Let’s face it. Dogs love being walked. They can’t seem to get enough of the outdoors, and their dose of sunshine. But when it comes to their feline counterparts, it is a totally different ordeal. They might hiss and purr and might be averse to the whole idea of being walked. But is it such a bad thing? Here is a guide on how to walk your cat and even get them to enjoy it!
Should you walk your cat?
Though it is rarely heard of, the concept isn’t alien. Adam Christman, a New Jersey-based veterinarian says to Mic, “Walking a cat not only increases the human-animal bond to its pet parent, but also encourages cat exercise. Exercising cats is not easy, but if a cat can enjoy walking on the leash, then it is a total win.”
Though cats display behavior that might suggest they simply want to laze around and have themselves some attention, the reality might be different, and they might actually require exercise just as much as any other pet animal. So how do you begin?
Use the leash when you walk your cat
If you present your cat with a leash and expect it to simply follow your command, it might not turn out as you expect. However, Christman continues to say that a leash might be the very thing that will work if you give it time. “Believe it or not, cats tolerate leashes and harnesses very well,” he says. “If you have them as kittens, it makes them more likely to be desensitized to walking them on a leash. They should be introduced to the harness by putting a harness on indoors — the first few times they may roll around, hiss, and try get rid of it, but eventually they will accept it. Let them become accommodated to wearing it before attaching a leash to it and going outdoors.”
Let the kitty take control
When you walk your cat, you should bear in mind that you are not so much in control as the tabby. Cats love being in charge and so you cannot spring any surprises on it, or tug too hard or dominate in any way. Let the cat decide the direction and you must follow. When it is time to go home, gently pick it up and set it in the right direction, or slowly tug on the collar.
A positive reinforcement might work after you walk your cat
When it coms to this, cats are no different from dogs. They love a good treat every once in a while and to be told that they did well. So do that. It could be the pet food or even some fish, but giving your cat a positive reinforcement or a treat when they are back from their walk is a way of garnering their attention and willingness to consider this routine.
Check the surroundings
You do not want to provoke your cat by walking it in a neighbourhood that is full of things that might get it on edge. This includes too many birds, mice or even other cats and dogs. Cats have a hunting instinct and thus the more peaceful the environment the better.
Have it secured in the harness
As docile as your cat might seem, it will not take more than a second for it to spring on something that it finds amusing or annoying. Thus, ensure that the harness is fastened.
Like every other animal, cats are no exception to parasites. When they are outdoors the threat is even more so. Protecting your cat with a good topical treatment can work wonders for it. This will ensure that your tabby is getting all the medical protection it needs when exposed to the threats of the outdoors.
Take it slow
Needless to say, don’t rush your cat into anything. Slow and steady does it. Gain its confidence. Understand its pace. The two of you should be comfortable with the walk and you will begin to enjoy it! There might be instances where the cat wants to sit down for a few minutes. Let it. However, you should also be in control to decide when resting time is up and it is time to get moving again.
Don’t expect it to be like walking a dog
It is common for pet owners to think that walking a cat will be very much like walking a pup. However, the two experiences ae dramatically different. Dogs are meant for the outdoors and there are no surprises there. But with cats, you might have to be more wary as to what triggers them, makes them hiss, their tolerance to certain neighbourhoods etc.
Know when to stop walking your cat
When you begin to notice signs like a puffed tail, ears down to one size, dilated pupils, staring at an animal or object, these could spell trouble and you should stop walking the tabby.
Getting your cat to walk isn’t a one size fits all process. Once you begin, you will see how enjoyable it is and might even fine tune it to suit your pet.