A growing number of cat owners have taken to walking their cat on a lead. Many cats are confined to their homes in towns and cities either because there is no access to a garden or the streets in the neighbourhood are deemed to be too dangerous for them. Owners believe that walking their cat will give them the exercise and stimulation that they need.
But cat walking could be doing more harm than good. Cats find it stressful when they don’t have control over where they go. With the help of a harness and lead, owners are forcing cats into unknown territory and the animals will become agitated when they find themselves in unfamiliar places.
Dogs enjoy the adventure of exploring new neighbourhoods, cats generally do not.
Stimulating Home Environments
The RSPCA is suggesting that it would be better for pet owners to create a more stimulating environment in their homes using toys and cat towers. However, some animal behaviourists disagree and feel that walks could be excellent stimulation for felines. Some cats will lack the temperament and discipline for walking on a lead but others might actually enjoy the experience.
If Cats Could Talk
It would be hard to get to the bottom of who is right concerning this issue. Cats can’t talk and so cannot explain their wishes and one feline’s needs will be completely different to another’s. What is certain, though, is that more and more people are walking their cats and so moggies on leads could soon become a common sight.
I can imagine what my cat’s reaction to leash training would be. Something along the lines of “no way josé”! I once tried to fit him with a harness so that he would be able to stretch his legs on the long journey to our new home. I came close to losing several fingers during that particular experiment!
On the other hand, years ago, I had a wonderful ginger Tom who loved to follow me everywhere and probably would have taken to a lead like a duck to water. There is only one way to find out if your cat is amenable to a lead but I would recommend an investment in armoured gloves before you go anywhere near them with a harness!
Cat walking is a complex issue. In an ideal world, all cats would have access to the great outdoors and could come and go as they please. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Urban cats risk being knocked down and killed on the roads and those living in apartments do not enjoy ready access to the world beyond their front doors. What is best? Shut them in, let them out and risk losing them or take them for a walk?
Do you walk your cat? If you do, has training your cat been a dream or a nightmare?