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Walking Your Cat: Do Or Don’t?

January 15 2024

January is Walk Your Dog Month. Actually, January’s pet holidays are pretty much focused on our canine companions. It’s also Train Your Dog Month and Unchain A Dog Month. We know, walks are usually something we do with dogs, but why should Fido have all the fun? Some of our feline pals actually quite enjoy it. A local Conway, SC vet goes over some of the ins and outs of walking your cat  in this article.

Is It Good To Walk Your Cat?

There actually are some pawesome benefits to taking Fluffy for a walk. For one thing, your kitty will get a good workout in. That’s helpful for cats of all ages! The enrichment is also beneficial. Cats may be lazy, but they still need some sort of entertainment. Fluffy can get quite bored just staring at the same four walls all day! The mental stimulation your pet gets from sniffing things and watching birds and squirrels can go a long way towards keeping her happy.

Safety is another benefit. Walking Fluffy on a leash is a much, much safer option than letting her out. Our feline pals are quite small and fragile. As soon as your kitty goes outdoors, she’s exposed to many different threats, such as weather, wild animals, cars, weather, parasites, and even other cats.

What Are The Downsides To Walking Your Cat?

There are a few cons to consider here. First and foremost? Not all kitties are going to enjoy it. Some cats may be nervous at first, but then come to enjoy those strolls. However, others will just find going outdoors stressful and frightening. 

Our advice? Give it a try if you want, but don’t force the issue. If your furry pal has always been content as an indoor kitty, it may not be a good idea to expose her to the outdoors. In some cases, it could spark unwanted behavior. For instance, if Fluffy decides that she really likes it outside, she may become quite demanding and focused on getting out, and may start trying to escape.

There’s also a chance of your kitty picking up parasites or diseases. You’ll need to be sure to stay up to date with Fluffy’s vaccinations and parasite control! Ask your Conway, SC veterinarians for specific advice.

Last but not least, there is a possibility of your pet getting hurt or slipping away. Mishaps can happen at any time. There could be a dog on the loose, or you could accidentally let go of the leash. That’s not to say that these things will happen, of course; just that they could.

How Long Should I Walk My Cat?

We don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer for this one, but there are a few things to keep in mind. The big thing is not to tire your pet out. Even if you’re walking at a slow pace, Fluffy may have to run to keep up with you on those little legs, and could tire out quickly.

Once she starts lagging, or tries to sit or lay down, it’s probably safe to say that she’s had enough. 

It’s important to know that panting is a huge red flag in kitties. Cats don’t normally pant, so if you see this, it’s a sign that Fluffy has overexerted herself. We’d recommend offering water, and then immediately carrying her home.

What Gear Should I Get For Walking My Cat?

A good, comfortable harness and a leash will do it. Don’t try to use a leash with a regular collar. This could be dangerous if your kitty was to get stuck on something!

How Do I Teach My Cat To Walk On A Leash?

At first, try letting Fluffy wear her harness indoors. Only do this when you’re there to keep an eye on her. It may take your furry bff time to get accustomed to her gear. That’s only to be expected. Once she’s gotten used to the harness, attach a leash and let her drag it around.

Keep a very close eye on your feline buddy, and never leave her unattended. As we all know, cats are very playful. There’s a good chance that your furball will try to play with her leash. You don’t want her getting tangled up in it!

How Do I Start Walking My Cat?

Once Fluffy has gotten used to wearing her gear, you can take her for a test stroll. (Note: before you do this, make sure that she is microchipped, wearing ID tags, and is current on her vaccines and parasite control products.)

We’d usually advise that you start by just taking her outside. However, this somewhat depends on where you live. A fenced yard is ideal, but a quiet sidewalk or front yard also works. 

At first, just see how Fluffy reacts.  If she seems confused but interested, give her a few minutes and see what she does. If she seems scared or nervous, don’t force her to stay outside. Take her inside, and offer her a window seat instead.

Don’t venture very far on that first walk. There will be time for explorations later.

Where Should I Walk My Cat?

Always put your kitty’s safety first. Don’t take your feline pal near busy roads, or in areas where she is likely to run into loose dogs. Rivers and cliffs are also potentially dangerous.

You may also want to stay away from trees. Kitties often instinctively climb up them when they feel scared. Fluffy also sometimes climbs trees for the fun of it. If your pet was raised indoors, she may find going up instinctive. Cats’ claws are also curved in a way that makes this quite easy. However, going down is a whole other story: cats need to learn that.

How Do I Keep My Cat Safe On Walks?

Start by making sure your pet is current on her vaccines and parasite control. Fluffy should also be microchipped and wearing ID tags. GPS collars or tags are not a bad idea, either. 

Always make sure that your furry pal’s harness is comfortable and secure, and keep a good grip on the leash.

Toxins are another concern. Never let Fluffy eat plants or grass that could be unsafe, or walk through areas that may have been treated with chemicals.

You’ll also want to stay vigilant about things like loose dogs, bicyclists, or other potential hazards. Ask your Conway, SC veterinarian for safety tips. 

What Kind Of Cats Enjoy Walks?

Our feline buddies are all different, so it really comes down to the individual kitty. That said, you may find that some are more naturally adventurous than others. Some of the cats that often enjoy being walked include the Siamese, Bengal, Abyssinian, Manx, and Persian. Many shelter cats and former strays may also appreciate it.

In conclusion: Some cats really enjoy going for strolls, but walking isn’t necessarily the best option for all cats. If your feline companion is weak, frail, extremely shy, and/or has always been an indoor pet, it may be best to just let sleeping cats lie. Kitties that formerly lived or were allowed out may also enjoy the exercise and stimulation. Frisky and athletic cats may also enjoy it.

Do you have questions about your cat’s health or care? Contact us, your Conway, SC pet hospital, today!

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