Click here to learn more.
Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
A. That would depend very much on your cat. If you have an outgoing cat who seems to take most things in stride, then you can certainly try it. But if you have a cat who hides under the bed at even the slightest change in routine, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Let’s assume you have a cat who’s a prospect for walking — or a kitten you can raise to accept a walk as part of his normal routine. Get the harness — a cat harness is a must, because a cat can slip out of one made for a dog — and introduce your cat to it very slowly, with lots of treats and praise. When you see that your cat is comfortable having the harness around, work up to short periods with it on — again, with treats and praise.
Walking a cat isn’t like walking a dog. While you train a dog to go where you go without pulling you off your feet — or you should do that, anyway — walking a cat is really about accompanying a cat while he wanders around. Try this in the house at first to get your cat used to having a leash on. When he seems fairly accepting of both harness and leash, graduate to exploring on leash in your own safe yard.
If all’s going well up to that point, it’s time to go for a real walk. Considering the damage a terrified cat can inflict on someone holding a leash (and offering a tree substitute to climb when in danger), you want to be sure any place you walk is unlikely to have dogs, especially loose ones. If there's a chance that your cat could come into contact with another cat on the walk, you'll want to make sure that your cat has been vaccinated properly — talk to your veterinarian about how to protect your cat from diseases that can be transmitted from other cats.
Really, you’re probably not going to engage in long nature hikes with your cat, so you’re talking about going a couple of lots in either direction from your front door. Otherwise, you’d have to get in the car, which presents an entirely different set of challenges, unless your cat is already comfortable with a carrier and a car ride.
I’m guessing by now you’ve realized why most cats don’t get walked. In fact, those harnesses and leashes are probably more often used as safety devices to prevent a cat from escaping when you’re going somewhere like the veterinarian’s. I have seen them on cats who are traveling by air as carry-on luggage with their owners. In such circumstances, having a cat wear a harness with you holding the leash is a very good idea just in case your cat gets loose.
Otherwise, it’s more than likely your cat will be just as happy if he never sees a harness, much less wears one. If all you're trying to accomplish is getting your indoor cat some access to the outside, that's probably better accomplished with a roomy cat patio.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Ryder, an 8-month-old Shiba Inu
puppy, is back home with his family
after falling off a boat into the ocean.
Get expert advice on keeping pets safe
during fireworks, barbecues, hot weather
and other Independence Day hazards.
Do you know what "brachycephalic" means? How about "borborygmi?"
Take our quiz to test your…
Many dogs love to swim, but certain
bodies of water can hold dangers that
aren't visible to the naked eye.
The medium-size Mudi is a sheepdog
who tends to make an intelligent, active
and easy-to-groom companion.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
A dog diagnosed with the dangerous parasite may have to take antibiotics, get drug injections and stop exercising.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Visit HealthyPet magazine for interviews with pet-loving celebrities, health advice from our experts, training tips and…
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.