A lot of cat owners walk their cats on a leash, and this isn’t as strange as you might think. Provided it is done correctly, it can be beneficial to both you and your cat.
Introduction to Is It Weird To Walk Your Cat On A Leash?
It is very common to see a dog being walked on a leash, but we do not see their feline counterparts getting involved in this type of activity anywhere near as frequently. In the main, cat parents allow their kitties to wander around the back yard – sometimes even further, and they will return when they feel like it. Dogs, on the other hand, require a strict and safe exercise routine.
But why should this be different for cats? There is no real reason why you shouldn’t exercise your furry friend in this way, but there are things that you should be mindful of.
In this article, we are going to be looking at whether it is weird to walk your cat on a leash and how you can do this properly.
Is It Weird To Walk Your Cat?
It may come as a surprise that more people than you might imagine take their cat for a walk on a leash. If you have an indoor cat, this can be a good way to get them out into the fresh air and give them some proper exercise.
However, you should err on the side of caution since some cats find the experience more distressing than beneficial – and of course, the welfare of your animal should be your main priority.
When Should You Not Walk Your Cat On A Leash?
Since there is an excellent range of cat leashes on the market, one would believe that walking them is OK across the board. The RSPCA does not recommend walking your cat on a leash for a variety of reasons. But it is important to look at the situation objectively and make a decision based on the personality and preference of your cat.
There is no denying that some cats will find the experience of being attached to a lead and led around unfamiliar locations extremely distressing. If your cat shows any sign of being stressed or uncomfortable when trying to walk him, cut the activity short, and do not force him. Stress in cats can cause other unwanted behaviors such as inappropriate urination and aggression, both of which can be difficult to manage.
Additionally, it is also important to keep in mind some of the reasons that your cat might become upset when you take him for a walk. In most cases, your cat will refuse to move regardless of how much you encourage him – take this as a sign that he does not want to participate.
Cat’s who find being walked on a leash may struggle with the following aspects of being outside of the home:
- Unfamiliar scents
- Other animals, particularly dogs. This is especially true if they do not regularly have interactions with other animals.
- Loud noises that they are unfamiliar with.
- New people – keep in mind that other people may see your cat and wish to pet it. When strangers approach dog walkers, their canine companions are usually happy to receive the attention. In contrast, cats do not respond, as well.
When Should I Walk My Cat On A Leash?
On the flip side, there have been and undoubtedly will continue to be, many cat owners who have successfully trained their puss to proudly patrol the streets on a leash – and they enjoy it very much.
If your cat enjoys the activity, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be doing it. As we mentioned, it is more about the welfare of the cat. Animals who take enjoyment from certain activities and are regularly able to do them are happier overall.
One of the first things that you should remember when walking a cat is to use the correct type of equipment. Whilst dogs can have their leash attached to a collar; this could be potentially dangerous for a cat.
Cats will easily be able to slip out of a collar, and when out and about, could easily become lost. Furthermore, if they pull on the leash, a collar could serve as a way of choking them. Therefore, when walking your cat, you must invest in a harness that will provide a greater level of safety.
There are many excellent cat harnesses available, for example ;
The Toulifly Cat Harness is excellent thanks to its comfortable nature and ease of use. It is fully adjustable and will not restrict your pet’s movements in any way. It also features reflective strips for night time walking and the secure attachments ensure optimal safety.
Compared to H style harnesses, this one offers greater comfort for the cat. This is because the pressure of the leash is more evenly distributed across the entire body as opposed to pulling on one area.
Cats that may do well being walked are:
- Cats who are easily bored
- Cats who live in homes without a garden
- Cat’s with a sense of adventure
Important Considerations Of Walking A Cat
If you have never taken your cat into the great outdoors before, it may feel a little overwhelming, but there are many things that you can keep in mind to make the experience easier for both of you.
Prepare Your Cat
Kittens may be more adaptable and take a lot easier to being put into a harness, but older cats may take some convincing. You mustn’t force the matter.
Allow your cat to explore the harness before you even attempt to put it on. It can be a good idea to leave the harness in a location within the home where your cat will notice it. She will likely explore this new, interesting item and try to familiarise herself with it.
Unlike dogs, cats are not used to the ‘walkies’ call and will not instantly jump for joy when you try to fit their harness. You could use clicker training to reward positive interactions with the harness. To begin with, this could simply be rewarding the cat for sniffing the harness.
You could also use the harness to touch your cat – gently stroking her with it will get her used to how it feels, and once again, this behavior can be rewarded.
It is important to remember that this type of training can take some time so, even though you might be keen to get out there with your puss, she might need a little longer to get used to the idea.
If you want to be successful, it is vital to be patient and work at your cat’s pace. When you feel that your cat is ready, you can attempt to fit the harness for the first time. If this distresses her in any way, take it back a step and wait a little while before trying again.
However, if your cat seems happy to wear the harness, allow her to keep it on in the house for a little while. Again, this process will take time, and to begin with; you should remove the harness after a few minutes. Baby steps work far better than trying to race ahead.
For indoor cats especially, being taken out into the wide, open space of outdoors can be intimidating, so you must ease him into it.
The first ‘walk’ should take place in the home – try walking your cat around each room and see how she responds to being directed on the leash. It is also important to give her some leeway. For example, if she wants to stop to explore something, you should let her. Walking animals is just as much as exploration as it is about exercise.
Rewarding their good behavior is important when your cat obeys a command – for example, after allowing her to explore and you ask her to move along, reward her for complying. Getting this obedience now will make going out far easier.
Focus On The Cats Reactions
Potentially the most important aspect of training your cat to walk on a leash is to pay attention to how he reacts to every part of the training.
If you notice any signs of stress, it is important to halt the training and allow your cat to calm down. Don’t return to the training until the following day, and if this type of reaction continues, you may need to accept that your cat does not ever want to be walked on a leash.
Be Aware Of Dangers And Problems
We have already touched on the fact that your cat may feel threatened if a stranger approaches her, so this is something to keep in mind. However, there are other things that you should be mindful of when taking your cat to a park, field, or other public space.
- Make sure that your pet is up to date with all of her vaccinations. The risk of contracting a medical condition is seriously heightened when leaving the safety of the home.
- In conjunction with protecting your cat from medical issues, you should also be aware of the potential for things such as fleas and worms. Fortunately, there are several flea and worm prevention and treatment methods that are essential for pet owners who take their animals outside.
- Cats are naturally curious animals – where do you think the saying came from? What’s more – their curiosity could potentially kill them, or at the very least, harm them. There are many plants that could poison your cat, of course, the best way to avoid this is not to allow your cat to go near any vegetation – but this requires a lot of focus on your part. Lilies are notoriously dangerous for cats, and something as seemingly innocent as the pollen from these plants could mean serious consequences for your cat. There is a wide list of plants to avoid, and it is important to familiarise yourself with these.
- Your cat may not behave in the same way that a dog would when out on a walk. In some cases, she may be happy to walk to local green space and simply sit and relax. This is important to keep in mind and does not expect too much from your moggy.
Cats are usually independent creatures who will go off and explore the world alone, but there are owners out there who cannot or do not want to let their cat outside unsupervised.
Getting out and about with your cat might seem impossible, but with a cat harness and the right training, there is no reason why you can’t. However, it is essential to keep in mind that some cats will not want to go for a walk on a leash, and the matter should never be forced. This will prevent your cat from becoming stressed.
For cats who are happy to take part, detailed training is required, and patience is crucial from the owner.