Is It Weird To Walk A Cat?
The world is divided when it comes to whether walking cats on a leash is a bad idea. But everyone is probably in agreement about if it is weird to walk a cat. The answer is YES, of course it’s weird to walk your cat since it’s not the norm and cats are not known to be trained. But if your cat is properly trained and you can avoid unwanted behaviors, then it becomes normal and no longer weird to walk your cat on a leash.
Whether it’s weird to walk a cat or not is really subjective. The question is more of whether it’s a good idea or not to walk a cat on a leash. What are the consequences, what are the potential benefits, and what are possible problems taking a stroll down the street with your feline companion? Let’s further explore these questions objectively from research and then come back to the question of whether it’s weird to walk a cat.
Benefits Of Walking A Cat
The obvious benefit is that walking your cat outside is mentally stimulating. There are birds, bugs, people, trees, grass, different sounds for your cat to take it all in.
Sherry, a cat behaviorist at Best Friends Animal Society, had another great reason. When harness trained, a scaredy cat will gain confidence. For that reason alone, I think walking your cat is a huge benefit.
If you like standing out from a crowd and long the attention of eyes on you, then walking a cat will garner just that, so that would also be an added benefit.
Unfortunately, the list of benefits isn’t long. Now, let’s go on to the cons.
Cats On A Leash: Bad Idea?
While the jury’s out when it comes to whether cats on a leash is a bad idea, research suggests two definitive facts about walking cats on a leash. First, certain breeds are better suited for leash training. The most common breeds that can be leash trained include Abyssinian, Bengal and Savannah. The second fact is that cat behaviorists and cat trainers who have successfully leash trained many cats condone walking cats on a leash.
That leaves the rest of us non-cat experts with regular ‘ol domesticated indoor cats. What are the rest of us average people to do? Should we walk our cats on a leash? Can we walk our cats on a leash? For the rest of us, unless we have the conviction and dedication to train our cat, cat experts think yes, it is a bad idea to walk our cats on a leash.
There is a myriad of dangers for your cat outside especially if you walk your cat on busy streets filled with people and stimulants. Dangers include:
- Fleas and other diseases that your cat can contract simply by rolling around in the grass.
- Poison and pesticides that your cat can ingest. Just because you are physically standing by your cat, it doesn’t mean you can detect poisonous chemicals that perhaps your neighbor 2 houses down sprayed on the edges of their lawn.
- Your cat can escape the harness if they get scared, like if they hear a loud noise, and run away especially if you’re far from your neighborhood. If your cat wiggles out of the harness and runs into the street, not knowing the concept of a car, your cat can get hit by a car, or shut down the train for 45 minutes.
- Dogs and other cats that you pass by can attack your cat in a split second before you can protect your cat. Your cat can end up with a gash or even more life threatening injury. Your cat can also contract diseases like Feline Aids if he/she gets bitten by a contagious cat.
- You’re suppressing a cat’s instinct to be free. Putting your cat on a leash makes them lose their sense of control, which could really stress them out.
- Despite popular beliefs that your cat wants fresh air, outside can stress out your cat.
- If your cat has an amazing life-changing experience, your cat may end up becoming addicted to the outside and dart out the door on his/her own accord. Nobody wants a darter.
- Any of the above could cause trauma to your cat and your cat may become even more scared and jumpy at home. You could be saying, “Little Johnny just isn’t the same anymore after the incident.”
How To Train Your Cat To Walk On A Leash
If you decide to put a leash on your cat right now, chances are, your cat is just going to lie down and get dragged as you pull on the leash. Your cat’s going to look at you dead in the eyes and from the gaze alone, he/she’ll speak, “it ain’t happenin’.”
So, if you want to really give it a go at walking your cat on a leash, you have to be committed to training your cat. It will take time so you have to be patient.
- Step 0. Make sure your cat is microchipped and has the cat collar with a name tag. The last thing you want is your cat to run away from this ordeal and from you forever.
- Step 1. Put a harness attached to the leash on your cat indoors and have your cat become used to the extra baggage. Do this ideally during playtime so your cat associates harness with a positive feeling. The harness should be snug and the “H” shaped harness that goes around the front of the front legs and between the front and back legs. My cat, Nala, can still wiggle out of it. I might suggest this adorable hooded cat onesie and attach a loop to clip on the leash.
- Step 2. With positive reinforcement, encourage your cat to walk with the leash as you pull on it. If your cat does this successfully, then give him/her a treat. Repeat this indoors everyday until your cat becomes used to walking beside you on a leash. This step could take months.
- Step 3. Make sure the outside environment is right. First, only try walking your cat on a leash outside in a quiet area with no animals or people around. Ideally a backyard if you’ve got one. Give your cat treats when he/she walks beside you.
- Step 4. Your cat cannot be walked on a leash like a dog, so do it cautiously and slowly, avoiding potentially high stress surroundings.
It sounds simple, but again, your cat will most likely resist walking on a leash. Again, it really comes down to whether your cat’s personality will allow you to control walking your cat. Although proper training including a harness can instill confidence in a scaredy cat, a scaredy cat down to the core may never change, and if that’s the case, you shouldn’t force your cat to walk on a leash.
You need a lot of patience and dedication in training your cat. I just can’t reiterate that enough. Educate yourself with the book, Walk Your Cat: The Complete Guide if you want to become a proper teacher before you go and start blaming the student!
Is It Weird To Walk A Cat?
Finally, we’re back to the original question. I suppose this is something potential cat walkers want to know, although if you’ve trained your cat to walk on a leash in the first place, then I don’t think you need any validation from others. You’ve done a dang good job already and should proudly walk your cat.
But if you are curious whether it is weird or not before you commit to training your cat, here is a collection of the best opinions I’ve gathered from people on the internet in different parts of the world about this question.
- “I use a leash + harness with my cats to let them outside, but I don’t take them for a walk like I would with a dog. It’s more of letting them explore around the yard as much as they want, but controlling how far they go, and when they come back.” –Spidercat
- “My Fiance worked at a local park a few years ago and saw a gentleman walking his white cat there. If you can get your cat to walk on a leash I say more power to you!“ –FloretteLiz
- “I see this all the time around NYC, and I know people who do it. I think it’s a great option for a Cat who wants to go out an explore. I mostly have seen people walking their cats very early in the morning, trying to avoid dogs and people giving them weird looks or asking questions.” –Mrs. Castle
- “Honestly I’d laugh my ass off.” –KatyElle
- “I live in the city, so I’ve seen a lot of people walking their cats. It’s always sorta silly, but whatever works!” –Pinkandsparkly
- “It is unusual, but not bad. It is much better than being an irresponsible pet owner who lets their cat run loose in the neighborhood.” –wonderloss
- “Why wouldn’t I walk my cat? I know he’s just a cat. He’s just a cat, and I am the only person who ensures his wellbeing. He’s just a cat, and he’s the one whose fur collected my tears when my partner broke up with me. He’s just a cat, and when he greets me at the door when I come home from work, my soul is glad. Why wouldn’t I walk my cat, if it were something that would enrich his life a fraction of the amount he enriches mine?” “I thought I’d be embarrassed to walk my cat, but turns out we both love it.“-Luke Stravrand Woolf
- “Depending on the part of the world, some ten to 20 years ago, seeing a cat on a leash would undoubtedly cause an amaze and videos uploaded on YouTube (if there were one back then) with a title “Dogcat” or similar. Nowadays, however, seeing a cat on a leash is not so strange (well, it actually is here, where we live).” –pet-happy.com
- “I’m that weirdo who walks her cat on a leash. Walking a cat is surprisingly easy. One simple rule: Bring treats.” –Brittany
Is it weird to walk a cat? It seems to have become more of a norm in urban cities while perhaps less metropolitan areas with a sea of high-rise buildings may not be used to it.
More importantly, is it a bad idea to walk your cat on a leash? Most experts seem to think so. But at the same time, cat behaviorists encourage it only if your cat is properly trained or you have a cat breed that is conducive to walking on a leash on command.
Cat training is difficult and time-consuming but with the right dedication and commitment, it’s possible to successfully walk your cat on a leash. The only caveat I would say from my research is that if your cat is a scaredy cat who doesn’t show any signs of gaining confidence, I would refrain from taking your cat outside on a leash.
I hope you found this helpful. Good luck and please let me know if you’ve found success with walking your cat on a leash.