Today it’s becoming increasingly common to see cats being walked on a lead. There are various reasons for this trend. While the motives are understandable, we should ask ourselves whether the cat’s best interest is being served by being on a lead.
It’s not hard to see why walking a cat on a lead might seem like a good idea. Owners want their pets to enjoy the outside world in safety. It’s a choice usually made by people who don’t want their cats to venture out alone into a hazardous environment. The potential dangers might include busy roads, busy pedestrian areas or places where there are lots of dogs. More positively, some cat lovers see walking with their feline friend as a great way of strengthening the bond between themselves and their pet. Others want to offer their house cat as many variety of experience as possible.
However, walking cats on a lead may cause them stress. For example, it prevents them from following their natural impulses, such as hunting or exploring the environment. A cat on a leash is also unable to follow its instinct to run and hide in stressful situations, such as meeting dogs, hearing loud or unfamiliar noises, or encountering traffic or pedestrians. Cats are highly territorial too, so being repeatedly exposed to new environments may cause them stress and anxiety. While cats with nervous dispositions may try running away if frightened while on the lead, which may cause them injuries.
Anyone who likes the idea of taking their house cat outside for a spot of fresh air should ask themselves if there is a better way to do this for example by building an outdoor pen for their cat to use during the day. Furthermore, some cats are very happy to stay indoors and unlike dogs, our feline friends can relieve themselves indoors – all they need is a litter box. We can also provide for our cats’ physical and mental well-being indoors by providing enrichment to encourage natural behaviours or playing games with them.
If your cat develops a taste for walks on a lead, it will start demanding to be taken out. If you fail to satisfy this demand, you should expect some unwelcome consequences, such as scratch marks on the furniture or urine puddles around the home.
Let your cat lead the way!
Walking your cat on a leash can be a viable option, but the conditions have to be right. Your cat must have a confident nature and be open to new experiences. Never attach the leash to a collar: use a well-fitting harness instead. Let your cat get used to walking on a leash. Go for walks in quiet, dog-safe areas. And last but not least, let your cat lead the way!