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Tips For Walking Your Cat

January 15, 2024

January is Walk Your Dog Month. While we usually associate walking pets with Fido, why should our canine pals have all the fun? Some cats actually like to be walked on a leash! In this article, a local vet discusses walking Fluffy. In this article from Westside Animal Hospital, your Pooler, GA veterinary clinic, a local vet offers tips on walking cats.

Why Should I Walk My Cat?

Exercise is first and foremost here. Staying active and fit is essential for cats of all ages! Kittens can burn off some of their zoomies, adults can get a good workout, and senior kitties can stay as fit as possible.

Taking Fluffy on walks can also provide her with much-needed mental stimulation. Despite their occasional (or ongoing) bouts of laziness, cats do require some type of enrichment to avoid boredom. Just like humans, felines can grow tired of staring at the same things all day, every day.

The mental stimulation that comes from investigating scents and observing birds and squirrels is great for Fluffy, and can help keep that motor going. Former stray cats, those who were previously allowed outdoors, and/or those who have a bold and curious personality often tend to like walks the most. Super frisky furballs may also really enjoy it. 

This is also much safer than letting Fluffy roam freely. Our feline friends may be quite adventurous, but they are also very small and fragile. When your kitty goes outside, she is exposed to a number of threats, including the weather, wild animals, cars, the weather, parasites, and even other cats.

It is also safer for wildlife! Every year, our adorable feline pals kill billions of small animals.

Are There Any Downsides To Walking Your Cat?

The majority of the time, taking Fluffy on a leash should be safe, as long as you are taking proper precautions. However, there are a few things you need to consider. For example, your kitty may pick up parasites or diseases. Be sure to keep Fluffy’s vaccinations and parasite control up to date! Ask your Pooler, GA veterinarian for specific instructions.

Stress is another possibility. Not all cats enjoy being walked. In fact, some may be very afraid of the outdoors! If your cat doesn’t enjoy going outside, leave her alone.

There is a possibility that your pet will be injured or even get loose and run off. There could be a dog roaming loose, or you may lose control of your leash. These things aren’t necessarily likely, but there is always a possibility that something could happen. Stay vigilant and watch out for potential hazards.

It’s also possible to spoil your feline friend by not allowing her to enjoy those daily walks. Fluffy might give you an earful if you don’t take her out right meow!

How Long Should Fluffy’s Walks Be?

Generally speaking, we’d say one-mile round-trip is enough. However, it varies from kitty to kitty; for some cats, that may be too much. Remember, even if you walk slowly, your kitty may have to run to keep up with you on those little legs.

Whenever you notice your cat lagging or attempting to sit or lay down, it’s probably time to bring her home.

It’s worth noting that panting is a huge red flag in kitties: if Fluffy is panting, it’s a sign that she’s too hot and/or has overexerted herself. Offer her water, then carry her home right away.

What Type Of Gear Do I Need For Walking A Cat?

The only thing you need is a good, comfortable harness and a leash. We recommend using a regular collar for tags, and a harness for the leash. Don’t clip a leash to a regular collar, though; it could be dangerous if your kitty got stuck on something.

What Is The Best Way To Teach My Cat To Walk On A Leash?

Don’t just immediately take your pet out. Fluffy should get used to wearing her harness indoors. It may take a while for your feline friend to get used to her gear. That’s purrfectly fine! Once she’s comfortable with it, attach a leash to it and let her drag it around.

Only keep your pet’s gear on when you’re there so you can keep an eye on her. Cats are very playful, so she may play with her leash, and could get tangled. That could be quite dangerous! 

How Should I Start Walking My Cat?

If your kitty is a kitten, senior, or has any health issues, then it’s a good idea to consult your Pooler, GA veterinarian before taking her out. Otherwise, you can simply take your pet outside when she is comfortable with her harness and leash.

Give Fluffy a few minutes and see what she does. If she seems confused but interested, give her a few minutes, and see what she does. If she seems scared, take her back inside and offer her a window seat and a catnip mouse.

Don’t go too far on your first walk. There’s time for exploring later.

How Do I Keep My Cat Safe On Walks?

First things first: Fluffy’s vaccinations and parasite control should be up-to-date. She should also be fixed, microchipped, and wearing ID tags. We also would suggest GPS tags, for added safety.

  • Make sure your cat’s harness is comfortable and secure
  • Keep a good grip on the leash
  • Stick to safe areas
  • Avoid the potential dangers we listed above as well
  • Skip the walks if it’s very hot or cold
  • Don’t let Fluffy eat plants or grass that might contain toxic substances, or walk through areas treated with chemicals

Is There A Specific Breed Of Cat That Enjoys Walking?

It really comes down to the individual kitty. Our feline pals are all unique, to say the least. Some cats, such as Siamese cats, Bengal cats, Abyssinians, Manx cats, and Persian cats, enjoy being walked more than others. Former strays and shelter cats may also enjoy being walked.

Conclusion: Many kitties enjoy the stimulation and exercise provided by walks. Using a harness and leash, as well as avoiding potential dangers, can keep your cat safe on walks. It’s also important to make sure your feline pal is current on her preventative care. 

Where Is The Best Place To Walk My Cat?

For starting out, a fenced yard is ideal, but a quiet sidewalk will do. Of course, if there are loose dogs or other hazards in your neighborhood, you might want to hold off.

Avoid taking your feline pal near busy roads or places where she might run into loose dogs. Rivers and cliffs can also be dangerous. And while a few adventurous kitties may enjoy going to lakes or oceans, be very careful taking Fluffy near water. 

Also, keep your cat away from trees. When cats feel scared, they often climb trees instinctively. Cat claws are also curved in such a way that it is easy for them to climb up things. Going down? Not so much. Fluffy has to learn that trick. (This is why kitties can become stuck in trees.)

If you have any questions about your cat’s health or care, please contact Westside Animal Hospital, your Pooler, GA veterinary clinic.

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