Tips For Walking Your Cat

January is Walk Your Dog Month. This one definitely applies more to dogs than cats, but why should Fido have all the fun? Some kitties actually quite enjoy being walked on a leash. In this article, a local Smyrna, GA vet discusses some of the ins and outs of walking Fluffy.


What Are The Benefits Of Walking My Cat?


We’d put exercise at the top of the list here. Staying active and fit is important for cats of all ages. Kittens can burn off some of their zoomies, adults can get in a good workout, and senior kitties can stay fit and healthy.


Walks also provide Fluffy with mental stimulation, which is important for keeping her happy and entertained. Even though pets can be lazy sometimes, they always need some form of enrichment. Just like people, kitties can get quite bored just staring at the same four walls all day long! The mental stimulation Fluffy gets from sniffing things and watching birds and squirrels is very beneficial to her. This is also a great option for cats who were once strays, for cats who previously were allowed out, or for cats who are quite bold and adventurous.


Safety is another reason. Our feline pals may be quite adventurous, but they are also quite small and fragile. Walking Fluffy on a leash is much safer than letting her loose. Once your cat goes outside, she is exposed to a variety of threats, including the weather, wild animals, cars, the weather, parasites, and even other cats. (This is also safer for wildlife than letting your tiny lion out. Cats kill billions of small animals every year.)


Are There Any Downsides To Walking Your Cat?


For the most part, taking Fluffy out on a leash should be safe. However, there are a few concerns. For one thing, your kitten may pick up parasites or diseases. Be sure to keep Fluffy’s vaccinations and parasite control up-to-date!  Ask your London, ON vet for specific advice.


It’s also important to note that not all cats like being walked. In fact, some will be very scared of the outdoors. Don’t expose your kitty to stress and fear: if she doesn’t enjoy going out, leave her be.


Last but not least, there is a possibility that your pet will be injured or lost. Mishaps can happen at any time. There could be a dog on the loose, or you may accidentally let go of the leash. These things aren’t likely to happen, but they are possibilities. Just be vigilant, and take care to avoid potential hazards. 


Additionally, you may end up spoiling your feline buddy. Fluffy may demand those daily walks! Your cute pet might give you an earful if you don’t indulge her.


How Long Should I Walk My Cat?


This will vary a bit, but as a loose guide, we’d probably say a mile round-trip is plenty. For some cats, that may be too much. Remember, even if you walk at a slow pace, Fluffy may have to run to keep up with you on those little legs, and could tire out quickly. 


If your cat starts lagging, or attempting to sit or lay down, it’s probably time to head for home. It’s worth noting that panting is a huge red flag in kitties: they don’t usually pant, so if you see Fluffy panting, she’s overexerted herself. We suggest offering water, and then carrying her home.


What Gear Do I Need To Walk My Cat?


Don’t use a regular collar; it could be dangerous if your kitty got stuck on something. All you need is a good, comfortable harness and a leash. We’d recommend using a regular collar for tags, and a harness for clipping the leash to. 


This may not quite count as gear, but it’s not a bad idea to consult your London, ON veterinarian. Healthy cats should be fine, but if your kitty is a kitten, senior, or has any health issues, it’s best to check. 


How Do I Teach My Cat To Walk On A Leash?


Fluffy should be allowed to wear her harness indoors. It may take a while for your furry best friend to get used to her gear. That’s normal. Once your feline buddy has gotten used to the harness, attach a leash to it and let her drag it around.


Only put your pet’s gear on when you’re there to keep a close eye on her. Cats are very playful, so it’s very likely that your pet will try to play with her leash. You don’t want her getting tangled in it!


What Is The Best Way To Start Walking My Cat?


When your pet is comfortable with her harness and leash, you can simply take her outside. 


If she seems confused but interested, give her a few minutes, and see what she does. If she seems scared, take her back inside and offer her a window seat instead.


It is best not to go very far on your first walk. Also, pay close attention to how your cat behaves!


What Is The Best Place To Walk My Cat?


A fenced yard is ideal for starting out. However, a quiet sidewalk will work. Of course, if there are loose dogs or other hazards in your neighborhood, you may want to think twice.


Do not take your feline pal near busy roads, or places where she might run into loose dogs. Rivers and cliffs are also potentially dangerous for your pet.


Also, keep your cat away from trees. Kitties often climb them instinctively when they feel scared. Cat claws are also curved in a way that makes it easy for cats to go up things. However, going down is another matter: cats must learn that. (This is why they can get stuck in trees.)


What Are Some Ways To Keep My Cat Safe On Walks?


Fluffy should be up-to-date on her vaccinations and parasite control. She should also be microchipped and wearing an ID tag, as well as a GPS collar.


Make sure your cat’s harness is comfortable and secure, and keep a good grip on the leash.


Also, avoid the potential dangers we listed above.


Be careful not to let Fluffy eat plants or grass that might contain toxic substances, or walk through areas treated with chemicals.


Is There A Breed Of Cat That Enjoys Walks?


Our feline pals are all different, so it really comes down to the individual kitty. Some cats, like Siamese cats, Bengal cats, Abyssinian cats, Manx cats, and Persian cats, enjoy being walked more than others. Former strays and shelter cats may also enjoy it.


In conclusion: Keep your cat safe on walks by using a good harness and leash, and avoiding potential dangers. Don’t force your cat to take walks, though. Some kitties enjoy going for strolls, and the exercise and stimulation can be quite beneficial for them. However, walking may not be the best option for all cats. If your feline pal is weak, frail, extremely shy, or has always been indoors, she may prefer staying in.  


Do you want to learn more about walking your cat? Contact us, your London, ON pet hospital, if you have any questions about your cat’s health or care.


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