Things Your Cat Wants You To Know: Walking Your Cat
Things Your Cat Wants You to Know
I call Opal my ‘Dog Cat’ as she likes to go outside on walks, comes to greet you when you get home, plays fetch, and loves her belly rubs. Do you have a "Dog Cat"? If so, they may like taking walks. I know it sounds weird, but walking your cat is a great form of exercise and stimulation for your indoor kitty. I am not an advocate for outdoor free-roaming cats, but that’s for another article. Today let’s look at walking your cat.
I’m bored. Indoor-only kitties can get bored with their environment. Taking them for a walk adds a layer of interest and stimulation in their lives. This can be the difference between a cat with anxiety and a calmer happier cat.
Keep me on a leash or else I’ll get into trouble. Many people let their cats roam free outside. This is certainly an easier solution than taking the time to harness and walk your cat. However, side effects of free-roaming are
1. Trauma to your kitty from fighting, cars, or other accidents
2. Contracting diseases - intestinal parasites, Feline Leukemia, Feline Aids, Lyme Disease, the list goes on.
3. Hunting of native wildlife that is already stressed with diminishing habit due to human incursion, so keeping kitty leashed prevents hunting.
Which color looks best on me? You’ll need to do some shopping to find the right harness (and color!) for your cat. Don’t try to use a leash only, make sure you get a harness. If you have a big kitty, look for small dog harnesses.
- Rabbitgoo Cat Harness - This is what I got for Opal, my tuxedo.
- Voyager step-in Dog Harness - My friend got this for her kitty as he is good at wiggling out of things and a big boy!
What is on my body?!? When you get your new harness. Put it on, make adjustments, and make sure it fits snuggly as cats are amazing contortionists. Once you have it adjusted properly, just leave in on your kitty and let her get used to it walking around inside. I did this for several days for 15 - 1 hour intervals with Opal rewarding her with treats. They may freeze and then adopt a very slinky walk. If your kitty completely freaks out, starts running, meowing, and rolling, this might not be a good option for them.
Let me do the walking. You don’t really walk cats, you let the cat, walk you. I let Opal decide where she wants to go within reason. I don’t want her getting into the woodpile, but otherwise, she chooses her direction and I follow.
It’s way too scary out there for me! Not every cat is a good candidate for walking outdoors. Opal is a fairly laid-back cat. She is nervous outside. I can tell as she meows and rubs up against me frequently. I am her safe zone. She will come when I call her. She has wiggled out a couple of times when pulling against the leash and backing out of the harness. While this is a little scary, I know she will come to me when I call her and let me put the harness back on or even pick her up to take her inside. My two other kitties would not allow this and likely run off frightened. So you’ll need to judge if your cat is right for walking.
I hope this gives you a place to start if you’ve been thinking about walking your cat.
-From Dr. Vicky