You can walk your cat,,,seriously.
19 September, 2011

My cat, Sammy, is an indoor cat. I am always worried that he will run outside. Yet, I wondered if I could ever expose him to the outside world. I thought I had my answer. I saw a woman walking a cat on a leash and thought about how or if I could get Sammy to do so. I was on a mission.

I bought a harness and a leash for Sammy. A harness (not a collar) should always be your first choice for cats. The harness should be snug fitting, not tight. However, make sure that the harness is not too loose or your cat will slither through pretty quickly and be off! The leash should be long enough so your cat can wander a bit, but avoid the long leash on retractable string that we use for dogs.

Make sure to use cat leashes, which are lighter in weight than dog leashes. Keep your cat on a lightly looped leash. Try to avoid letting long sections drag on the ground because if she or he becomes scared or decides to go chase a squirrel suddenly, she or he may get hurt.

It is recommended that you get your cat used to wearing a harness first before attaching the leash and going outside.  Let him or her wear it for short periods of time (10 minutes several times a day) around the house. Praise her for wearing it.  After she is comfortable with the harness, then attach the leash and again work in the confines of the home at first.  Offer treats or favorite food while leash and harness are attached.

Most cats enjoy a short walk around the neighborhood, but some cats, especially older ones may not readily take to walking on a leash. It is easier to introduce leash training while your cat is still a kitten. If you thought it was hard teaching an old dog new tricks, try old cats….it certainly wasn’t easy for my Sammy to try it out.

Make sure to have very short training sessions. With a very short attention span, walks should be on the short side during the learning curve. You could start by walking the cat for a block. And make sure to praise your cat… don’t get angry even if your cat doesn’t cooperate.

Reward even a few steps taken along with you! If your cat appears tired or bored, you may need to pick her up and carry her home until she gets the gist. A walk with a cat is a slow leisurely walk! You cannot train a cat to heel or snug by your side as with a dog.

As always, be careful that your cat does not eat the lawn or anything else that might have a pesticide.

It isn’t easy but it was kind of fun. I might have enjoyed it more than Sammy, but I think we will try it once a week to see if he has as much fun as I did.

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