You may find it weird, but many people are starting to walk their cats, like people use to do with dogs. And why not?
Cats, like other animals, like to be outside. Unfortunately it is very risky to allow your cat to go for a walk by himself. He might fight with other animals, he may be hit by a car or he may simple not come back home. Consequently, you may teach your cat to walk on a leash and by doing it you will assure his safety and amusement. One says that cats enjoy spending time outside and that go for a walk with your cat may reinforce your bond with him. And there are other advantages. In fact, it is a good way to keep your kitty healthy and reduce overweight.
How To Train A Cat To Walk On A Leash
According to Sherry Woodard, an animal behaviour consultant at Best Friends Animal Society, some cats won’t like to walk on a leash, but still you should try. Woodard claims that when cats go for a walk, they see different things and this makes them use their brains in a different way. Woodard says that walking outside can help cats to develop their confidence.
In order to protect the animal, you should train him inside the house. The cat must get used to the leash in his own time. As long as your cat gets comfortable on the leash, you can bring him to a real walk.
How can I train my cat?
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals gives some tips to teach your cat to walk on a leash.
Try to make a connection between the leash and the harness and something pleasant to your cat, like his food. You can also allow your cat to smell the harness. While doing this, offer him a treat.
After this, you will have to make your cat get used to the handling. Snacks can be great allies on this. Hold a snack while holding and praising your cat. Release your cat and give him the treat. You may repeat this for several days.
After this step, you may put the harness on your cat but without attaching the leash. Once more you can use a treat to distract your cat. Leave the harness on just for a while. Don’t forget to remove it as soon as your cat become uninterested on the treat. This training can also be repeated for several days. Treats can be used to distract your cat when he becomes distressed but if this happens don’t insist on the training.
When your cat feels comfortable with the harness, you may put the leash on him. As soon as he feels relaxed with the leash on, you may walk with him around the house. Don’t pull him and allow him to go wherever he wants while you praise him. This must be also repeated for several days. When you consider your cat is ready to go outside, you may take him. You can also invite your cat for a walk along with you. Call him with a nice voice (don’t be aggressive if he doesn’t’ follow you). You can keep on using treats to control his behaviour. You should not pull your cat by the leash but you may apply a soft pressure to lead his way.
Some other recommendations from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are: to set a proper schedule to go for a walk with your cat; don’t allow that your cat goes out on his own, in order to decrease the risk of a getaway. If your cat is crying don’t put the leash on him; you must wait that he feels relaxed to do so.
Never leave your cat alone and unattended on the outside, even if you think it is only for a few minutes. There are many dangerous situations that may happen. Your cat won’t defend himself all alone.
After these steps your cat is probably 100% ready to walk outside. If you have difficulties on the training, it is important to know that there are specialists on animals’ behaviour that might help you. Training and walking with cats is good for them (and for you); in fact, cats also appreciate to be with people. Nevertheless, it may be more difficult than training a dog, since cats are not used to obey their owners in the way that dogs usually do.
Many specialists believe that cats are also able to learn certain behaviours and many experts believe also that your cat can benefit a lot with a good walk routine. His health will get better, as well as his happiness. But there are some things you shouldn’t forget. Don’t force your cat’s behaviour, give him time to adjust his reactions. Choose a good collar and leash. Always have some treats to give to your cat to give a positive reinforcement to his good behaviours. But in these case you will have to go for longer walks with him in order to avoid obesity! Give your cat the time he needs to learn how to walk and behave on the outside. Try to choose good places that your cat likes for him to enjoy the walk. You may talk to him and praise him too. And also very important: other animals. Never leave your cat alone on the outside. Other animals may appear and hurt him.
Always choose good places to go and enjoy the walk!