Historically seen as a pastime that was only the preserve of dogs, an increasing number of cats are now getting in on the action of going for walks whilst accompanied by their owner.
The concept sounds a little odd at first, but once you’re equipped with the correct apparatus and your cat has been introduced to the idea, the process of walking your cat can be enjoyable for all concerned.
To help you along your way, we’ve put together this handy overview of the accessories you need, how to get the most out of them as well as how to successfully combine the science together to embark upon your first successful cat walk.
Make Sure that Your Cat Has Been Vaccinated
Your cat is ready to go for its first walk as soon as they have received all of their vaccinations and they are no longer in danger of contracting any harmful illnesses or diseases.
Your cat will also be receptive to walking on a lead the younger they are, so we suggest introducing this concept to them as soon as they are fully protected. Older cats can still be walked but you may encounter more of a struggle in coercing them to get with the program.
Purchase the Correct Accessories
Unless you plan on letting your cat roam free whilst sweating and panting to keep up with it, you’re going to need a suitable cat harness and an appropriate leash. There are several available to purchase, all of which we have covered in depth in our main buying guide.
The salient points are that your new harness should be perfectly sized to your cat’s body to prevent it from working itself free, in addition to finding a lead which is the right length and provides the features that you require.
Introducing Your Cat to its New Harness
This is where the fun begins. Your first challenge is in convincing your cat that their harness is both a source of excitement and doesn’t pose any danger to them. If your cat likes to dress up, you shouldn’t find this part too difficult.
Allow your cat to observe and assess the harness by placing it within their usual play / comfy area. With time, your cat will become accustomed to its presence and no longer view it as a source of suspicion.
At this point, you can drape the harness over your cat and slowly tighten the straps until it fits firmly across their body. If your cat doesn’t immediately try to remove it, you’re onto a winner.
Conduct an Indoor / Garden Walking Trial
The next step is to assess how your cat behaves once on their leash. The best environment to conduct this experiment is somewhere familiar so we suggest starting within the confines of your home; either indoors or in the garden will do.
Whilst holding the leash, allow your cat to interact with their surroundings at their own pace. There is no need to pull on the leash or try to force your cat to follow you. Instead, allow your cat to wonder freely with you by their side.
If you both pass this trial successfully, it is now time to embark upon your first walk.
Find Somewhere Safe and Familiar to Walk
Walking your cat has the best possible chance of success when they feel safe and secure and are on familiar territory. Any area around your home which doesn’t feature roaming dogs is a great place to start.
Walk side by side with your cat, allowing them to walk the path that they choose. If they stop to interact with a bush, tree or other object, allow them to investigate it until they are ready to move on.
Pay careful attention to whether your cat seems calm or whether they’re agitated. If the latter, halt the exercise and return home, perhaps spending more time practicing in the safety of your garden.
If your first walk goes smoothly then congratulations! You have just successfully walked your cat.
We find that spayed and neutered cats are far more receptive to being walked outside. They are also far less likely to attract unwanted attention from other members of the feline fraternity, allowing you both to enjoy your walk in peace.
Cats are perfectly capable of walking and exercising themselves but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a little company. You will often find that it provides both of you with a great opportunity to bond and can strengthen already great relationships.