Dogs aren’t the only pets that can enjoy a walk in the park. It’s also become increasingly popular for cat owners to strap their feline friends into harnesses and leashes for an outdoor adventure.
Since January is National Walk Your Pet Month, it’s the ideal time to introduce the activity to your favorite feline. So, here are a few dos and don’ts for walking a cat to share in the New Year:
DO Consider a Cat’s Temperament
Unfortunately, not every cat is cut out for walking on a leash. So, before investing time and money into the activity, take a moment to determine if your feline has the right attitude. For example, do they show interest in going outside? Do they often sit at the window or try to sneak out the door?
DO Choose a Well-Fitted Harness
Cats are amazing escape artists, so you’ll need more than a simple collar to safely secure them to a leash. Instead, invest in a harness that is comfortable and fits snugly (it should allow two fingers to fit between the harness and the cat).
DON’T Jump Right In
Any cat owners know that cats don’t like change. So, introduce the concept of going for walks in small increments. Start off by simply letting them smell the harness and leash. Then, try wearing the harness and then taking walks on a leash indoors before moving to short durations outside. Each step should also be accompanied by plenty of praise and treats for positive reinforcement!
DON’T Force a Cat If It’s Unhappy
Let your cat take the lead—literally—when first starting your walking adventures. Encourage them to explore and get used to walking on a leash at their own pace. Any attempts to aggressively tug the leash or force them to move will just bolster their dislike of the activity. Also, pay attention to their body language; if they seem distressed at any point, stop. Maybe they’re just better suited as a full-time indoor kitty.