If you ever saw a cat being walked on a leash, either in real life or online, you might have wondered: Should I try this with my indoor cat? Fact is, many cats enjoy exploring the outside world with its new sounds, smells and textures. Walking your cat outside can enrich their life while it also stimulates them physically and mentally. Even more, the activity can help strengthen the bond between a cat and his owner, giving the pair something to experience together.
If you are ready to try this, the most important thing is not to stress out your cat. Therefore you have to take things slow. Here is how:
1.Get a cat harness
Because cats are so agile, a simple collar around the neck is not enough to hold them while walking outside – they can easily pull out of the neck collar, even a well fitted one (and you do not want to make the collar so tight that there is a potential of cutting off air flow). Instead, use a good-quality harness that has been designed especially for cats. A cat harness is typically made with an adjustable neck collar, which is attached to an adjustable body wrap. The harness should fit snug to the body, but not be so tight that air flow will be constricted. You should be able to fit two fingers under the harness at the neck and under the chest. The clips holding the harness should snap securely — they should not be the safety break-away type that is commonly found in cat collars. Have a look here for stylish and safe quality cat harnesses from the Australian brand Red Dingo.
2. Start the training
Start the harness training inside. For the sake of safety, it’s crucial to start training indoors. Training sessions should be short, positive and fun so you don’t risk stressing out your cat. First, just let your cat smell the harness and get used to it for a few days. Next, try to slowly put it on your cat for a little while without closing it, then a bit longer until, after a number of sessions, your cat gets used to walking with the harness on the leash through your house. It’s not at all unusual for a cat to drop over on her side or freeze when a harness is placed on her. If this happens, see if you can entice her to stand up again. If not, go back a step, maybe you went too fast. It could take a few days or in other cases weeks for your cat to get used to it. Some cats just never get used to it and that’s okay. You can’t force it. Reward your cat at every step of the process with treats and/or cuddles, depending on what your cat loves.
3. The first outdoor adventure
The first outdoor session Make sure your cat is really used to walking with the harness and leash indoors before going outside. Check carefully that the harness is tight enough (but not too tight), so that your cat can’t escape. The first session should be in a calm place close to your house. If you have a terrace or garden, start there. Avoid rush hours, school-end and dog walking peak times. Monitor your cat closely for signs of stress. If your cat isn’t enjoying it or gets scared, make sure to return inside. You can bring a towel (to cover your cat with) in case he/she panics and you have to abort the mission immediately.
4. Don’t expect your cat to turn into a dog
If you do decide to venture outdoors, don’t expect your cat to walk next to you the way a dog would. It might be a little chaotic but that’s what we love about cats – they have their own mind. Likely on their first exploration your cat is going to stop and smell everything, maybe freeze, try to climb up a tree, your leg or to hide under the nearest bush.
Look at the best case scenario:
And here you have the worst case scenario:
Good luck! We would love to hear from you. If you tried it, please let us know how it went and send pictures/videos:)