Posted on July 6, 2015: And it has nothing to do with how you strut your stuff. Cat parents may be familiar with the exercise of walking your cat on a leash. But for those of us who are not, here’s what you need to know…
Cats are built to be active and energetic. Most pet cats in India are accustomed to spending a fair bit of time outdoors. This is how they keep their natural instincts sharpened and their trim figure in shape. But there are indoors-only cats. Certain breeds, kinds and colouring of cats, prevents them from being able to safely spend time outdoors. In fact, with the high chances of cats contracting life-threatening diseases from strays and other wild animals, or getting run over by cars on the crowded roads; makes many cat parents are hesitant about letting their beloved feline venture too far away from home.
Giving an indoors cat enough exercise is a challenge for cat parents sometimes. Indoor pets tend to get overweight and lethargic. And much like for human beings, being overweight leads to a host of health problems in cats and dogs alike.
It turns out that going out for walks on a leash isn’t just for dogs. Indoors only cats are also keen on smelling the smells and seeing the sights of the great outdoors and are good for being walked on a leash. This isn’t a gimmick or cutesy trend. Experts and animal psychologists agree that cats enjoy being walked on a leash as they get to spend some time outdoors and get a good workout in the process. “A lot of cats love to go outside and smell things, see things and roll around in sand and grass and dirt. They love to scratch real trees. Those are things they can do on a walk,” animal behaviour specialist, Sherry Woodard told the Huffington Post, “The cat is thinking more. It's thinking about how to use its body and what things smell like. The cats are brighter and engaged”. Also, taking your cat out for walks is a good way to bond with him/her. So, walking your cat is great for the animal and great for your relationship with the animal. Then, what are you waiting for?
Best Paw Forward
Just because it is good for them, does not mean that your cat is going to take to walking on a leash. There may or may not be resistance. But don’t let that keep you from putting your kitty’s best paw forward. Yes, you will probably get some looks for neighbours and passers-by when you first venture out with your kitty in tow, but who cares? Take a page from your cat’s book and simply enjoy the attention.
Harness training: Needless to say, you need to invest in a leash and harness that are meant for cats and/or small dogs. Take your kitty down to the store to get fitted with one or purchase one that has adjustable straps. Your cat should feel confident with you, on a leash, so be calm and assertive without being overbearing. Don’t let your cat associate the leash with unpleasantness or they just will not comply.
Start indoors: For an indoors only cats, the training starts indoors. This is to avoid accidents or injury in case your cat gets spooked by something outside and gets tangled in the leash. Make sure you and your cat are comfortable with the leash and can walk together without any hassles. When you buy the leash, give it to your cat to play and get familiarised with for a few days. Then, strap it on and make sure your cat is okay with being strapped in.
Walk at the cat’s pace: Once you are outdoors, watch out for signs that your cat is getting nervous/excited or over-simulated. Keep an eye out for dogs and other animals that can hurt your kitty. If your cat wants to sit down and scope the area out, let him/her do so first. The cat has its own way of getting comfortable and feeling secure in an outdoors environment. Be mindful of that. And if your cat is just not interested, and becomes dead weight when you try to walk him/her, then it might be best to give up on the idea of walking your cat on a leash and finding some other alternative exercise.
Notice how in this video, the cat parent patiently talks Ryder, the cat, through the process of putting the leash on him. And the humans walk at the cats pace, not the other way around.
Please don’t do this…
This cat is not interested in walking outdoors on a leash. Instead of forcing him, the parents could (and did) find another form of exercise that the cat enjoys.
Aim for the purrs
Your cat should not become a wanderer, from a single taste of the outdoors. Make sure that your cat understands that outdoor time is only with the harness/leash on, and doesn’t try to escape from open doors and windows.
Most of all, be patient and understanding of the cat’s needs and worries. Don’t force him/her and be open to trying new and different things.