If you are wondering, can I walk my cat on a leash? you should know that going outside is a therapeutic practice for some cats. However, in general, walks are not an inherent necessity in feline psychology. They have their place of disposal in the sandbox and prefer to interact with those who belong to their community.
Therefore, your first option should always be to enrich its habitat so that it gets enough stimuli in it to help it stay physically and cognitively stimulated. In the following lines we will discover which cat profiles are indicated to benefit from trips abroad and what aspects you should consider to make them a success.
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Should I take my cat for a walk?
Felines, territorial animals that they are, feel safe in the places marked by them. When going outside, the lack of those reassuring odorous traces will generate restlessness, which will become stress if the experience lasts over time. Exposure to new stimuli can become excessive if you do not choose the place well.
Walking a kitten involves an adaptation and learning process that you should address if:
- Your pet is obeseand needs to lose weight. This new way of exercising, in addition to being more fun than practicing physical activity at home, is very effective in getting rid of excess weight quickly.
- You notice that he takes advantage of any excuse to sneak around the balconyor hang around the terrace. Clearly your cat is interested in exploring the limits that go beyond his home, so setting aside a couple of days a week to walk outside could make him very happy and benefit his health.
- Your kitty has spent a lot of time outsidein the past and is restless and nervous at home. If the vet has ruled out that he suffers from any disorder or disease, you should consider taking him for a walk with some assiduity.
- You live with a shy cat, who has difficulties for social interaction or shows a tendency to run away. In all these cases, the specialists recommend the walks, provided that the appropriate measures are adopted and that they are exposed to this experience in a gradual and controlled way. We will delve into this later.
What should I do to enjoy the ride?
As we have already announced, cats value the security of their home very much. Everything and everyone they come across is familiar to them and they have identified them, so their integrity is not in jeopardy. However, if you have decided to start taking it abroad because you think it will be good for you, understand that:
- You must act calmly and patiently. Don’t force him to explore if he doesn’t feel ready or feels like it. Do not be angry or reprimand him if on the first walk he sits in a corner. You should do the same, accompanying him and speaking with affection.
- Be prepared to intervene if another cat or dog approaches. Take your kitty in your arms and distract him or put him in his backpack for cats so that he can pass the drink in the most bearable way possible and without suffering damage.
Collar versus harness
Purchasing a cat-specific harness and leash is the first step in your pre-departure preparation. You will need to measure the contour of your pet’s neck and chest to select the ideal range for him. The strap should not be retractable, but elastic and not more than 1 meter in length .
Collars are strongly discouraged because when pulling they could injure your windpipe and cause later swallowing difficulties. The harness manages to distribute the force evenly on the shoulders, chest and abdomen of the animal. That way, you won’t feel corseted and won’t be able to slip away. You will prevent it from being run over or lost.
If you are far-sighted, and although it is unlikely that you will get lost, it is advisable to place a plaque with your name and address to facilitate your identification in case of loss. Microchips and GPS locators are other resources you have.
Before having any contact with insects, bacteria and viruses from outside, you must make sure that your kitten is properly dewormed and vaccinated. Also, do not allow him to eat anything from the ground or eat plants or flowers. Many of them can be toxic to felines.
Training and positive reinforcement
You must accustom your pet to the harness. To do this, leave it among his toys so that on his own initiative he can sniff and mark it. Every time he does it, reward him so that he associates it with something positive. After several days you should put it on for a few minutes.
Repeat this routine for several consecutive days, with its corresponding rewards at the end, and gradually increase the time you wear the harness. After this phase, you should start with the leash by walking it inside the house . Let him go where he wants, just go with him.
When, after several days, you notice that it is already tolerated, it will be time to do the same, but on the outside. The first exits must take place in a controlled environment. For example, a private garden or a park in hours of low influx of people. It is not recommended that you take it out in a city, as the noise will overwhelm it.
Tips for Successful Cat Outings
Finally, we want to provide you with some simple tips that will help your kitty build positive memories around her walks outside:
- It is always preferable to start as a puppy. Adult cats will need more time to experience the benefits of these outings, some will not even approve of them under any circumstances.
- The first walks should be short, no more than 5 minutes. You will be extending its duration as you feel more relaxed in that new environment. Ethologists advise to pick it up on the first outing and leave it on the ground when you arrive. This way, you will feel less violent.
- Choose dry days, without rain. Your cat will be able to orient itself better and will enjoy more and better the stimuli that nature gives it.
- Abort any climbing attempt, as the leash could get tangled and your cat could injure itself or get scared.
- Never pull on the leashor yell at him if things aren’t going as smoothly as you’d like. Respect their choices.
Strengthen your bond with this new routine
In short, we can conclude that taking a cat for a walk can be very rewarding and healthy, but not all dogs like it. With foresight, patience, affection and these guidelines you will achieve that, if your kitten is interested in this experience, everything goes great and soon he will ask you to repeat.