It might be more common for dogs, but walking your cat can be a fun way for you and your fur friend to share in a little adventure... So long as you are patient and they are keen and willing!
Walking your cat has become increasingly popular in recent years as has the range of leashes and harnesses available.
Whilst it's easier to get a kitten used to outside walks, you can also encourage an adult cat. However, patience will be key in your pursuit, as well as acceptance should your cat steadfastly refuse.
Accessories for walking your cat
With plenty of accessories on the market to help with walking your cat, it must be noted that security design and comfort should be at the top of your list when purchasing a device - above colour choice and aesthetic.
Harnesses are recommended over collars, which can cut into your cat's soft neck and make the animal feel like it is being choked. It is important to note that your cat's neck is less robust than a dog's. With a harness, the leash will pull on the chest of the apparatus, dispersing pressure and making it more comfortable for your pet.
An advisable form of harness is a walking jacket or vest. These are designed in the same way as a harness but provide more coverage and better pressure distribution.
Depending on the quality and design of your harness, your cat may be able to extract themselves. Therefore, it is important to choose one that your cat will be unable to free itself from but also one that it feels comfortable wearing.
Getting your cat used to walking on a leash
While some cats will not take to a walking on a leash, others will enjoy it. Some will adapt quickly while others may take some time getting used to it.
Here are some helpful tips to help your cat adjust:
1. Make sure your cat's harness (or walking jacket) is sized for them.
2. Leave the leash and harness around your cat's nap area for several days so they can adjust to their presence and smell.
3. Try to use the leash and harness as play toys (e.g. dangling them in front of your cat).
4. After a few days of the above, try to put the harness on your cat. Keep it loose for the first time. If your cat doesn't tolerate the harness, try to play with them to make them understand they still can move when wearing the harness.
5. Try again the next day. The goal is to get them used to wearing both the harness and the leash.
6. Repeat this exercise, progressively increasing the amount of time your cat wears the harness.
7. When you feel they are ready, start walking your cat inside your house. Make sure you encourage them and show them plenty of affection.
8. Allow your cat to guide you instead of where you want them to go.
9. Little by little, encourage them to take your instructions without pulling on the leash or forcing them.
10. Time to venture outside!
11. Choose a quiet place close to your home for your first walk (ideally your front or back garden).
12. As they become more comfortable with the process, you can begin to explore quiet, local streets or parks.
Remember to always monitor your cat's behaviour and stop the process if they appear distressed at any point throughout the process. Patience is key and respecting how they feel will ensure any cat walks you embark on are fun for you both!
Do you and your cat go for walks together?