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Walking Cats on a Lead

Cats can be trained to walk on a leash but it needs a lot of patience and persistence and although they will happily wander around the garden or a park, they are unlikely to want to go for a walk around the block.  Walking a cat is not like walking a dog but it is a lot of fun all the same.

Getting a cat to walk on a lead is not as odd as it may sound.  Many owners who travel with their cats will take it for a walk around the caravan park so that it can get some exercise and feel the grass beneath its paws.  Others only have indoor cats but still want it to experience the great outdoors safe in the knowledge that it won’t run away or be hit by a car.  Plus, it’s a terrific way to introduce a cat to a new house in an area that it has just moved into.

It’s far easier to start training a cat when it is a kitten than try to teach an adult to walk on a lead.  Kittens are much more easily coaxed into trying something new and they have not yet developed any particular behaviours that makes them think they won’t enjoy it.

Cat tethering is quite different to that of a dog.  The cat’s body is so flexible that it will easily squirm out of a collar and it will resent being pulled around by its neck.  A harness which goes around the neck as well as behind the front legs will allow the lead to be attached near the shoulder blades, making it more comfortable and secure for the cat.

Cat leads are lighter than dog ones which put too much weight on the cat when it is walking.  Choose a lead that is as long as possible and even consider investing in a retractable lead since the cat will want to wander off a little bit to explore the area around it.

LEAD TRAINING

Before putting the harness on to the cat, let it get used to it by leaving it near its bed or by playing with it.  Then, wait until just before dinner time and loosely put the harness onto the cat but expect a strange reaction.  The cat might walk strangely, roll onto the floor or even jump into the air.  All of this is quite normal and the cat should soon calm down.   Leave the harness on whilst the cat has his dinner and if it doesn’t settle down, distract it with a game.  At this stage, only leave the harness on for a few minutes and repeat the same procedure for several days.

Once the cat is quite comfortable wearing the loose harness, tighten it so that it is fitted correctly.  This will mean that it is quite snug but two fingers will still fit underneath it.  Let the cat wear the harness like this for short periods of time for a few more days until it is again comfortable and then introduce the lead.

Attach the lead to the harness and wait for yet another strange reaction then allow the cat to wander around dragging the lead behind it.  After a while, try holding on to the lead but keep the tension loose so that the cat can still go where it wants to.

After a week of practicing indoors, it is time to walk outside with the cat but stick to the backyard first and allow the cat the opportunity to go wherever it wants to.  When the cat is comfortable in the backyard it is time to venture out to the front, keeping the lead loose and allowing it to go at its own pace and in its own direction.

Don’t ever expect the cat to heal or walk in a straight line and don’t be surprised if it has a mind of its own.  Some cats are happy to be led; others want to be the leader.  So long as the intention is to give the cat some exercise outdoors and not to get from point A to point B, this should be quite an enjoyable experience for everyone.

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