Your Complete Guide to Walking a Cat: The Whys and Hows


Is it really possible or necessary to walk your cat? Yes, your cat can get a lot out of it. Learn the benefits of walking a cat in this guide.

Cats are the second most popular pets in the USA. In fact, in 2017 there were an enormous 95.6 million cats living in homes across America. It’s not hard to see why. Cats make great companions and are a lot less demanding to look after than dogs. They can live comfortably in large houses or in tiny apartments. And they’re great to curl up with at the end of a long day.

But, while cats are known for their independent spirit, cat walking is becoming increasingly popular. This is a great way to spend quality time with your pet and explore your neighborhood. Not familiar with the ins and outs of walking a cat? Then you’re in the right place. Read on to find out everything you need to know about taking your cat for a walk and exactly why they’ll love it.

Get Ready to Reap the Benefits of Cat Walking

Not convinced that cat walking is for you? Well just wait to hear about some of the benefits it could have for your kitty. Taking your cat for a walk outside is a great way to boost its confidence and encourage it to explore its surroundings. This is particularly helpful for young cats or cats that have come from rescue centers. It’s an important way to support your cat’s development and help them get the most out of their lives.

But it’s also an important part of keeping them healthy. Getting fresh air and exercise is a great way to help your cat stay in shape and avoid problems such as arthritis later in life. It can also help to relieve any feelings of stress or boredom that your cat may experience cooped up in your apartment. Taking them for a walk on a cat harness and leash will keep them safe while they do this. 

Outdoor cats have a much lower life expectancy than indoor cats. This is because they are often allowed to roam free, which leaves them vulnerable to catfights or car accidents. If you take them out on a leash, they can avoid this danger and enjoy the outside world – it’s a win-win. Finally, starting to use a harness can be a great way to retrain an outdoor cat for an indoor lifestyle. It creates gentle limitations that can help ease them into this. But finding the best cat harness is key to ensuring you have success walking your cat. So let’s look at some of our top tips for walking your cat.

Make Sure They’re Comfortable

If your cat isn’t comfortable in their harness then they simply won’t want to wear it. This is why it’s important to take the time to find a high-quality harness for your cat. You want a harness that will distribute pressure across your cat’s body if the cat pulls against it. This is why a lot of owners opt for full-body harnesses rather than leashes that clip onto a collar. This will make your cat feel more secure and stop them from choking if they try to pull away. 

Do some research into the right size of harness for your cat. You may find that harness shopping in person is easier than buying one online so you can get the perfect fit. A smaller cat will need a special kitten harness. The last thing you want is a harness that your cat can wriggle out of. If you do choose to buy online then why not consider a harness with adjustable straps? This means you can tailor it exactly to fit your cat. But be careful with the type of buckle you go for. 

A thread-through or Velcro strap buckle may become loose over time and this means your cat could escape the harness. Opting for a clip buckle or pin buckle will keep the straps securely in place. Before you try putting your harness on your cat, make sure it is calm. Wrestling your cat into its harness will not get things off to a good start. Putting their harness on near their food bowl will give them a positive association with it. And once you get them into it, be sure to reward them with a treat. This will mean they look forward to putting the harness on in the future.

Try Walking a Cat Inside First

Before you take your cat for its first walk outside, test their harness out inside. There are a few reasons why this is an important step in walking your cat for the first time. It’s important for them to get used to the harness before they go outside. This will make for a smoother walking experience. The last thing you want is to be carrying a cross cat home from the park.

Let them walk around your home wearing the harness and leash without you holding it for a while. This will help them get used to the feeling of the harness. Then you can start holding the end of the leash and walking them around. Make sure you give them plenty of treats while doing this. They will soon learn that walking on a leash is a fun experience.

Trying out your leash inside is also an important way to make sure that the harness fits them properly. Putting a harness on for five minutes won’t guarantee that your cat can’t wriggle free of it. If you let them wander around it in, you’ll soon spot any problems with the fit. It’s much safer to spot these in the comfort of your own home than out of the street. 

Start Small

Once you know that your cat is comfortable in its harness then you can try it outdoors. Don’t panic if your cat suddenly seems to dislike the harness again. Wearing a harness outside is a new experience, compared to wearing one inside. For cats who are used to roaming free outside, this can be especially confusing. This is why it’s important not to be overly-ambitious with your first walk. A successful walk to the end of your street around the block is much better than a disastrous five-mile hike with your cat.

Starting small also means that if your cat reacts badly, it will be easy for you to get them home. Taking a friend with you to carry a cat carrier in case this happens can be really useful. And don’t forget to stock up on the treats.

If you have a disastrous first walk, don’t be too upset. One of the most important things is when it comes to training is persistence. Try to keep up with the training and stick to a regular schedule. For example, if you plan to go for a walk every day then you should do this every day. Your cat will soon get used to this and you’ll be amazed at how much difference just a week’s walking can make.

A Cat Leash Won’t Suit Every Cat

Unfortunately, not every cat will take to the leash. As an owner, this can be a really frustrating moment but it’s important to listen to your pet and accept what they want. Often it is difficult to identify why a cat doesn’t take to wearing a leash. If your cat suffers from any sort of skin condition they may find that their leash irritates this. Others may find that the leash is uncomfortable on their fur. Doing your research into the best leash for your cat can help prevent this.

When researching, pay attention to user comments and look for leashes specifically designed for your breed of cat. This will give you the best chance of success. If you have a rescue can then there may be a huge number of reasons why they resist the leash. Or your cat may simply be a free spirit. Unfortunately, there is only so much training you can do. To keep your cat happy, it’s important to acknowledge when enough is enough. On the plus side, there are lots of fun alternatives for giving your cat valuable outdoor time.

Explore Your Options

If your cat is keen to roam free then you have lots of options for finding them a safe space to do just that.

If you have an outdoor space at home then look at enclosing this so your cat can explore freely. Even a tiny terrace can become an exciting catio for your pet. And you can have loads of fun kitting this out to keep your cat entertained.

If you live in the city and are short on space, have a look for cat play zones. This is a great way for your cat to meet other animals and for you to connect with fellow owners. For a creative way to get them there, check out cat bags and strollers so they can travel in style.

Walking a cat opens up a world of opportunities for owners to exercise their pets. But it’s also a great way to strengthen your bond with your pet. 

About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.