Have you ever seen someone walking their cat and thought, “I wonder if I could walk my cat, too?” Walking your cat on a leash outside can be an awesome way to exercise them, and can be a great experience for both of you, if you ease into it properly.
At East Valley Animal Hospital we know that exercise and mental stimulation are some of the best ways to keep your cat’s health on track and prevent issues like obesity. However, there are a few things you should consider before leashing up your cast and heading outside.
How to Tell If Walking Your Cat on a Leash Is a Good Fit
While some cats enjoy going for walks outside, not all cats will like it. Walking cats on leash is not exactly something they’ve been historically trained and bred for. If you have a very shy or elusive cat, walking might not be a good fit.
People-oriented cats who love to explore are ideal candidates for walking, especially if you start when they are kittens. Kittens are still moldable, so much like leash training a puppy, leash training a kitten will be a lot easier than training an adult cat.
The best way to determine if your cat will like walking outside is to give it a try. If they are extremely fearful, and cannot be persuaded with treats, then walking on a leash may not be right for them.
What to Do Before You Walk Your Cat Outside
First, make sure your cat is up-to-date on all their vaccinations. Then, introduce them to the idea of a leash gradually. Putting a leash on your cat and immediately walking outside may cause your cat to balk and panic.
If you want to try walking your cat, first find the right harness for your cat. This may require you to buy several sizes and styles of harnesses before you find the right fit. Don’t be afraid to try as many as you need and return the rest. A secure and comfortable harness will go a long way in creating a good experience for your cat.
Once you find the right harness, take time to train with it on your cat indoors. Your cat may not be familiar with wearing a harness, and it may take time for them to get used to it. Make sure to give them lots of praise and treats while wearing the harness, to create a positive relationship with it.
From there, try adding a leash and walking them around the house. This may take a lot of treats and a lot of patience, as the resistance of the leash will also be new for your cat. Learning to walk on a leash indoors in a familiar space will ensure that your cat isn’t afraid of the leash when you go outside.
Be Patient with Your Cat
Training your cat to walk on leash is very different from training a dog. Cats may require more time to get used to leash walking, especially if they’re unfamiliar with the idea. Forcing your cat through a walk will damage your relationship with your cat, so always be gentle, patient and understanding.
Keep your walks short and close to home—that way if things are going south, you can simply pick them up and head home. Let your cat decide where to go and which route to take. This lets them satisfy their need to check their surroundings and explore.
Is Your Cat’s Preventive Care Up to Date?
Before taking your cat outside, make sure all their preventive care, like vaccines and parasite prevention are up to date. Your cat may be exposed to new things, and you don’t want to take them out unprepared. The staff at East Valley Animal Hospital want to make sure your furry friends are always protected and ready for any new adventure. To schedule an appointment you can call us at 480-568-2462 or contact us online.