Walking Your Cat? How to Get Started!
When people think of walking their pets, it’s long strolls with dogs that comes to mind. Rarely do you see a cat owner putting Fluffy on a leash and taking her for a walk! The possibility is something few pet owners have considered.
But when you do give it some more thought, walking your cat makes sense. Like dogs, cats need exercise to stay fit and healthy and to boost their chances of living as long as possible. A good walk can also help to calm a pet down. If your kitty loves to jump on things she’s not supposed to and scratch at everything in sight, a walk could allow your cat to channel its energy in a safe and productive way.
Which cats can you walk?
Taking a walk isn’t for every feline, however. As any kitty lover will tell you, cats come with all sorts of personalities. Some love people, love attention, and curious enough that they could prove that old adage true: “Curiosity killed the cat.” They’ll bounce around, nuzzle any human they see, and run around the house. These types of cats are perfect for walking. They’ll love the change of scenery, the new sights and smells.
Then there are the antisocial or skittish kitties. These felines hiss at strangers, keep to themselves, and experience anxiety whenever their environments change. They should generally not be walked, and, unfortunately, it’s unlikely that you’ll get an antisocial cat to change, although you might try walking it around the house just to see how it reacts to the equipment.
Should you choose a harness or collar?
Is your cat a good candidate for walking? Great! Now you need to get Mittens the right equipment. A normal collar won’t work, as your kitty will slip out of it easily. Instead, buy a collar suited for walking a cat. They’re available both online and in pet stores.
A harness is also a great option. Harnesses tend to be safer than collars (although some don’t allow you to put ID tags on them). If your cat jumps and runs, for instance, a collar could choke it, so should consider buying a harness to walk your cat.
The next necessary pieces of equipment are a proper leash and ID tags for your collar or harness. These help keep your cat as close to you as you like and prevent it from staying lost should it go too far!
Another important part of the equation is your cat’s health. Be sure Fluffy is up-to-date on her vaccinations before venturing into the great outdoors.
Slow is the way to go.
Once you strap walking equipment on your cat, make sure you give it time to get accustomed to it before you take it out for a walk. Even if your cat is outgoing, don’t go on an hour-long jaunt right off the bat.
Start out by walking around the house. Then go for a short stroll around the yard. This step is especially important for cats that don’t spend time outside, and it might be a long (but very necessary) part in the process.
Work your way up to the park. An outgoing cat still can get stressed by a sudden change in environment, so make sure that Fluffy is used to walking before you go on any adventures.
While you walk your cat, keep an eye out for any signs of stress. If your cat begins meowing, flattens its ears, sticks up its tail, or trembles, it’s probably nervous. Try petting your cat to comfort it. If your cat won’t even allow you to pet it, return home and allow your cat to readjust. You can always try again, but remember to take it at a pace that your furry friend is comfortable with
For most cats, a walk is worth a try! Just remember to have all the right equipment, take it slow, and look for any signs of stress. Check with your vet if you have any specific questions about the health and safety of walking your feline. Your newest and best walking companion could just be your cat!
The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital
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