walked the other way and grabbed the leash from behind. My heart still pounds when I think about that moment, though we can also laugh at me diving through the grass to try to get the leash.
Lesson learned: always keep Luna as the focus, even when walking with others.
I read in a Catexplorer post that someone uses a regular leash to tie the retractable leash to the backpack, which is a great idea that we’ve tried a few times.
I also learned to always bring treats when exploring, so I can coax her back quickly and calmly if need be. Luckily, she hasn’t had any other great escapes!
Have you come across an amazing cat-friendly business/location that we should celebrate?
Since we mostly stick to isolated nature adventures, we don’t have lots of businesses to recommend. But she has been to a few pet stores Noah’s Ark (who were very sweet and gave her treats), Pet Stop Bermuda, Paws & Claws Pet Supplies, Bermuda and she has been to restaurants at the Fairmount Southampton quite a few times in her backpack.
Thanks for making us feel welcome!
Tell us about your most memorable adventure.
Really, every adventure is different and special, even if it’s just exploring the yard. I don’t think I have a favorite.
What is Luna’s achievement that you are the proudest of?
I’m proudest of Luna’s willingness to try exploring.
At not quite a year old and 8 months home, she has done so much!
She can walk on a leash, she can kayak, she can swim!
Pretty much every nature adventure I’ve thrown at her, she has taken in her stride.
She has also come so far with the things that scare her and I’m so proud when I see her choosing to trust me despite her own reservations.
I’m also totally impressed with how well she does with tricks (shake paws, high five, up, down, jump etc.).
She’s just the best!
What has been the most rewarding thing about exploring with Luna?
Luna is super curious and I love to see her sniffing plants, climbing trees, watching birds and chasing (and catching!) bugs and lizards.
I’m just so happy that I have been able to provide the type of life that I think is best for her - the safety of being an indoor cat, with the joy of exploring outdoors.
It is also really peaceful for me to get outside and appreciate the small things in nature too.
What has been the hardest thing about exploring with Luna?
Catexplorers are not a big thing in Bermuda. The vet told me of one other cat that comes in on a leash, and someone told me of a cat they saw at a beach event (who I later ‘met’ on Instagram). We’re a bit of a spectacle whenever we encounter people, which isn’t easy for me as an introvert or for Luna, who doesn’t love meeting people on the trail.
Watching how happy she is to go outside makes it all worthwhile, though.
Is there anything you would do differently with training Luna to explore with you?
I think I would have had more people visit the house when Luna was younger and taken her to more places with people to socialize her a bit more. But she is young and we are still learning and training, so I’m sure she will continue to build confidence in that area.
What is something you wish you could go back and tell yourself when you first started exploring with Luna?
I’m really happy with how well Luna has done with her training but I think it’s always good to be reminded to be patient with your cat, to follow their cues and to be consistent.
And to remember that every cat is different and not to try to make them like any other instacat.
Not every cat is going to be curious about water, like Luna is, and it’s ok that she is cautious with people, when other cats are bold.
Every cat is going on their own adventure journey, so I would just say to enjoy every single tiny success. If they combine to make a big success, then that’s a bonus.
What advice would you give other humans who are training their cats to explore with them?
Don’t give up if they lie down when you first put the harness on.
Find what motivates your cat (food, pats, words) and use that as positive reinforcement. Remember that even sitting outside and smelling the fresh air is enriching your cat’s life, so even small adventures make you a successful catexplorer.
Also, remember to have fun with your cat! Exploring together is such a wonderful bonding experience.
What are your favourite products for Luna?
We use an inexpensive Gauterf harness from amazon and it’s the best, most secure harness we’ve tried.
She also has a Midwest Forte grand scratching post, which she absolutely loves.
What do you wish people knew about cats?
How smart, loving and affectionate they can be. And that while they are independent, they really do care about their humans.
Is there another catexplorer (humans or feline) who inspires you?
There are so many catexplorers on Instagram I find inspirational but I’ll just go with a few.
Of course @catexplorer.community. You have been an amazing source of information and inspiration and a great hub to meet likeminded humans. So much of Luna’s success can be attributed to the encouragement and advice I get there.
@roxythe_kitty was really supportive and encouraging when we first began exploring (and still is). @greatgramsofgary is super inspirational. I can’t believe all he has achieved in just one year of catexploring. @hokuleathesurfingcat has been a great inspiration for all water-related adventures. Also @starpurrd @toratravels @bryson_burmese_adventure_kitty … I really could go on.
Follow Luna’s adventures on Instagram @luna_misty_blue