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Walking your cat on a leash: tips and best practices

Perched on the window sill, your cat seems to dream of wide open spaces and new hunting grounds to conquer. You wish to accede to his desires while fearing for his safety... The idea of walking him on a leash has crossed your mind but you don't dare to take the plunge. You should know that this solution is perfectly feasible if you take certain precautions. Our advice.

Is your cat made for walking on a leash?

Walking on a leash is not adapted to all felines and ideally, they should be accustomed to it from a young age. If you feel that your cat's fearful temperament could cause him to panic and run away from the hustle and bustle of the street, it's best to abandon your plan. On the other hand, if he is curious about everything and daring, then new horizons will open up for him. Weigh the pros and cons of a leash walk first:

The disadvantages of a leash walk

Bad encounters. During the walk, you'll probably run into other dogs. Out of his comfort zone and his usual smells, nervousness and anxiety can win over your feline and lead him into a fight. The presence of dogs likely to arrive at high speed should also be monitored;

Parasites and injuries. During the walk, you have to make sure that your little companion does not ingest anything on the ground, at the risk of catching parasites or injuring himself. In any case, contact with the outside world requires that your pet is up to date with his vaccinations and anti-parasite treatments.

The advantages of a walk on a leash

Shared happiness. Your cat will discover new stimuli and sensations that he will love. And you'll be delighted to see your cat marvel at the grass, sniff the flowers and jump after the butterflies. Beautiful moments of complicity in perspective;

Good for the morale. For an active and curious cat who spends his days watching behind the windows or on the balcony, leaving his four walls will do his morale a world of good. By satisfying his thirst for adventure, the experience will greatly benefit him to the point of becoming indispensable! So before you commit, make sure you can schedule regular outings;

Physical activity. Despite the many games available to him, an indoor cat doesn't get as much exercise as a feline who has the opportunity to explore the surroundings. Taking your cat for walks will give it some exercise and will be especially beneficial for an overweight or obese pet.

Get the right equipment

When walking a cat on a leash, it's best to get a harness because the leash attachment is located at the shoulder blades, making it much more comfortable to wear. A collar can slip over the head and as such, does not present optimal safety conditions. Moreover, a collar can get caught on a branch and prevent your cat from getting out of a bad situation if it has escaped. Harnesses that fit a cat's size are readily available in stores. If your feline is large, look for equipment designed for small dogs. Choose a thin, lightweight leash to facilitate your pet's movements. A retractable leash is possible, but you'll need to know how to operate it so you can lock it and shorten it quickly in case of danger.

Getting your cat used to the harness and leash

The first step toward walking on a leash is to gradually get your cat used to the harness and leash:
  • Initially, have her wear the harness inside the house for a few minutes each day;
  • Associate the harness with a positive action: offer treats or play with him. You can also put the harness on just before his meal, as he will forget about his equipment while eating;
  • When your cat has adjusted to wearing the harness, you can add the leash;
  • Walk your cat around your home, letting him go as he pleases. Reward him for being quiet;
  • As the days go by, impose your own directions without pulling sharply on the leash. Continue to reward him after the sessions.

Take your cat on its first walk on a leash

Once your cat is sufficiently accustomed to the harness and leash, you can take your cat on its first outdoor walk:
  • Choose a quiet, low-traffic area;
  • Once outside, put your cat gently on the ground, let him observe and sniff his new environment;
  • If he remains motionless and refuses to move, sit by his side and pet him to reassure him;
  • Don't force him to do anything and don't pull on his leash. You can encourage him with treats;
  • At first, plan short outings (ten to fifteen minutes) and always in the same place;
  • Gradually, your cat will gain confidence and begin to venture out on his own. Praise your cat with petting;
  • Gradually increase the length of walks when you feel your cat is comfortable;
  • If your pet panics, fusses, struggles, it is not yet ready for this new experience. Take him in your arms, caress him and talk to him to reassure him. Do not insist and repeat the operation another day;
  • You don't see any progress after several tries? Then the big spaces are not made for your feline. You must give up the idea of going outside and let your companion enjoy the soothing atmosphere of his "home sweet home".

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