How to Walk Your Cat on a Leash
Want to broaden your cat’s horizons but too skittish to let your beloved puss go wondering around the big wide world all on his lonesome? There’s no need to restrict your cat to the house, simply put kitty on a leash and take him for a walk outside.
No, we haven’t confused our feline friends with their counterparts, we are well aware canines have inherently walked on a leash for numerous years and it’s not often you see a cat and his owner pounding the pavement or enjoying the delights of the local park. But why not? What’s good for the goose is surely good for the gander (or the dog and the cat in this case). Let’s check out the best way to get your puss used to walking on a leash – get ready to explore the world together (or at least your local area)!
Benefits of a Leash Walk
Indoor cats are safe and secure from harm, but cats have explorer tendencies and are curious by nature. Keeping your cat cooped up at home can be a little limiting for him, and dare we say it, he might even get a bit bored.
Allowing him out into the fresh air on a leash provides the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of the wonderful world we live in (minus the potential risks of busy roads or predators). Plus, he’s not going to get lost or catnapped with you as his guide, so you can both relax and go for a stress-free amble.
Can I Train My Cat?
The words “training” and “cat” don’t seem to match that well, cats are renowned for their independence and for being their own “animal.” In fact, sometimes we have to wonder who is in charge in the cat/human relationship and actually suspect that our meticulous moggies are the ones training us and not vice versa!
However contrary to popular opinion it is possible to train your feline, they are clever creatures and very quick to learn. You can easily teach your cat to recognise his own name and similarly, he should quickly get used to walking nicely on a harness and leash.
What Will I Need to Train Puss?
You will need to invest in a harness that fits your cat like a glove, that’s the easy part (there are plenty to choose from).
Then you will need to practise putting the harness on your pet (the hard part, after all cats aren’t known for their love of being messed about), especially when not in the mood.
How Can I Get My Cat Used to A Harness and A Leash?
You can get your cat used to wearing his harness by regularly practising putting it on him indoors, you can also attach the lead and get your kitty used to a stroll around the lounge or dining room. Yes, he’s seen it all before, but it’s a good way to get you and puss used to leash walking. Treat each “training” session seriously – have treats on hand for when your cat responds well and don’t forget to offer lots of positive praise.
Once you have mastered securing the harness and leash and an indoor stroll then you can progress to outdoors. Head for your garden first, it’s nice and close and if it all gets too much you can head back inside! Practise walking around the garden, again make sure you treat and reward to promote the activity.
Progressing to Open Spaces
Feeling confident within your own territory? Then it’s time to venture from your back yard and head out front. If you have a front garden start there and allow your cat time to get used to the unfamiliar sights and sounds. Once you have mastered that you can set your sights further, make sure you head somewhere that’s relatively quiet and free from hazards and disturbances that might upset kitty (remember he might have had a sheltered life up until now, so loud noises and overpowering pongs could cause upset).
Never, and we repeat, never leave your cat tied to a lamppost of signpost while you nip into the local shop – this is not safe (not even for a minute). If your cat is upset by a passing car, person or another animal he could become distraught and either get tangled in the leash as he tries to escape or he could manage to break free and head off at top speed. Your foray into the outdoors will end in tears.
Finally, don’t rush your moggy, if you get too excited and push things too quickly your cat may get distressed and lose confidence – you want a trip outside to be fun for both of you, not a chore and something that your cat hates with a passion.
Get this right and you will open up a world of opportunity, exploration and discovery and help to keep your cat’s brain sharp in the process.