It seems that almost every day and every month is a new national something or another. National coffee day, national take your daughter to work day, breast cancer awareness month; something. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise to anyone that January is actually National Walk Your Pet month for anyone with a dog or cat. Wait…cat? That’s right; it’s actually a lot more common than you might think to walk your cat, and that is why we have some amazing tips that will have your cat walking around on a leash like a pro in no time at all.
If you’re a little unsure whether or not your cat wants to or even needs to be on a leash for a walk, it’s a good idea. Cats need exercise, too, and they need you to ensure they remain safe and protected from predators, traffic and simply wandering away as they walk. Here’s to getting a little healthier, a bit fitter and getting your cat out of the house and onto a leash in the New Year. Here are a few tips that ensure you can take your cat on a successful walk on a leash.
Consider Your Cat
If your cat is shy, timid and doesn’t like new things, new people or new experiences, it might not be the best idea to stick her on a leash and take her out. I don’t know your cat, so I can’t make this decision for you. However, I can tell you that most cats that are already outgoing and brave as well as into trying new things are far more likely to learn to walk successfully on a leash than cats that are more timid and afraid.
Get a Cat Leash
Now that you’ve established you have an outgoing and adventurous cat, it’s time to decide whether or not you will take the cat on a walk. If you will, you’ll need the correct leash. It’s not like a dog’s leash that hooks to a collar. A cat needs a leash designed specifically for a cat so that it functions well and correctly. The cat has a very different body shape than a dog, as well as different needs. Head to your local pet store and find a leash designed specifically for a cat the size of your own.
Practice Makes Perfect
Before you take a cat out on a walk, get to practicing. The cat has likely never before been on a leash, which means she is not going to know what to expect. Of course, she might surprise you and rock this adventure on her first try, but we always recommend giving her some time and some practice before you take her out of the house on the leash for the first time. Even if it’s just to get to know the leash a bit, it often proves helpful.
Let the Cat Take the Lead
Your cat is the one in control here. You cannot take your cat out of the house on the leash until your cat tells you he or she is ready. You’ll know based on your cat’s body language and reaction to the leash, as well as the desire the cat has to go outside. Once the cat is comfortable on the leash, go ahead and venture out for your first trip. But, before you do that, pay attention to our next tip.
Your cat should be rewarded for behaving appropriately and following instructions. This means finding some treats the cat loves and getting some. Carry them with you, give them to the cat when he or she listens and make it a habit to reward your cat for appropriate behavior. It’s an incentive for your cat to listen and learn as you carry on this lesson on cat leash walking.
Stay Close to Home
On your very first outing, we recommend you spend some time walking close to home. Your cat is not used to being outside, and it’s not a good idea to take a long walk with a cat that might not do as well as you expect. Walk around the block enough to get used to the leash and being outside, but not so much you cannot get home quickly if the goings-on outside begin to stress out your cat too much.
Plan the Perfect Route
It’s all about location – but isn’t everything? You need to ensure your route does not take you anywhere that might make your cat nervous, such as a next to a dog park or a house with a dog that is not fenced in or restrained that likes to run around the yard all the time. He might be a great dog that never bothers you on your walks, but it’s imperative you remember not all nice dogs love smaller animals. Plan a good route that seems safe and away from the hustle and bustle of your normal route.
Get a Microchip
As a precautionary tale, we recommend you get one regardless. If your cat gets away on your walk, your leash breaks or you are scared and something happens to frighten your cat into running off, your chances of getting him or her back if found increase significantly. It’s a minor expense, and we highly recommend it.
Know Your Cat
Your cat is your cat; you know when he or she seems unhappy, stressed or out of sorts. When you begin noticing these traits in your cat’s personality on a walk, it’s time to get out of whatever situation you find yourself in and get to work making your cat feel more comfortable again. This might mean heading home, but perhaps next time will show some improvement.
Enjoy Your Walks
Don’t stress; you can cause your cat to experience undue stress if you find yourself feeling any of it. By relaxing and lowering your expectations, you might find your walk is more productive and a lot more enjoyable than you previously thought it might be.
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