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How to Walk a Cat (and Live to Tell About It)


Add a Leash


Once your cat is accepting the harness, let her wear it around the house, doing her normal activities. Gradually increase the amount of time your cat is left in the harness. You can even feeding her while she’s wearing the harness. Next, attach the leash to the harness, allowing her to drag the leash around. This is to get her used to the weight of the leash, but remember to keep an eye on her while she is dragging the leash. You don’t want her to get it tangled up on anything.


You can then graduate to walking around inside while holding the leash. Don’t pull on the leash and don’t try to force her to follow you at first, follow her lead instead. Every now and then stop and call her to you, giving her a treat and praise when she comes.


Finally, when she seems comfortable on the leash indoors, it is time to go outdoors. Begin with a short walk outside, maybe just as far as outside the door where your cat can sniff around and start getting used to the sounds and scents. After doing this a few times, you might take a short stroll around the block. Before you go any farther than the immediate area, get to know your neighborhood to make sure that your neighbors do not allow their dogs to roam freely -- or so that you know which areas to avoid because of roaming dogs. Choose the quietest and safest areas for your cat to walk in, so that the experience is pleasurable for both of you.


How to Walk a Cat Safely


Although your cat’s usual collar does not need to be removed, it is not part of the harness system. However, you should leave the collar on, with its ID in place, just in case your cat gets loose while you are out.


For the first few walks, as your cat is getting used to being outside, you might want to take along a soft (or hard) carrier, just in case your cat has a panic attack, or in case you unexpectedly come up against a free roaming dog. A panicked or threatened cat is not going to want to be held in arms until it gets home.


This will work best if your cat has been spayed or neutered. An unneutered male cat may be more likely to try to escape the harness or get out of control while outside, and an unspayed female cat may be attacked by feral male cats.


Setting a regular time to walk each day will give your cat something to look forward to. Try to stay consistent.


Unlike dogs, cats cannot be tethered to a pole while you step into a shop, even for just a few minutes. Your cat might panic and get itself tangled in the leash, or it may be attacked by a dog and not be able to escape.


Image: Krikit / via Flickr



Comments  8

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  • My cats love walks
    02/05/2014 11:08pm

    I found that the vest type harness works best and that perseverence is the key. Start with only a minute or two and sooner or later they find something in the yard to interest them. The you can go out for longer periods, weather permitting. One of my cats goes to the shed where the chipmunks hide; another goes to the edge of the yard to "mark" territory. Another goes to chew on catmint and yet another just loves to roll on the patio and look up at the sky. I continued to take my cats out each day into November ( for a few minutes each until it became too dark by the time I got home from work. They like it so much they jockey for position in front of the door to try to be the one who gets to go first.

  • Storm 6mths
    02/26/2014 04:03am

    I have a six months old kitten that I hand raised since the age of six days so I could not leave him at home. I did some researched on the internet and found quite a few articles on hand raising kittens and walking them. So I started him off on a harness which he loves. The only time I can remove it with great difficulty is when he takes a bath. I started walking him at about 3 weeks in the house and around the yard. Later I took him to the shop and even walked him down the busy road and it always amazes me how people respond to him. One lady stopped me and told me that I was abusing my kitten and picked him rubbing him, I thought she was going to walk away with him but then I explained to her that he has been walking around for weeks with a lead & harness and there is no harm. She was really surprised and put him down. He started to run around and then when I started to walk he walked right along. He even had a beach walk at Camps Bay beach and turned a lot of heads. My friends tell me that he is not normal or that he is more human than cat. The funny part is that he actually calls my daughter by her name when he wants water as well which by the way he only drinks right from running tap.

  • 01/05/2016 01:32pm

    never let anyone pick up your cat or dog-- it can turn nasty in a heartbeat - either the pet bites the human or the human can easily and quickly abuse and injure the animals. You don't need to explain your actions either-- you are walking your pet and the h with what other people think or say

  • Greycie survived
    11/06/2014 04:36pm

    Greycie was a stray that I took in about a year ago. She was someone else's cat for sure as she jumped into my arms when I was sitting in my yard. Her previous owners must have let her out from time to time but w/ a lot of feral cats in my neighborhood, I was fearful to let her out as she came to me with an eye that required medical attention from a dust up with one of them. She longingly looked out the window and I was afraid she would run out, so I decided to leash train her. The vest was a little cumbersome for her & threw her balance of. The harness is much better for her. It took time but does she ever like to go out. Can't say she is thrilled w/ the harness but when she sees it now, she runs to the door and waits. It took a couple of wks but she is just great out there. Watch carefully, they are escape artists. Stay behind them or to the side. Happy walks.

  • Going on 12 years.....
    01/05/2016 11:11am

    I've been walking my cat Ty for over 12 years now (he's 13 years old). Other than days where I'm out of town, we haven't missed a day yet. We go out in the rain, the snow, and even when it's really cold. We always take our walk after the sun goes down--that's what he prefers--and we generally walk for about 20 minutes. I look forward to it as much as he does. This is a good article, but I also put together a detailed instruction manual here: http://catswithanaltitude.com/was-that-a-cat-on-a-leash.html
    My article takes a slightly different approach to harnessing, and offers a few more suggestions for introducing your cat to the routine, and what to do once you step outside. Hope it's helpful to others who wish to give this a try!

  • Careful with the harness,
    01/05/2016 01:31pm

    make sure the cat cannot back out of our pull out of it. Collars can choke, and harnesses are safer.

    While walking with the cat watch out for - Drunks - mean people -- dogs, on or off leash. Even if you are holding the cat in your arms, the dog(s) and even free-roaming territorial cats may try to attack both of you.

  • Retractable leashes
    01/05/2016 01:36pm

    can break and your pet can run into traffic and be killed or lost in a heartbeat. The retractor may stick and there you are with a cat 10 feet away from you and a dog or car or someone on a bicycle bearing down on your pet. Leashes are long enough and can easily be bunched up to rein in the pet.

  • writer credit
    01/06/2016 05:03pm

    I'd like to quote from this piece for publication and therefore need the writer's name. Thank you.

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