Teaching Your Cat How To Walk On A Leash
Why should dogs be the only ones who have a good time? Walking your cat is an excellent opportunity for you and your feline buddy to interact while also allowing them to explore the outdoors safely.
While there are several (simple and not-so-easy) indoor environmental enrichment activities, some cats have the attitude and enthusiasm to benefit from safe outdoor enrichment activities such as leash walking.
Walking a cat may provide both physical and cerebral stimulation and plenty of outdoor enrichment. It's a safe and enjoyable method to give your cat a taste of the great outdoors without allowing them to wander free like an outdoor cat, which shortens their lifespan.
Believe it or not, many pet parents take their cats on walks, and their cats seem to like it! While it may seem impossible to put a leash on your cat, your cat may discover that they don't mind with a bit of time and training.
You'll need more than a bit of patience if you want to try walking your cat. This is not a process that will be completed in a single day. To begin, you'll need a harness designed exclusively for cats. You'd be shocked how quickly your cat can escape a little dog harness, and a collar won't suffice.
Which Cats might enjoy and benefit from walking on a leash outside?
Cats in compact flats and apartments would be perfect for walks; however, they should be provided with much indoor environmental enrichment.
Cats who spend a lot of time staring out the window or glass doors, when you open the door, the cats try to flee, and so on are high, energetic, and audacious examples.
Even if you've attempted to make your cat's indoor environment more enjoyable, cats can display signs of boredom and tension. Over-grooming, hostility, destructive behaviors around the house, and even urinating outside their litter boxes can be signs of lethargy. Still, they can also be signs of underlying medical problems. Have them checked out by your veterinarian before writing it up to boredom.
As you might expect, you quickly discovered that walking a cat is not the same as walking a dog. To begin with, cats do not always respond as well to leashes and walks as dogs do, at least not at first. Second, they're not fond of being led around by a leash because they're cats. Third, many of the places you'd take your dog aren't as suitable for cats, but don't worry; there are usually plenty of excellent alternatives.
These distinctions do not rule out the possibility of taking your cat on a leash walk. After all, many cats can benefit from and enjoy them! However, they do imply that you must first teach and prepare your cat and yourself for these new outside experiences.
Before you go out and attempt a little spin on the catwalk, there are a few things you should do and be aware of, including some potential risks that your cat may experience, to ensure that you and your cat have the most significant and safest time possible. Take a moment to emphasize ensuring that your cat is always safe. This entails vaccinating cats against infectious diseases like Feline Leukemia Virus and ensuring that they are correctly identifiable, with a legible ID tag and a microchip.
Indoors is where you should begin walking your cat
Indoors is where successful adventures with your cat begin! You'll need to purchase the specific gear and some training you'll need to perform to have the best odds for the best walks.
Invest in a good harness and leash.
If you try to attach a leash to their neck collar, you'll quickly learn how effortlessly a cat may slip it, and they are ats make excellent squirmers. You'll need a nice harness to try leash walking your cat.
The ideal cat harness will be able to achieve two things: distribute pressure over numerous regions and avoid choking your cat. This is the part where you can relax and unwind. The safety aspect is preventing your cat from sliding out of its leash.
This implies that the harness on your cat's back should have adjustable straps that go around their neck and across their entire body. Depending on their body shape, fur length, and personality, you can utilize straps on your cat. Use strap harnesses or fabric wraps. Wraps might be difficult to wrap around a particularly fluffy or overweight cat, while strap harnesses can fall off a slender-framed or short-haired cat. Below are a couple of tackles for walking cats that I recommend.
Don't forget the leash, too. There are many decent cat leashes on the market, and several of the harnesses listed below contain one. However, it's crucial to mention that there is also a hazardous sort of cat leash on the market. On top of everything else, retractable leashes increase the distance between you and your cat, leaving you with less control if an uncontrolled dog or other animal appears unexpectedly on the scene. Just don't take your cat for a walk on a retractable leash.
Get Your Cat Used to Wear a Harness and a Leash
Cats aren't exactly keen to embark on new adventures. They require time to become accustomed to new situations. So don't make the same error as the writer of the Washington Post. Before taking your cat for a stroll outside, make sure you've familiarized and gotten them used to wearing their harness and being on-leash inside.
Allow your cat to investigate the harness. Treats and a clicker should be on hand. Click to record the successful behavior and reward them with a treat every time they smell, touch, or show interest in the harness.
You can wrap the harness around their neck; if they don't panic and try to pull it off or leave, consider rewarding your cat with a treat.
Put the harness on your cat. You should only attempt to put this new outfit on your cat if they are entirely familiar. Slip them into the harness gently, clicking and treating them the entire time to reinforce the concept that wearing the harness is beneficial.
Start by going for a walk inside.
Begin taking short indoor walks after your cat is comfortable wearing its harness.
Allow your cat to roam about the house while wearing the harness and carrying the leash. To encourage a favorable relationship, click and treat repeatedly. If your cat has trouble walking or refuses to do so, take a break, and resume later at the level your cat was previously comfortable.
Patience is essential at this point. Don't try to wrangle your cat into obedience or force them to walk. Instead, praise them when they follow your instructions.
When your cat walks with you, lavish praise and treats on him, your goal should be to get your cat to move around freely while still being close enough to pick them up in your arms if necessary.
This acclimatization and training process should be taken gently and at a safe and comfortable pace for your cat. Although the training procedure will be more effortless if your cat is younger, you may still train an adult cat to do this. Of course, remember the word of caution above when training a young cat to do this: make sure they're protected with the appropriate vaccines.
While you're waiting for their kitten vaccinations series to end, there's plenty of acclimatization and interior prep work you can do.
Once you've checked all of these boxes and overcome all of these obstacles, try outdoor walking in the comfort and safety of your yard or another uncrowded and somewhat private outdoor location first. It would help if you only attempted to journey further out until you and your cat are comfortable with these increasing obstacles.
How to Keep Your Cat Safe When You're Walking Outside
Now that you and your feline companion are prepared to start your journey, there are a few more things to keep in mind and steps to ensure the safest experiences possible.
Whether leashed or roaming-free, outdoor cats are more susceptible to illnesses and other issues caused by bugs and parasites. Indoor cats aren't entirely free of fleas, mosquitoes, or worms, but they are less dangerous. Here's some information and suggestions to assist you in keeping your cat safe from these issues.
Heartworm This is where the mosquitos enter the picture. Mosquitoes may transmit heartworms, in case you didn't know. And did you know that cats may get them as well? Unfortunately, it is challenging to detect once a cat has been infected with heartworm, and there is no cure. Fortunately, there are heartworm preventatives that are safe and effective for your cat. Learn more about heartworms in cats, including how to protect your cat with preventatives
Fleas can cause everything from a nasty itch to tapeworms to blood loss, anemia, etc. Fortunately, there are various flea medicines for cats that are safe and effective. Always read labels, and never use a dog flea medicine on your cat, as this can result in pyrethroid poisoning, which can be harmful and costly.
Worms in the Stomach Intestinal parasites such as roundworms and hookworms can easily infect cats, and cats who go outside are at an even higher risk. These two varieties of intestinal worms lay their eggs in dirt and mud, but they can also be found on various other outdoor surfaces. (These eggs can even be carried into our homes on the bottoms of our shoes.) Fortunately, the heartworm preventatives mentioned in the previous article can also help your cat avoid intestinal worms.
Predators aren't limited to parasites.
The outside world can be a frightening and deadly place for cats who aren't used to going outside. Dogs, coyotes, other large predators, and even fellow cats can attack cats even on a leash. When considering where to walk your cat, keep these dangers in mind. Another reason I don't recommend using retractable leashes for roaming cats is the ability to keep your cat near and scoop them up in dangerous circumstances. When you start walking your cat, bring a big towel. If your cat gets scared or threatened, it will come in quickly and safely, picking them up without getting scratched or bit.
Understand the Risks of Plants and Flowers
A single nibble or brief lick of a lily can cause a cat to develop possibly catastrophic acute renal failure. Not only are the petals and stems of lilies harmful to cats' kidneys, but so is the pollen! So even a curious brush across some lily blooms, followed by a bit of self-grooming, could be fatal or disabling for your cat.
Although lilies are the most hazardous plant for cats, they aren't the only harmful plant that can be discovered in your neighborhood or at a public park. Other plants, such as sago palms, tulips, and azaleas, can be toxic, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.
Follow Your Cat's Lead
Essentially, your cat's personality will dictate how they react to this situation. You presumably already know how they feel about going outside, and if they're nervous, this might not be the best idea. Finally, you must try before you know, but you should stop if your cat appears uncomfortable or sad. There are other solutions if you still want to take your cat outside. You won't have to go through a lengthy training procedure if you use a cat stroller to go on walks securely with your cat.
When taking your cat for a walk outside, be alert to your surroundings. Cats are harmful to many flowers and plants, so keep them away from the foliage. Also, keep their flea and tick treatments and heartworm preventatives up to date to keep them safe from fleas and other parasites.
Safety should always be at the forefront of your attention when walking your cat. Keep your cat near you to swiftly grasp it if you encounter a dangerous dog or another cat. Never allow your cat outside alone, and keep them away from dogs, whether they're out on a walk or just chilling in their yards. It's also good to avoid placing the harness on your cat if it begins to whine for it. While it's terrific that they enjoy it, you don't want to encourage bad behavior.
If you stay patient and pay attention to your cat's behavior, walking your cat can be a pleasurable experience. You'll be on the right track if you always do what's most comfortable for them.