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How to Walk Your Cat

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How to Walk Your Cat

Ever seen a cat out walking on a leash? Most people who have seen one react with astonishment that a cat would be domesticated enough to willingly allow itself to be tethered to a leash and guided around by — of all things! — a human companion. But it can, and does, happen. After all, why should dogs have all the fun? Everyone knows cats like the outdoors, too. Shouldn’t they get the opportunity to explore the great outdoors along with the rest of us? Shouldn’t they be allowed to maintain their youthful figures with some regular exercise? With proper supervision, patience and consistency, you too can train your cat to walk on a leash.

Does Age Matter?

Once a cat has reached the age when she has been fully vaccinated, it is safe for her to go outside. Remember that this is not so much to protect other animals from what she might be carrying, but to protect her from what they might be carrying. It is best to start as early as possible, before your cat has developed a fear of the outdoors or a fear of unusual noises. Older cats are often more reluctant to go outside on a leash — or to be on a leash at all. It may take months to get her used to accepting a harness, and to being led, but with diligence and a wish to succeed, you can do it.

It will help a lot of your cat is already responsive to you. If you can call your cat and she consistently comes to you, you are already on a good track. If you do not have this type of relationship, you will need to start there. Using treats and lots of praise, call your cat to come to you. After some time, your cat will learn that coming when called will be rewarding.

Image Credit: juhansonin via Flickr

See Also: Should I Keep My Cat Indoors?

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Read more: Animal Rights, Behavior & Communication, Cats, Everyday Pet Care, Humor & Inspiration, Pet Health, Pets, Safety, ,

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Nicolas, selected from petMD

petMD is a leading online resource focused solely on the health and well-being of pets. The site maintains the world's largest pet health library, written and approved by a network of trusted veterinarians. petMD was founded to inspire pet owners to provide an ever-increasing quality of life for their pets and to connect pet owners with pet experts and other animal lovers. For more information, visit petMD.com.

224 comments

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8:17AM PST on Jan 17, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

7:43AM PST on Nov 13, 2012

Thank you for this informative article. I'll start today!

2:51AM PST on Nov 13, 2012

If I tried to put a leash on my cat, I think I would end up wearing it and of a get a couple of scratches to go with it. (Well deserved)

12:30AM PST on Nov 13, 2012

Monitoring and letting out your indoor cat into an enclosed backyard might also be an ok way to let your cat stretch it's legs....?

7:15AM PST on Nov 12, 2012

When it comes to cat behavior, it's our own assumptions that limit them. I have a short cut to walking a cat based on over 30 years of working with cats and dogs. First, get the cat accustomed to wearing stuff -- collars, harnesses, hats... (well, OK -- hats are optional.) The easiest is to cut two pieces of elastic to go around the neck and the rib cage behind the front legs. It should not be tight, but not too loose. You want it to fit without moving around on its own. Put on the body loop first, then immediately reward the cat by taking up her favorite active game. (if she doesn't have a favorite active game, start there, with a feather on a string. Tease the cat into stalking, chasing and capturing the feather. Always halt the chase phase before the cat loses interest, then feed a small (1 tsp) yummy wet food on or close to the feather. This sequence is very innately satisfying to all cats. Following the putting on of stuff with the game takes the cat's focus away from the annoying foreign object, and they get used to moving freely while wearing something, and also to anticipating fun following the donning of stuff. Graduate to a harness, then to a harness with an inert leash, then to a leash dragging a small weight, then to a leash attached to a person. Play the game with the door open and let the cat spill outdoors for the finish. A cat whose brain is engaged in a strategy game is not primed for fear and hiding. Cats who get socialized and accustomed to n

8:24AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Ten Tips On How To Walk Your Human

1. Get them up early, five is the best hour in the morning.

2. Push them gently out of bed and insist that they feed you immediately.

3. Give encouraging kisses.

4. Purrs for attitude.

5. Instruct them to wear shoes as human feet are not as tough as a cat's paw pads.

6. Have them open the door.

7. Lead as is the Cat-titude of The Cat.

8. Keep humans safely on the sidewalk, their minds wander.

9. Stop at the local organic butcher.

10. Purrchase with the human's debit card all choice cuts of organic meat to fill the entire chest
freezer, mark "CAT FOOD" in black marker as humans can be forgetful.

Some of the cats owning me would go for walks on the harness around the neighbourhood, when living on the farm there would be several who would follow us and stay with us for well over an hour. Each cat is unique but many certainly can be harness trained.

5:19AM PDT on Jul 13, 2012

All I can think of is that old saying "Its as easy as herding cats" meaning something is very difficult.

But it was nice when one kitty friend used to walk beside me any time I went out walking in the evening, would follow me all the way out and back and come in and sit with me. No leash, just two companions enjoying a pleasant walk.

5:05AM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

interesting article, thanks for sharing :)

2:40AM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

very interesting, thanks for sharing this

12:17AM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

I dont believe that most cats personality is compatitible with walking on a leash. They usually are the ones to choose the : when , why and how and how long . Certainly none of my cats would ever be happy to walk on a leash !

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