Do You Need To Walk Your Cat
Training a cat to walk on a leash is difficult, but it is achievable. However, it is worth considering whether you need to walk your cat. If training them to walk seems to be more for your benefit then your cats, then it might not be the right move for them.
Going for walks can be a great way to give your cat a bit more stimulation. However, it isnt for every pet. Some cats will not enjoy the loss of control from walking, this can make going for a walk more uncomfortable than it is fun for them. If your cat doesnt appear to enjoy or want to walk on a leash, then you shouldnt feel bad about not walking them. An enclosed garden for supervised play or even a catio can be a good compromise for cats like this. They get outside without a lead but stay safe.
Otherwise, walks can be a lot of fun for you and your pet.
Make Sure Your Cat Is Safe
Cats that spend time outdoors are more likely to get fleas, ticks, heartworms, and other parasites. Discuss preventative options with your vet to make sure your cat is safe and protected while enjoying;time outside.
Stay away from things that may startle your cat, such as busy roads and barking dogs, while outside. Even though a cat may be trained to walk on a leash, different situations may scare it and cause it to be afraid of going on a future walk.
Introduce The Leash To Your Cat
Now that you have a leash and harness picked out, itâs time to start by slowly introducing it to your cat. Every cat is different. Some cats will be naturals when it comes to leash walking. Other cats will have to be taught step by step.
Certain personalities of cats will dictate whether they are accepting of new experiences. Some cats will like using a harness and walking with a leash. While other cats will hate it. The best time to introduce a harness and leash is while they are a kitten. Introducing anything to a young animal is always better than introducing it to them at a later age. Usually the saying is you canât teach an old dog new tricks which can be the case in this instance.
Training your cat to walk on a leash early on will speed up your cats progress for future activities you may have planned. Things like hiking, going to the beach, or simply walking outside on his leash.
Older cats can still learn how to walk on a leash, but it wonât nearly be as easy of a task. Older cats tend to not have as much energy or tolerance as a younger cat which can lead to increased training times.
Every cat will have their own level of confidence when they are training. This means that it will come natural to some cats, while other cats may take them more than a few tries to get right. This is perfectly normal and itâs best to go into this with patience in mind.
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What Harness And Leash Do You Need
The first step to training a cat how to walk on a leash is to use the right leash. It can be difficult to teach your cat to relax with a tether attaching the two of you if the leash is uncomfortable. Equally, you want your pet to be securely fastened on the leash. If theyre not, then it might be hard to walk them at all. These are the things you need to look for in a cat leash.
Training Our Cat To Walk On A Leash
We began training Yoda to wear a harness and walk on a leash from a very young age .
At first, he wanted to play with it, get it off at all costs, but then we introduced treats and distracted him.
We often took him outside and would just let him sit in our laps with the harness on.
This was a great way for him to get used to wearing the harness because he was distracted by looking at the birds flying by, our dogs on the porch, or anything else. It was also just a great way to get him used to the outdoors.
Little by little Yoda was becoming more and more comfortable with his harness.; We decided to take him outside one day at my moms house, but I did not have a retractable leash I just improvised and use my moms dog leash that had one length of a few feet.; My first mistake! A gust of wind came and blew around all the leaves and in less than a second Yoda was free from my hold he bolted and it snatched the leash right out of my hand!; He began running around, free, and went into the woods and jumped on the trunk of a tree.
I was able to grab hold of his leash and take him into my arms.; I was so scared!; It was not his fault, however.; So I let him calm down in my lap, still outside, and then offered him a treat.
Lesson Learned always be alert!
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What If My Cat Will Not Be Led
Lets face it; most cats never really get used to being led; they prefer to browse. They do become comfortable with gentle persuasion. If your cat does get used to the harness but not with being led on a leash, keep the harness on her whenever you take her out and keep trying. The harness is the most difficult part.
Indoor Vs Outdoor Cats
There are many good reasons for keeping your feline friend indoors, as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals emphasizes: “Outdoor cats are at risk of trauma from cars, or from fights with other cats and free-roaming dogs. Outdoor cats are more likely to become infested with fleas or ticks, as well as contract infectious diseases.” Cats also can become ill from eating toxic plants or insects.
However, some cats flourish with a combination of the two: a life of luxury indoors and a life of leisure outdoors. This is where walking a cat can help bridge the two lives: she has her safe home indoors and can get a taste of fresh air.
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The Type Of Cats That Might Enjoy And Benefit From Outdoor Leash Walks Could Include:
- Adventurous cats that might show an interest in going outside .
- Cats showing potential signs of boredom and stress, even if you’ve tried to make their indoor environment more stimulating. Signs such as over-grooming, aggression, destructive tendencies around your home, and even urinating outside of their litter boxescan indicate boredom .
- Cats living in small apartments although you should still take steps to provide plenty of indoor environmental enrichment, too.
- Cats transitioning from outdoor to indoor lifestyles, whether they’re in the process of switching or have already made the switch.
If you are going to walk your cat, dont go about it like this writer from the New York Post.
I procured a cat leash and harness from a friend, who had attempted, unsuccessfully, to walk her own cats. Hoping to have a better go of it, I strapped my 7-year-old tabby, Jameson, in and headed out on a recent sunny Saturday.
As you might imagine, she soon realized that walking a cat is not exactly like walking a dog! First of all, cats don’t always take to leashes and walks as readily as dogs . Second, being cats, they’re not exactly, shall we say, “naturally inclined” to being led around by a leash. Third, many of the places youd likely take your dog typically arent as well-suited for a cat .
Begin By Walking Indoors
When your cat is comfortable wearing their harness, start going for little walks indoors.
- Let your cat wander the home while wearing the harness, with you holding the leash. Click and treat frequently to encourage a positive association. If your cat struggles or refuses to walk, its time to take a break and then start again later at the level your cat was previously comfortable with.
- Patience is key at this phase. Dont try to tug your cat into submission or force them to walk. Instead, reward them when they behave the way you want them to.
- Give lots of praise and treats when your cat walks alongside you. Your goal should be to get your cat walking freely, but close enough that you can easily scoop them up in your arms, should the need arise.
It really is important to take this acclimation and training process slowly and at a pace thats safe and comfortable for your cat. While the training process is likely to be easier the younger your cat is, you can still train an adult cat to do this. Of course, when training a young kitten to do this, dont forget about the word of caution above: making sure that theyre protected with the appropriate vaccines. Fortunately, theres plenty of acclimation and indoor prep work you can do while youre waiting for their kitten shots series to end.
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Walking Your Cat: How To Get Started
If you want to take your kitty for a stroll, try out a secure harness that wraps around her body and has a hook to attach a leash. Much like your own clothing does for you, the walking gear you purchase for your furry friend reflects her personality, so be sure to choose a harness and leash set that shows off her style.
Keep in mind that not all cats will take to the lead right away, if at all. As Petcha humorously notes, “if your cat hates being handled, she probably won’t want your grabby mitts putting a harness on her. Nervous, timid kitties aren’t good prospects for walks, either.” As with most training, it’s best to start when she’s a kitten, but don’t let her age keep you from trying.
When introducing anything new to your cat’s daily schedule, such as a change in cat food or a new grooming routine, start slowly. Set out the harness and leash on the floor for the first day or two so that she can sniff and play with them so that she becomes accustomed to them. It’s also a great idea to allow her to wear the harness around the house before giving it a test drive outside. Try taking a few walks around the house first to see how she likes it. Gauge her interest. If she doesn’t seem excited about it at first, you can try it a couple more times, but never force it on her. You don’t want your cat becoming anxious whenever she sees the harness or lead.
If you do decide to take your cat out for a stroll make sure prepare her before you leave the home:
Promote Positive Reinforcement With The Leash And Harness
The trick to getting your cat used to his new leash and harness is to make it a fun and positive experience. The best way to do this is with a reward system. What cat doesnât like to be rewarded with food? Start by leaving the harness next to your catâs food and water bowls. You can even hold out the harness so he can smell and inspect it while you then feed him his favorite snack or treat. I canât stress enough how important it is to reward your cat with any good behavior associated with his harness and leash.
Cats are very skittish animals in general. Loud noises and new sounds tend to frighten cats. Itâs a good idea to get your cat used to the sound of the Velcro and the snapping of the harness.
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Ragdoll Cats Love To Walk On A Leash
Ragdolls are sweethearts for walking on a leash. Theyre called the puppy cats for a reason.
They love to be with their human at all times and will naturally follow you about.
The only issue that I can think of with walking around is there is a tendency for Ragdolls to be a maybe a little too easy going and soft natured.
You have to be careful about where you take them. Most Ragdoll cat owners will only walk their cats in the garden or safe areas outside.
Patience Is More Than A Virtue With Cats
We did mention that not all cats can be harness trained. Even those who can be taught will not be easy. It isnt. It takes patience. Please give it a good try before writing kitty off as not trainable. This is a chance to really practice patience.
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Should You Walk Your Indoor Cat Outside On A Leash
It really comes down to your own personal opinion and decision.
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Many cat owners wonder whether or not they should take their cat for a walk outdoors. When you think about it, todays indoor cat is like a tiger robbed of his freedom. Their ancestors hung out in the deserts and jungles to hunt mice. Slowly, they evolved into our living rooms and while people took their dogs for walks, cats were kept from the world. There are many people nowadays who feel you should take your cat outside for a walk or at least let them outside to rove yards and disappear into the shrubbery for at least 30 minutes a day. It really comes down to your own personal opinion and decision.
Some cats certainly have the interest and personality for an outdoor environment like leash walking. Its a novel way to give them the physical exercise and mental stimulation that they crave. The types of cats that would enjoy an outdoor leash walk include cats that show signs of boredom or stress, apartment cats, and cats that are adventurous. Stress in a cat is typically demonstrated by overgrooming, urinating outside the litter box, and destructive tendencies around the home. If your cat spends a lot of time looking out the window, it would likely enjoy an outdoor walk. And if they bolt for the door whenever its opened, they are ready for an outdoor leash walk.
Why Walk A Cat On A Leash
As we state in the introduction, cats are curious creatures. Some will have more energy and eagerness to explore than others. The reasons for this are down to many factors. While there is still further research needing to be carried out, some cat behaviorists have determined there to be five general personalities for domestic cats. These are:
We cannot know exactly how these factors will affect a cat’s desire to explore outdoors, but there are certain traits which might make them more likely. For example, extraversion in cats is linked to activeness and inquisitiveness. This may make them more likely to want to explore outside. Impulsiveness is linked with being erratic and reckless, meaning they may be more likely to escape outside.
Another factor to do with a cat wanting to go outside is related to their innate hunting behavior. Cats will hunt, even if they have enough food to satisfy nutritional needs provided for them. Unfortunately, providing a cat access to the outdoors is detrimental to local wildlife due to high populations of domestic cats. Many researchers consider letting your cat have unfettered outside access to be a practice of irresponsible ownership.
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How To Put On A Cat Harness
Once you have the perfect fit for your cat, the next step is to get them used to wearing the harness. Your cat may be eager to get outside, but that doesnt mean theyre eager to be strapped into any kind of harness.
Before you try to put the harness on them, its a good idea to introduce them to their new walking accessories slowly. Put it near them, let them sniff it and touch it, and slowly start making it a part of their daily lives. Use treats as well, giving them one each time you put their head through, strap it on, etc.
Each style of harness will present its own pros and cons when putting them on. The trick is to know the harness well, so that youre not fumbling around with it too much, allowing time for your cat to make a run for it.
A swift movement over the head, and the quick but careful snap of a buckle will make harness time a lot smoother for everyone involved. Once the harness is on, make sure its not too tight before you put the leash on.
Harnesses should come with adjustable straps, so once its on the cat, hand your kitty a treat and spend some time adjusting it to make sure its escape-proof and comfortable.
Follow Your Cats Lead And Pace At All Times
Our best advice for training your cat to walk on a leash is to not imagine what its like to walk a dog. Walking a cat is completely different! Focus on your cats pace and rhythm, steer them away from trouble, and always proceed gently!
Here are some ideas for first trips outside the home on a harness and leash:
- Your backyard or garden
- Around the block or a quiet neighborhood
- A very small, quiet and nearby local park
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