Dogs and their owners aren’t the only ones who get to have all the fun when it comes to playing outdoors — felines can enjoy the experience too. Contrary to popular belief, cats can enjoy being walked on a leash, just as dogs do.
With patience, your cat may get used to wearing a leash, which can benefit your relationship with each other! Such activities can deepen the bond between a cat and its owner, and can even train them to be more easily handled when it’s time for a trip to the vet.
Read your cat’s behaviour
Not all cats are created equal. As a cat owner, you must be attuned to your cat’s behaviour. While some cats will pounce at the chance to roam around outside, others may find the experience distressing.
If your cat seems receptive to, or at the very least, unbothered by leash walking, you can certainly give the outdoors a try! If their behaviour indicates otherwise, it may be best to let sleeping cats lie instead.
Get a harness
It’s important that you purchase the proper harness if you want to leash walk your cat — don’t buy a collar. Cats can wiggle through tiny spaces and there’s a chance that it will find a way to squeeze out of its collar and zip into nearby bushes or trees.
Your cat’s leash should also be attached to the harness along the middle of its back instead of close to the neck. Having a leash pull at your cat’s neck will be very uncomfortable and strenuous. Additionally, make sure that the harness isn’t too tight or too loose — a snug fit is just right.
Take it one step at a time
Take things extremely slow. Cats take time to adapt, so give yours some time to get used to the outside world, rather than expecting them to walk like pros from the get-go. Practice a little bit at a time at home — fit the leash and harness onto your cat’s body and let it walk around the house with it on to get it used to the sensation.
A tip to help the training process is to train your cat right before mealtime when it is hungry for some treats — they are likely to work harder, knowing that a scrumptious reward is on its way. However, if your cat becomes panic-stricken or freezes up as you put the harness on them, it may be better to train another day.
Time to go outside
Once your cat is comfortable with a leash and harness inside the house, it’s time to step out! Depending on how comfortable your cat is, you may have to walk it closer to home, just in case. On the other hand, if your cat is already active and comfortable, you can consider bringing it somewhere further.
While it is possible to walk your cat on a leash, do keep in mind that it is not a dog, and you, therefore, cannot expect it to behave in the same way dogs do! It’s also important to be aware that there are plenty of other ways your cat can partake in outdoor life even if they aren’t suitable to be leash-walked. For example, some cat owners take their felines out in strollers so that they can experience new sights and smells without compromising their sense of comfort.
Remember, your pet’s safety is your responsibility. Bearing these tips in mind, if your cat is indeed suitable for leash-walking, it could be a whole new gateway to a new experience and a deeper bond with each other!