Written By Jenn Bussell
Paul Wesley, who currently stars as Stefan Salvatore on The CW’s hit series “The Vampire Diaries,”Ě loves his cat. So much so that he’s willing to risk a fiery death by the sun’s rays to leash up his feline friend and take him out for an urban stroll, and perhaps even a little pawtograph signing.
We kid, we kid. Paul is not a real vampire, but he is a dyed-in-the wool animal lover and strong supporter for improving the care, treatment, and protection of animals in the United States, especially farm animals. His cross-platform advocacy campaign to change how one American pork farm inhumanely raises its pigs was recognized by The Human Society of the United States, who honored Paul with their Humane Generation Award in March of this year.
What is real is the bond between Paul and his cat whose name is Cat (an homage to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,”Ě perhaps?). They’ve been BFFs ever since that fateful day this winter when Paul found Cat living under a car in Atlanta, the series stand-in for fictional Mystic Falls, VA and home of the Salvatore clan. It was the dead of winter, and Cat was without food and freezing from the snow and ice storms that had crippled most of the South.
Even more remarkable? Paul suffers from dander allergies, making cat parenting as daunting as a wooden stake to his alter ego, Stefan. But this doesn’t stop him from sneaking in a few furry snuggles and selfies with Cat whenever he can.
If you’re thinking Paul is just another one of those eccentric Hollywood stars, you night be interested to know that on Instagram there are more than 1,000 images of cats from around the world walking proudly on leash — simply search for the hashtag #walkingthecat to see feline freedom in action.
Backyard Leash Walks Keep Cats Safe & Happy
Whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or in the country, taking your cat for a walk is a fantastic way for both of you to bond and enjoy the great outdoors in a safe and controlled environment. To make the experience as positive as possible, especially for the indoor cat that isn’t already roaming the neighborhood at his/her leisure, it’s important to start slow — very slow. Kittens and adult cats can be trained to love a leashed life, but remember that any cat behavior-based training is as much to benefit your pet as it is for you, especially if you’re more accustomed to walking dogs.
Investing in cat-specific walking gear is an essential first step, and can be found in most pet retail shops and online at sites like Amazon.com. Kittens and cats should never be leashed directly to their collar so a classic harness is a must-have; a nifty alternative to the harness is a product called the Kitty Holster that more closely resembles a vest. As with our canine companions, proper sizing and fit will ensure your cat feels comfortable and secure. Plus, it will give you peace of mind as most cats have a propensity to Houdini themselves right out of a loose-fitting harness.
Next, acclimate your cat to the harness and leash indoors first, letting them sniff and investigate these bizarre objects before attempting to put them on. The fitting process may take but a single try, or you may find the need to ease your furry baby into the harness or holster over the course of a few days. Once they seem okay (and the scratches in your hands have finally healed), hook up the leash and walk them around your home for a few minutes a day. When you and your cat hit a confident indoor stride, the time has come to take it outside, again a little at a time. It’s best to keep your walks in a backyard area only,†as advancing cars, children or dogs can cause your cat to panic on the sidewalk. So be safe, happy walking, and watch out for vampires!
Want to See Original Photos of Cats Walking on Leashes?
The Great Animal Rescue & Harmony Fund have prepared a fun and frisky photo gallery of cats out for a leash walk. Enjoy it here and please go ahead and add your own photos to the comments section of the album.
Photo credit: Paul Wesley, @paulvedere on Instagram March 2, 2014