When Omari was growing up he had a dog. And, like most dog owners, he took that dog for a walk. It was an opportunity to get outside for a while, enjoy the fresh air, sniff around and see what the world had to offer. Walking the dog, it felt like the right thing to do.
And so, fast forward to adulthood and kitten ownership and, well, Omari didn’t think twice about walking his cat. Just like walking his childhood dog, it felt only right to get the housebound feline outside for a while.
Meet Tiny Mighty
Here’s the back story. When Omari and his partner, Aileen, discovered a tiny little kitten in the bushes near their home in North Texas in the spring of 2017, its mother nowhere to be found and left to its own to perish, they didn’t think twice then either. Aileen called out to the little one-pound kitty until he trusted her enough to come out of the bushes. He was so tiny he fit snuggly in the palm of her hand, vulnerable and alone. It was unclear at the time if it would survive. She then whisked it away to the vet for closer inspection. Aileen and Omari nurtured the little kitten to health and then appropriately named it Tiny Mighty, a nod to where it came from and the remarkable strength the little cat possessed at its core.
Here’s how walking a cat is done
Omari began walking the cat when Tiny was about a month old. Many people ask him how he began. His response is nonchalant and common sense, “I got a harness and I put a leash on Tiny, and we began to walk.” It was that simple.
It happens once a week, sometimes several times a week, and it’s always a good hour-plus affair. They only go a mile or so, down a long block from their home in Texas, meandering towards a rose garden and park. But Tiny Mighty likes to take his time. He stops, he sniffs, he explores, he jumps into bushes.
“Walking him takes a while,” Omari explained. “He’s no dog. He won’t listen to you, and he does whatever he wants to.”
Indeed, Tiny Might does his own thing. In fact, the cat has an affinity for a storm drain along the walk. He’s always expressed curiosity in the drain, but one day he took things a step further, when he launched himself into the drain. It took more than 45 minutes to fetch him. Omari and Aileen tried it all – calling him, treats, reaching their arms down that drain.
Eventually, they conceded that Tiny Mighty was in charge and that he’d return. And he did. And he continues to take the occasional storm drain dive, and he continues to return.
The bigger picture
While Omari walks Tiny with a leash, he often lets the cat go on its own. It’s his way of learning to let go, to see what Tiny Might has in store for them. To see what happens.
At the time we spoke for this blog interview, Tiny Mighty was at the vet getting checked up because he decided to indulge in chicken bones for a holiday snack. While he caused Omari quite a fright, he’s quickly rebounded, more rambunctious than ever.
“I think of it as him teaching me to trust him to handle things himself,” Omari reflected on the storm drain jumps, and the latest chicken bone feast. “It’s an opportunity for us to learn how to help him, and for him to teach us to trust him.”