Many of our blogs encourage people to keep their cat indoors at all times. This is largely for the simple reason that it is just safer and healthier for them to do so. Being allowed to wander outside exposes cats to all sorts of bacteria, diseases, and traumatic situations that they would be better off avoiding. However, do the same principles apply if you were to walk with your cat outside on a leash? Here are some of the things to consider before you prance out in the great outdoors with your pretty kitty.
Pre-walking Considerations for Cat Owners
What is your cat’s temperament? Is your cat pretty predictable and steady when it comes to stimulations like noises, new toys or items around the house? How does she react when a stranger comes over? Is she defensive, meowing loudly, even scratching or hissing at anything unfamiliar? Is she skittish and inclined to race away to the nearest corner, or does the cat slowly approach new people or new things and check them out? How your cat reacts to unfamiliar things will be very telling when it comes to how they might behave outside.
How does the cat interact with potential prey? Is the kitty parked forever at your front window, chattering away at the birds before pouncing in frustration on the nearby pillows? When she baits and tackles the toy mouse, does she rip it to shreds, or chew on it until the toy is unrecognizable? Or is the cat playful and giddy as a hunter, but seems to lose interest after a while a move on? Some cats that lash out in aggression in their homes might just not be getting the exercise they need, and would function much better as a pet if they were to have regular walks. If you are in doubt about your cat’s behavior, start by going on small strolls before ending up at a busy park.
Do you have the right tools for the outing? Using your Yorkie’s retractable leash just won’t cut it if you are hoping to walk your cat. Felines are clever, stealthy and have incredibly flexible spines, making them surprisingly adept at slipping out of nooses. A walking jacket or harness made for cats is not only much more secure and comfortable, but it is less of a choking hazard, should your cat jump suddenly up on a tree or bench and lose her footing.
What is your expectation and agenda? Are you looking for a short little jaunt and creative way to explore a new space, such as a park or large lawn somewhere? If you are planning to go a far distance, moving quickly, and without distraction, then maybe cat-walking isn’t for you. Once outside in a new place, a kitty will be bombarded with new scents, sounds, and sights all of which may take some getting used to. Something could startle them, or cause them to panic. Be willing to move gradually allowing your cat to acquaint himself with the space, and be prepared with a towel-in-hand to pick him up and carry him home or to the car should his stress level become overwhelming. The point is to have fun with your cat and expand his horizons in a safe manner, without causing him any undue anxiety.