Walking a cat used to get you double takes, but it’s quickly becoming more common to see leashed cats at parks and on hiking trails. Cats living in apartments don’t have enough space to stretch out, and can benefit from the exercise and mental stimulation of an outdoor adventure.
It’s best to get a kitten started with brief outings, but even older cats can learn to love walking on a leash. Here’s how you can get started:
Choose Your Cat Walking Gear
You shouldn’t attach your cat’s leash to their collar. Breakaway collars fall off when your cat puts up a struggle, which is bound to happen on a walk. Even non-breakaway collars are easy for cats to slip out of, unless they’re extremely tight; you want your cat to be comfortable.
It’s best to use a walking harness specifically designed for cats. Small dog harnesses can work, too, but they’re not usually designed with the feline physique in mind. Cat harnesses are fully adjustable and have the leash clip on the center of the back to reduce strain on the neck. Look for a vest-style walking harness that would be difficult for your cat to squirm out of.
You can use a small dog leash to attach to the harness. To give your cat more freedom, you might also want to purchase a long line – a very long leash that would allow your cat to explore a wide area.
Acclimating Your Cat to Their Walking Harness
Most adult cats will put up a struggle if they’re strapped into a harness and thrust outside right away. It may help to allow your cat to wear the harness around the house for a few hours to get used to it. You can use tasty treats to help them associate the harness with good feelings.
After a few days of wearing the harness in short sessions indoors, you can begin to take your cat outside. If your cat is immediately allowed outside whenever you put the harness on, they’ll associate it with adventure and will be more tolerant of it.
Taking Your Cat for Outdoor Adventures
Your cat’s first adventures should be in your backyard or otherwise close to home. Make sure your cat is hungry, and bring some treats. You can toss the food into the grass for your cat to find, or use it to keep them calm and happy in a new environment.
After a few successful outings near home, you can take your cat to the park, or even to downtown areas. Remember, most dogs are not used to cats, so you might need to hold your cat or put them in a carrier if a threat appears.
Never tether your cat and leave them alone. Your cat could panic and get themselves strangled in their leash. If you need to enter a store, leave your cat at home, or at least bring a carrier.
Keeping Your Walks Cat-Friendly
There’s a fine line between a happy cat on a walk and one who is terrified. Give your cat plenty of time to acclimate to walking at one park before taking them someplace new. And if they absolutely hate the harness, and refuse to walk at all, respect their wishes and allow them to stay home.
When walking your cat, allow them to choose the path of your journey. Allow them to follow scents and stop to rest as they please.
Choose Ready Pet Go When Your Cat Needs a Friend
Whether or not your cat learns to love walks, it’s great to have a pet sitter they know and love to care for them when you’re not home. The professional pet sitters from Ready Pet Go are bonded and insured, and will quickly become your cat’s trusted friend. Call 240-221-5335 or contact us online.