How to Take Your Cat for a Walk

Many indoor cats long for the outside world but let’s face it, it is easier to care for your kitten INSIDE your house (plus, there is less worry involved!). My cat, Norman, was once an outdoor cat. When I decided that being an outdoor, creature of the night was no longer safe for him, I turned him into an indoor-only pet. Some days, Norman sits at the window for hours gazing outside. For all I know he is content and simply watching birds, however, I can’t help but wonder if he really misses the great outdoors and is secretly planning his great escape.

The solution, let’s go for a walk!

There is really no way to tell if your cat or kitten will enjoy going for a walk unless you give it a try. The first thing you must do is buy a cat harness that is specially made for cats. The best type of harness to buy is the type that fastens on the side. A harness that fastens underneath your cat may be difficult to put on (you may be in for a battle…kind of like putting a cat into a cat carrier).  The harness you purchase should fit properly…not to lose or your kitten could escape! Once you have put the harness on your cat or kitten, you should be able to slip two fingers between it and the kitten. If you can do this, then the harness is on correctly and not too tight. The harness should also have plastic latches that easily click into place.

Make sure the latches work properly and don’t easily unlatch, after all, you don’t want kitty to run away while on your walk! Play it safe and don’t buy the cheapest harness on the shelf…buy one that is safe and trustworthy! Oh, one other note, cat harnesses do not have safety release latches as cat collars do. Never leave your cat or kitten unsupervised while they are wearing their walking harness!

Before you actually leave the house for your great outdoor adventure, allow your kitten or cat some time to adjust to the harness. Most cats will fall to the ground when you first put the harness on them. They do this in an attempt to claw their way out of the device (if the harness is on properly he should not be able to do so). Next, attach the leash to the harness and allow the kitty to drag it around the room for a few minutes. Though this may sound silly, this exercise will help him to become comfortable.

Now that your kitten is safely in his harness…you are ready to walk! But wait one little second! Have you thought about where you are going to walk? Is your neighborhood an ideal walking location?  If you live in a neighborhood that has a lot of traffic, loud children playing, or stray dogs running around, you might want to forget about walking your kitty friend altogether. In order for your walk to be a success, you will need a peaceful walking location as cats (and kittens) tend to scare easily. Also, it is a good idea, to begin with very short walks so that your cat can slowly adjust.

After each walk, take off the harness and leash and praise your puss! Overall, you AND your cat should enjoy the walking experience. Never force a reluctant cat to go on walks. This is generally not a good idea and, trust me, you will not have fun. Remember, cats are not dogs (shocker, I know). They will not walk in perfect formation nor will they heal. Let your cat explore and smell things while outside. If he begins to get uncomfortable or stressed, take him back inside and try again another day.

Exercise is a very important part of kitten and cat care. If your cat loves to go for walks…congratulations! However, not all cats will be keen on the idea. If your cat does not like walking, think of some other fun things you can do INSIDE the house. It is very important that you keep your cat fit, healthy, and entertained!