Have you ever seen a cat being walked on a leash? It is one of the most delightful sights.
As it turns out, walking a cat on a leash is good for you and your cat. Many cats really love time spent outside, enjoying the sounds of birds chirping and the scent of freshly cut grass, just like humans do. Even more, that activity can help strengthen the bond between a cat and their owner, giving you something to experience together.
Walking a cat can provide them with a more enriched life. According to animal behavior consultant Sherry Woodard "A lot of cats love to go outside and smell things, see things and roll around in sand and grass and dirt. They love to scratch real trees. Those are things they can do [safely] on a walk."
When out for a walk a cat will use his brain in different ways. "The cat is thinking more. It's thinking about how to use its body and what things smell like. The cats are brighter and engaged," said Woodard. The exercise is just an added bonus for both of you.
How to Train your cat to walk on a leash
For the sake of safety, it's crucial to start training indoors, Woodard said. She suggests purchasing a harness and leaving it inside the house for your cat to play with and smell, so he isn't afraid of it. Next, strap your cat into the harness and make sure it's properly fitted and that your pet is comfortable. Then let kitty wear the harness around the house. Let him drag the leash and grow accustomed to having something strapped around his body.
Woodard said it's smart to reward your cat with treats throughout this process; give him a spoonful of wet food while you're first adjusting the harness so he's distracted.
Once you are ready to take things outside, open the door and let your cat sniff around and choose the direction.
Discover fun alternatives.
If your cat isn't into leash life, but you want him to enjoy a new space, Woodard said to consider a catio -- an enclosed outdoor space where your cat can walk around freely. You might build a catio on your patio or in your yard and enjoy the space together. This can also fortify your connection. You can also look into cat fencing, a cat bag or a cat stroller -- they're are all ways to give a timid cat the opportunity to safely smell and hear the world.