There may be a bit of a trend developing amongst cat owners (cat guardians) regarding walking your cat on a leash. The Times newspaper says that the champion of a growing American movement with the hashtag #catwalking has called on cat owners to treat their pets more like dogs.
This person, the champion of the catwalking movement, is David Grimm. He is the deputy editor of Science magazine and author of Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs.
David has been walking his cats Jasper and Jezebel on a leash for 13 years. He is very keen on giving his cats the best possible experience. As he lives in an 800 ft.² apartment in the heart of Baltimore he decided to walk them on a leash which gets them outside safely.
He said, writing in The New York Times:
“We need to start walking cats. I’m not saying that you should put your cat on a leash like we did. They don’t like you telling them where to go. But we should let our cats outside for 30 to 60 minutes a day to rove yards, stroll sidewalks and disappear into shrubbery. We should pick them up when they head for the street. We should whistle or clap when they begin stalking a bird. And we should have a bag of treats ready when it’s time to call them back indoors.”
Mr Graham’s objectives are laudable. I love his attitude. The problem, and I know that he understands this, is that it is almost impossible with respect to 99% of domestic cats to train them to walk on a leash. They are not built for the task. It is not in their DNA because they are individuals and solitary animals and they are not pack animals. And humans are just as resistant! I mean they are unwilling to walk their cat on a leash.
There are cats who could be trained to walk on a leash for a reasonably short distance or perhaps even a long distance. I have seen trekkers with their cats on a leash walking through mountain ranges. However, we see images of this but we don’t know exactly what is going on on these mountain hikes. I suspect that their cat wanders and stops and generally interrupts the flow of the walk quite dramatically.
In short, although I see the massive advantages of walking your cat on a leash, it is sadly impractical. This trend, if there is one, will not develop into a viral movement. Perhaps cat guardians should be obliged to train their cat from kitten hood to walk on a leash. But that won’t happen either. I don’t want to be too negative but I have to be practical.
Take a look at this (it can work but rarely):
The next cat is a Chausie:
The RSPCA have made a comment on this movement as well. A spokeswoman said:
“Some cats may be frightened by the experience of being on a lead. A sense of control is very important to cats and being walked on a collar or harness prevents that. If an owner feels that putting their cat on a lead would not be stressful for their pet they should introduce the experience in a slow, gradual and positive manner.”
If you want to give it a try, I would suggest that you purchase a harness which covers a minimum amount of the body of the cat. When a harness covers the torso of a cat it acts like a Thundershirt, which is a device which is designed to calm cats and dogs. It certainly works because if you put such a harness on a cat he or she will tend to fall over! He won’t walk but he may stagger a few yards. It is not that he is hurt or upset, it is simply that a ‘kitten response’ has been instigated in his brain and he becomes passive and inert.
You will certainly need a harness as opposed to a cat collar attached to a lead. This is because cats can get out of cat collars and if you take your cat outside he or she is liable to become agitated or try to escape. In fact a cat may be able to escape a harness if she panics so it should be bought wisely and of decent quality.