WALKING CATS PROVIDES ENRICHMENT

Indoor cats must always stay indoors! Not true. Many pet parents have found that walking cats provides enrichment that cannot be equalled. Sure, watching birds, squirrels and lizards through the window is okay but allowing them the opportunity to breath and smell the fresh air brings far greater joy. Plus, it’s an experience that feline and human can engage in together. It strengthens their bond. An unbreakable bond.

Walking cats provides enrichment which can be done safely by using a strap harness 
Credit: Photo by K B
Walking cats provides enrichment which can be done safely by using a strap harness
Credit: Photo by K B

Some Kitties Also Hike And Swim

Although it’s not very common that you’ll actually see a cat being walked, sometimes they participate in other “unusual” activities, too. There are kitties that go hiking. Others enjoy a little swim in the pool. 

It’s all up to the creativity of the cat guardian to experiment and find ways to stimulate their pet. The relatively effortless act of walking enriches feline lives. It’s worth remembering that both physical and mental exercise prevent boredom and help keep them in good health, as well. It allows them to thrive, not just be.

As you can see, walking enriches feline lives by allowing them to experience nature up close
As you can see, walking enriches feline lives by allowing them to experience nature up close

Out In Your Own Back Yard

However, it’s not only walking that enriches feline lives. Besides, some cats would feel stressed and less safe in surroundings they are not familiar with. After all, his territory is at home, with his humans.

So, a back yard visit on a leash seems like a very satisfactory alternative. No dog encounters, no loud traffic noise and, hopefully, no threatening wildlife situations. Your kitty will be using his brain in different ways and his senses will become more acute. And, he will be motivated as well as have a more fulfilled life as a cat.

KITTING OUT YOUR KITTY

Kitty ID

Before your cat companion ventures beyond your front door, make sure you have everything it needs to be safe and comfortable.

As you know by now, I do not take chances. So, if Fluffy tolerates wearing a collar that displays her ID, make sure she is wearing it while on her trip into the big, wide world. Please ensure it is the breakaway type so that it will unfasten if she were to ever get caught up or tangled. That way, she can free herself and avoid further injury.

Made by hand and made to measure, a harness designer can offer unique detailing
Made by hand and made to measure, a harness designer can offer unique detailing

This Is What Cat Owners Think

During my research on this topic, I came across an article published by the British daily, The Sun. Then I thought you may be interested in some of the comments from cat owners who take their pets outdoors. Here’s the first one.

Amy McLean lives in Hampstead, North London, with her cat, now four years old, that she named Lady Medora Byron.  When she was a kitten, she went missing for three days so Amy started taking her out for walks on a lead. According to McLean, walks are definitely a favorite part of her day. “Whenever I get her harness out she meows with excitement. She loves all the different sights and smells,” her owner said. 

Harness And Leash

Since cats are far more delicate than dogs, it is never advisable to try walking her with the leash attached to a collar. There are special harnesses just for cats and the leash will clip onto the ring between the shoulders or a little further down the back.

There are two basic styles of harnesses for cats. 

Firstly, we have the fabric, vest-type design, that is usually made of soft mesh. It slips over the head, passes underneath the chest, behind the front legs and two side straps snap together between the shoulders.

An example of how cats can enjoy the outdoors and bond with their guardian 
Credit: Photo by Birhanb
An example of how cats can enjoy the outdoors and bond with their guardian
Credit: Photo by Birhanb

Then there is the one that is all straps. It is actually two loops that are joined together by a strap that rests on the cat’s upper back. The straps that form the neck loop and the girth loop are positioned and then snapped in place.

The Harding’s Bengal Cat

Nick and Stephanie Harding are residents of Ashtead in Surrey, and have a two-year-old pedigree Bengal named Barry.  Although they allow him to roam, Barry still likes going for a stroll with his harness on. Nick commented that their cat tends to dart off after birds, particularly pigeons, so they use a retractable lead. “The kids down the park with their status dogs snigger at us. But they’re just jealous,” Nick added.

Getting Accustomed

Now, if you strongly believe that walking cats provides enrichment and you want to give it a try, ideally you should start in kittenhood. To begin with, the youngster will need to learn to accept a harness, firstly indoors and then outside. Try it out for just a few minutes and then gradually build up to longer periods. 

Since cats are more delicate than dogs, a snug-fitting, fabric harness vest is ideal
Since cats are more delicate than dogs, a snug-fitting, fabric harness vest is ideal

Getting used to how the harness feels and walking at the end of a leash requires practice. This will help to minimize any possible stress and reluctance, and ensure it becomes an experience to look forward to. 

However, you need to realize that not all cats like wearing a harness. The older they are when they are first introduced to it, the greater the likelihood that your feline friend will refuse to wear one. You simply won’t know how she will react until you try.

In cooler weather, your kitty can still enjoy a walk wearing its harness over a sweater
In cooler weather, your kitty can still enjoy a walk wearing its harness over a sweater

When A Cat Acts Like A Dog

Pippin, the Ragdoll cat, lives with Sarah Duffy in South West London. She takes her pet with her everywhere on the lead. “People sometimes stop to pet him and then gasp when they realize he’s a cat, not a dog,” stated Duffy. And, when they visit the park, they like to play fetch. “I’ll throw a ball and he’ll run and get it and bring it back to me, just as a dog would,” she added.

To Sum Up

Most indoor cats never have the opportunity to go outdoors. They can only imagine what it’s like by staring at the outside through a window from the inside.

An indoor cat can benefit a lot from these walks and outdoor experiences. It is really great exercise for the body and the brain. She will stay agile and in her optimum weight. It will also stimulate her senses, serve as enrichment, and make her a very happy kitty companion!

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

More must-read articles in this category:

Dog walking safely means being focused http://petpeevesunmasked.com/distracted-dog-walkers

Behavior awareness tips for dog parks http://petpeevesunmasked.com/dog-park-safety-precautions

Daily physical activity for good health http://petpeevesunmasked.com/dog-exercise-consistency-is-key

Defensive dog walking is like defensive driving http://petpeevesunmasked.com/avoid-confrontation-walking-dogs


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