Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Can You Walk Your Cat On A Lead?

As a cat owner I hate to be parted with my beloved tiger and ginger boy. I can’t wait to get home to see them at the end of the day. I even get excited when I have a night out cancelled so that I can cosy up with them indoors. My little feline angels are a big part of my family. They’re there when I need a furry cuddle. They pick up my moods and comfort me whether I want it or not. Sleep on my head at night and sit on my stomach at 4 am for no apparent reason. I love all of their kitty traits, so why not have them join me in everyday life as I do with my dogs?
Well to start with I would have needed to begin their lead training from kitten hood. There’s no way they could cope with being out as adult cats now. It would cause them serious stress and possibly lead them to have panic attacks. Obviously as a kitten they don’t have any preconceived ideas of what they are or aren’t allowed to do, so this is the ideal time to try. Be prepared for being stopped every 5 minutes as it’s still a very unique thing to see on the streets these days.

Patience will be required and don’t forget that a cat and a dog have very different characteristics. A dog tends to be more loyal and will want to please their owners. Cats on the other hand, as we’re all aware, are their own bosses and have a wild streak in their DNA anyway. So don’t expect complete obedience all the time and be realistic as to where you will be able to walk your cat. I certainly wouldn’t be taking them shopping and expecting them to cope with being out on the streets with me for the day. However a trip in the car to visit friends or a trip to a small local park, aren’t out of the realms possibility.

Choose a light comfortable body harness, preferably not a collar as they will easily wriggle out of it. The lead that attaches to the harness must be light weight (not a dog lead) and have a very strong clip. I would suggest one that is approximately 5 feet long. Now that you’ve bought your items you’ll need to familiarise your cat with them. Start by leaving the harness next to their sleeping area for a few days. Encourage them to sniff it, play with it, anything to get them used to the smell and feel of it.

The next step is to get it on them. The best time to fasten the harness on is just before feeding. The chances are they will be more focused on dinner coming than what you’re doing. Put it on loosely, feed them and then see how long they will tolerate it. Distract them with a game to keep them occupied and then repeat the same procedure each day, slowly fastening it to comfortably fit your cats body. Hope fully you will find the harness stays on longer and longer each day.
Then you will need to start introducing the lead. Again leave the lead near your cat so they can get used to it and let them play with it if it helps. Now you’re ready for your first walk. Start indoors and be patient. Use encouraging words as you begin to lead your cat around the room. Just like a puppy learning leash training they will need to hear from you that they are doing well. Don’t yank the lead but keep it short so that they learn to stay close to you. Of course a cat outside on the lead will have many attractive things catching their eye. Birds, other cats, trees to climb, so getting them used to a small length on the lead is a good idea.
If you have a back garden start their outside walk there for about a week. Then if they seem comfortable being on a lead you can progress to a small trip outside. Don’t start off on a main busy road, remember this is a whole new world to them. Go somewhere calm and quiet for a small amount of time and build up over the weeks. Hopefully in time you will have a cat that can join you for walks on a lead.

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