More and more cat parents are going on outdoor adventures and trips with their cats. They want their cats to experience everything the world has to offer. Social media is full of photos of cats camping, hiking, kayaking or simply walking on a leash down the sidewalk. Just the hashtag #catsonleashes has over 33,000 posts on Instagram.
Cat harnesses are being sold in pet stores and while the trend seems to be on the rise, some animal rights groups are concerned for the welfare of the cats. On the other hand, a scientist and animal behaviorist are all for it, claiming cats are happier and healthier.
While the idea may be appealing, there are a few things to consider before trying it with your cat. RSPCA commends cat parents for trying to enhance their fur children’s lives, but cautions that walking a cat on a leash could cause them distress. They suggest stimulating their minds with toys and climbing frames.
A spokeswoman for RSPCA told MailOnline, “Some cats may be frightened by the experience of being on a lead, so we would ask all owners to take this in to consideration. This is because a sense of control is very important to cats and being walked on a collar or harness prevents them from having control.”
She went on to say, “It may be more difficult for them to be able to move away or hide from anything which might scare or worry them. If an owner feels that putting their cat on a lead would not be stressful for their pet then they should introduce them to this experience in a slow, gradual and positive manner. If any signs of distress are seen such as the cat trying to pull away or get away then this should be stopped immediately.”
Scientist Dr David Grimm, a news editor of Science magazine, proudly states that he has been walking his two cats on a leash for the past thirteen years. “We just wanted our two kittens — Jasper and Jezebel — to experience more of the world than our cramped 800-square-foot apartment in the heart of Baltimore.”
Dr Grimm believes that the answer to honoring and enhancing our cats’ lives is to do what we have done for dogs – and take them for a walk. He hopes others will follow in his footsteps as he states in the New York Times, “we should let our cats outside for 30 to 60 minutes a day to rove yards, stroll sidewalks and disappear into shrubbery.”
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Just a walk in the park. 🍂🍃🍁 . . . We learned that they don’t like bicycles… yet. . . . #humble #beautifulnature #ontopoftheworld #happy #exploringcalifornia #falltrees #fallphotos #sunny #northerncal #califall #california #cali #fall2018 #kittens #kittylove #whitekitten #fluffykitty #whiteandgreycat #boykitten #girlkitten #coldincali #catonleash . . @theo_elsa_ @codycabeza
He urges others to allow their cats to explore the outdoors under supervision stating, “We should pick them up when they head for the street. We should whistle or clap when they begin stalking a bird. And we should have a bag of treats ready when it’s time to call them back indoors.”
Although, he walks his cats on a leash he understands that it might not work for all cats. He admits that it is difficult at first, put worth the effort in the end. “And with each day, you’ll see your cat come alive in amazing ways, bolting, scaling, leaping and becoming one with the wild world around him.”
He said that he chose to walk with a leash because “it does keep them from running out into traffic.” He believes that walking a cat outdoor enhances their lives and increases their happiness. “Today’s indoor cat is a tiger robbed of his dominion, a Lamborghini left idling in the garage.”
Sherry Woodard, animal behaviorist with Best Friends Animal Society, agrees with walking your cat on a leash. She told The Huffington Post, “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 on a walk.”
She goes on to say that walking will benefit your cat, “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.”
If walking your cat is not your thing, Woodard suggest building a catio- “an enclosed outdoor space where your cat can walk around freely.”
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Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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