With the growing popularity of pets in apartments, it’s not uncommon to see a cat being walked around urban areas. And while most cats won’t tolerate a leash, there are some that love to get out and about.
Introducing A Cat Harness
So if you think your cat is game to hit the big, wide world, you’ll need a harness and a leash. Collars are not advisable as your little escape artist can easily slip out of it.
Measure your cat’s neck and girth, just behind her front legs. If your cat is small you’ll need a cat-specific harness. If she’s on the larger size, a puppy or toy dog size will potentially fit. As for the leash, one designed for cats or puppies will work best.
Get your cat used to the harness by leaving it near her food bowl or bed so she associates it with positive experiences. The next step is to take her for a few walks around the house, so she gets used to the feel of the harness and walking on a leash.
Like any new activity, the earlier you introduce your cat, the better.
The big day has arrived and you’re ready to venture outside. Take it slowly, as it could go either way. She’s bound to be scared of new noises and smells – so be prepared to bring her home if she shows signs of stress.
Hopefully it will be a pleasurable experience for you both, and another wonderful way to get even closer to your adventurous cat. As it was for Lana and Nicholas, and their cat Moxie.
Cat lovers Lana and Nicholas have trained Moxie to walk on a leash. As a result, she’s regularly out and about, and has become a popular personality around the neighbourhood. We asked Lana a few questions about how it all came about.
Q. Why did you decide to start walking Moxie?
We thought it'd be fun for us and the cat, especially since she'd otherwise be an indoor cat.
Q. How did you train her to walk on a lead?
We started by getting her used to wearing the harness for short periods. Once she was comfortable, we attached the lead and took her outside. We took very slow steps, with gradual exposure.
Q. How did she react the first time she went out?
She was a bit shaky, but curious. That encouraged us to continue.
Q. What does she enjoy about it now?
I think she likes to go out with us, and also enjoys all the sights, smells and sounds.
Q. Does she do her business while she’s out?
Yes! It can be tricky because we need a spot with soft soil and privacy. A few failed attempts means we’re often looking for new spots.
Q. Did you buy special equipment?
We bought a harness and a lead.
Q. How do people react?
They love it! People want to talk to us and pat her. There’s also lots of pointing and sneaky photos.
Q. Can you take her to pubs and cafes?
As long as it’s outdoor seating. One pub has a cat and they let us take Moxie inside with us.
Q. Does she ever get scared?
Yes, loud traffic like big trucks can scare her. Sometimes she’s hesitant when people walk towards us on the footpath, so she’ll stop and wait till they pass.
Q. If someone is thinking about trying it, what would you advise?
Go for it! And be patient. It starts really slow and you think it'll never happen, and then it does. There's a lot of carrying, even with the most outdoorsy cat. And check out adventurecats.org