Categories: harness

Walking your cat on a leash to explore and stimulate. A lifestyle to aspire to?

Very few cat owners take their cat outside on a leash. Surprisingly, those that do take the time and trouble to lease train their cat and take him outside to the beach, a local park or perhaps a beautiful forest, enthusiastically recommend it. They really are genuine believers in taking their cat on exploratory walks. We have, therefore, two opposing points of view.

Luna in Bermuda. Photo: Instagram: @luna_misty_blue.

On one side, the RSPCA stated in the summer of 2017 but it was a bad idea to take your cat companion out on a leash. Their argument was that the cat dislikes losing control and becomes stressed. They prefer that you enrich the indoor environment instead. Ironically, very recently a European Union Commission spokesperson said that domestic cats have an inalienable right to roam and that leashes prevented it. Wow, that’s a big statement and frankly a silly statement as cats do not have any automatic rights to roam.

I disagree with the RSPCA. I support the idea of taking your cat out on a leash. People who do it want to improve the lives of their cat. That is the principal reason and of course it is the best reason.

Very few people attempt it. Perhaps this is because it looks impractical and the process is too daunting. It does take patience. The first obstacle is leash training your cat and before that you have to train your cat to accept a harness. Harnesses tend to make domestic cats flop over or they might stagger because it creates a mental process which destabilising their mind.

However, this can be overcome with patience. It is a question of patience and intelligent management. You have to be aware of the dangers. The first danger, I believe, is the quality of the harness. Domestic cats are Houdinis by nature and they can get out of harnesses. Although it looks impossible to do so.

Best cat harness? Noxie in the Supakit Gatsby Cat Harness.

I’ve been digging around the Internet for a good harness and one that is firmly recommended by a person who has been through the process of taking their cat out on exploratory walks recommends the Supakit Gatsby Harness. Most cats don’t like getting into a harness and therefore it should be as easy as possible to put on. This product meets that requirement. It is also thin and therefore I would expect it not to produce the usual destabilising effect on a cat. It’s also impossible to get out of according to the author who recommends it and I’m going to presume that this person is not being paid by the manufacturers! If you’d like to see it in action and read about it, please click on this link (external links sometimes go wrong).

There are many other harnesses so take your pick. The initial training will be a little tiresome because cats don’t naturally walk on a lead but once again patience is the answer.

One lady writing on the cat explorer community website and on social media says that she lets her cat lead the way. She has a nice backpack which allows her cat to find a place of security if the situation becomes difficult. There are, today, a lot of excellent backpacks manufactured specifically for cat exploring.

If you visit the Instagram page of catexplorer.community I think, like me, you will be inspired. The photographs are excellent and the stories are, as I said, inspiring. Above all the cats look very happy, stimulated and living a full life. This is the objective of all cat owners who truly love their cats.

It takes commitment and I think perhaps the most important part of this process of getting your cat ready for exploring outside is to leash train him very early on in his life if you are lucky to be adopting a kitten. I have to admit that I regret not leash training my cat when he was a kitten at about eight weeks of age. That’s the time to do it. It’s a mindset for both the person and the cat.

A lot of people nowadays are more inclined to keep their cats indoors and this certainly applies to America but much less so in the UK or in Europe. However, the general trend will be to more indoor cats for the future because the world is slowly becoming less safe for outdoor cats due to greater urbanisation and a general trend in the community that there needs to be greater regulation of free-roaming outdoor cats.

If there are more indoor cats in the future then taking your cat for a walk on a lead is the answer to both allow the cat to be secure inside the home and secure outside where they can be fully stimulated by nature. The gift of allowing your cat to explore outside safely is very pleasurable for both owner and cat.

P.S. Some places – very few – have leash laws. I think most local authorities would welcome a cat on a leash.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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