Walking Cats on a Leash: Is It a Bad Idea?

walking cats on a leash is it a bad idea

Many people are starting to walk their cat on a leash, but is it a bad idea?  The answer to this is it depends.  Before walking your cat on a leash you need to make sure you have a fail proof harness or leash, a good walking ground, and a good understanding of how your cat reacts with it’s environment. 

For as long as we know it has been normal to see someone walking down the street with a dog on a leash.  If you were to see someone on the street with a cat on a leash what would you think?  I bet you think it would be weird.  More and more people are beginning to do more outdoor activities with their cats and walking them on a leash is one of them.

So is walking cats on a leash a bad idea?  The short answer to this is yes and no.  If you are planning on walking your cat then there are some things you must keep in mind.  The main thing you need to keep in mind is where you will be walking them.  use your best judgement of your surroundings to whether or not it will be a good idea to walk your cat there.

Start Them Young

Walking outside with your cat or when you are out adventuring can be an awesome experience for you and your cat.  If you want your cat to be able to walk on a leash comfortably then you have to start them young  The best advice is to start teaching them at a young age when they are a kitten.  How does the saying go?  You can’t teach an old cat new tricks.  Or was it dog?  Well that’s besides the point.

The message I’m trying to get across is that it is easier to train a cat the younger they are.  An older cat is usually stuck in their old stubborn ways.  I’m not saying it’s impossible to train a senior cat to walk on a leash, but it definitely won’t be an easy task.

One of the main concerns you should be worried about when walking your cat in public is their safety.  I’m not talking about their surroundings, but their safety as in secured to a leash.  Some cats are better than Houdini himself and can wriggle or squirm out of almost any collar.  This is why you need more than just a collar

Make sure to use some type of escape proof cat harness and leash combo like this one from amazon.  It can be very difficult to contain your cat once he has slipped out of his leash and has darted for the hills.  This makes using an escape proof harness almost invaluable if you value the safety of your cat when walking outdoors.

If you would like a more detailed explanation about how to train your cat to walk on a leash, then you can read my article 10 steps to train your cat to walk on a leash.

Find a Safe Place to Walk Your Cat

Lets face the facts.  It’s not every day that you see someone walking a cat down the street.  If you are like me, it’s more like a few times a year.  This is because it is not considered normal to walk a cat.  Cat’s are a lot more jumpy and finicky than dogs.  Cat’s are also scared a lot easier than dogs.  Although it may not be normal to walk your cat, this doesn’t mean that you can’t.

When deciding to take your cat for a walk it’s best to make sure you choose an area that you know will be free of other animals.  Particularly dogs.  Dogs and cats go together like oil and water.  They just don’t mix very well.

Here’s an example of both where to bring and where not to bring your cat.

A Low Population Secluded Area

It’s best to start walking your cat in an area with low population.  Low population from people, cars, other animals, and whatever else may be in your city.  What is a low population, secluded area you ask?  You can try taking your cat for a walk in the hills somewhere behind your home or city.  These back hills are usually populated with mostly plants, grass, and birds.  If you need to travel with your cat in a car then you can read my article about traveling in a car with a cat so you can prepare yourself on what you need for it to be a successful trip.  Even if you are only going down the street, it is still essential to be prepared for what can happen.

The main reason for walking your cat in a secluded area is so you can see how you cat responds to the different types of stimuli while outdoors.  Your cat will probably act like a toddler and start wondering off after everything from flowers, trees, plants, walls, fences, gates, or anything else that’s shiny and eye catching.  This is also a good time to see how your cat responds to the different insects and birds that may be flying around in the sky.

Once you start to feel more comfortable with walking your cat, you can slowly ease your way into other areas.  Even if you feel confident in your cat’s walking abilities, there are still some areas that should be avoided.  One of the places that you should avoid walking your cat in are parks.

Can You Walk Your Cat at the Park?

If you were planning on taking your cat to a simple place like a park don’t fool yourself.  Most parks are populated with pet owners that are walking their dogs.  For as long as we can remember cats and dogs go together like water and oil.  It just doesn’t mix.  Walking your cat at the park is just asking for something bad to happen.  Not only can it stir up an old fashioned cat vs dog fight, but it can also cause a big scene.  Parks are also usually filled with kids of different ages.  It would be devastating if a kid were to get in the middle of a dog and cat fight.

Another thing to note is that some cities actually have parks designated for dogs called “Dog Parks”.  In today’s society it isn’t the norm to walk your cat.  I don’t know any person that would have the audacity to bring their cat do a dog park so that is totally out of the question.

I don’t know about you but I have probably only seen a handful of people in my life ever walk a cat and it wasn’t even near a park.

What About Walking Your Cat in the City?

Walking your cat in the city can be a horrible idea.  Cats are known to be the skittish type of animal.  Have you ever seen what happens if you place a cucumber behind an unsuspecting cat?  Now imagine your cat walking down the street and a loud car or motorcycle decides to speed past the two of you.  I can picture it now, a cat jumping 100 feet into the air because of motorcycle driver.  Not too mention other loud noises like cars honking, construction in the street and sidewalks.

Don’t forget about joggers.  A lot of people actually like to go running with their dog in the city so that would be another situation you would encounter.  If a dog were to ever get loose from their owner they would go straight for your cat.  The risks involved with walking your cat in the city simply outweigh the benefits.

Not Every Cat Is an Adventure Cat

What is an adventure cat?  An adventure cat is a cat that does things other than lying around the house.  An adventure cat will typically do things with their owners like hiking, boating, traveling, and any other activities that are outside of the house.  When your cat manages to slip out the front door that Timmy left open doesn’t necessarily make your cat an adventure cat because they escape the house a few times a year.  If you want to learn more about adventuring with your cat you can read my article here about how to hike with a cat as a good starting point.

This also goes for walking your cat.  Not every cat will like or want to be walked.  Your cat may be the type that will just sit there until you drag them across the floor.  A leash and harness still has its uses.  They come in handy if you want to have your cat out of a carrier but need them secured.  A normal place this would likely happen is at the vets office.

A Cat Is Not a Dog

If you do decide to adventure outdoors with a cat on a leash, don’t expect them to react the same way a dog would.  Your cat will most likely be distracted by everything around him.  He may also do sudden movements or jump if he is startled.  Cats will get startled by even the most simplest of noises if they are unexpected.  This is just the plain nature of cats.  Your cat may even freeze, try to climb up your leg, or even attempt to hide in the nearest bush.  It’s also a good idea to carry treats with you if you are walking a cat.  Giving them treats can help keep them calm and reduce anxiousness.

Final Thoughts

Walking a cat on a leash can be both a good or bad idea.  It’s a great idea if you are out alone hiking somewhere or in a small place like a vets office.  On the contrary it would be a horrible idea to walk your cat at the park or down the city boulevard.  There’s both a time and a place when it comes to using a leash on your cat.  If you use common sense and good judgement then you shouldn’t really have anything to worry about.

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