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Cats, unlike dogs, are independent animals. They have their own minds and don’t like being told what to do.
For this reason, they don’t do very well with leashes during walks. Felines would rather explore the environment alone and according to their terms.
With all the dangers that pets face outdoors, owners prefer leaving them indoors during walks to coming with them.
From being knocked by cars to falling prey to dogs and getting lost, cats are prone to perils outside the home.
So, what happens when you want to bring your cat with you without a leash? How do you manage to do this while keeping her safety in check? We have a few tips for you.
1. Start by training the cat to walk on a leash
There’s no shortcut here – if you want to nail walking with your furbaby without a leash, the best thing to do would be to train her to use a leash first.
Yes, cats can master the art of walking on a leash just like their canine counterparts.
First things first, you want to get her a harness and a leash. Forget about collars as these make it easier for your kitty to escape.
Purchase a harness that fits the cat best. Make sure it can fit two fingers between her and the harness. Also, it should be lightweight for obvious reasons.
Now, get the harness on the cat with the help of treats (have plenty of those!).
Allow the cat to get accustomed to the whole idea of a leash. At first, she will resist it and do all things to get it out. Don’t take it off her yet.
Let the leash drag behind at home then pick it up and go on walks.
Follow her lead and don’t pull it aggressively.
Once she is comfortable, go out to newer places with dogs, people, and other animals and train her to be comfortable.
With a little patience, commitment, and consistency, the cat will learn how to follow you with a leash-on.
2. Use towlines
A towline is a long and thin rope/leash that a cat drags behind as a cat walks. You can use your normal leash as a towline if it is long and thin enough.
The towline gives your kitty a false assurance that you are not caging her. So she will walk freely.
After your feline friend masters walking on a leash, introduce towlines.
The long rope acts as a safety mechanism. In case a wild animal or dog approaches the kitty, you can grab the end of it and help the cat.
If you cannot get a towline, keep a leash with you always. If things get out of hand, you can put it on the cat for her safety or those of others. This is especially true if you go to the park or other animal-infested areas.
3. Train the kitty to walk off-leash
After several attempts of walking your cat with a towline, you will easily know if she’s ready to go off-leash or not.
If she is, go on walks around the block with her and see. She should be able to follow you correctly.
If she needs to explore something, she will do so without being too far away from you.
Else, if she still has a habit of sneaking out on you for long periods and doesn’t respond to your calls, go back to using a towline.
Keep training her, exposing her to different places until she masters the art completely.
It does take more time than training a dog but it is doable.
4. Keep a solid routine
Kitties are beings of routine. When starting a certain schedule for your feline buddy, your best bet is to stick to a specific time of day. It works like charm in the feline world.
If you want a constant buddy in your cat during walks, create a routine and stick to it.
When the time for walks rolls around, your cat’s brain will register it. You will find her ready waiting for you to step out with her.
5. Always walk in front or next to the cat
When walking with your cat off-leash, always walk in front or next to your cat. This is the only way you can keep your cat safe.
In case of a wild animal approaches, your sight may intimidate it. Additionally, your cat will have enough time to run to safety.
Next to you is even better as you will keep a close eye on the kitty.
6. Keep the walk interesting
Another tip to make walks enjoyable is to keep them interesting.
Don’t just follow the same route day in day out. Change things as often as possible.
Explore hiking areas with plenty of trees for your kitty to climb.
Try places with a ton of grass on the surface. Go to the park once the cat has understood the art of not straying off-leash.
During walks, feel free to let the cat run, pause, walk slowly, chase small game, etc. This way, she will always look forward to going out with you.
7. Treats and lots of praise
Right from teaching your cat to walk on-leash to walking with her without a leash, you will need plenty of yummy treats to act as initiatives.
Once the cat grasps a skill, offer a treat or two.
Positive and social reinforcement work as well.
When you combine all the three, you will have a magic trick to get the cat to stay where you want her to.
8. Personal information is a must
Regardless of your mastery of the above tips, walking with a cat off-leash is a big risk. Anything can happen out there.
Your cat may be chased down by an angry dog. And your efforts to run after her and get her on a leash may be futile.
Just to be safe, have her on a collar with an identification badge on it. In case she gets lost, someone can contact you.
Cats love the outdoors. While most pet parents are afraid to let their babies go out off-leash, those that are willing to train their kitties can make it happen.
Hi! I am Eleanor Price. I started this website after my cat, Louie, almost died from a case of botulism (a type of food poisoning often caused by bacteria that grow on food items). Turned out that my cat’s diet was the problem. I have made it my duty to provide the best information and recommendations about everything cat lovers need to know about their felines’ health and wellbeing. My goal is to find the most informative content on anything feline-related and share it with fellow hardworking kitty lovers.
Disclaimer: While I ensure that the advice and tips given here are in line with the latest evidence-based veterinary information and health guidelines, under no circumstance should you misconstrue my suggestions as medical advice. Please contact your veterinarian in all matters regarding your kitty’s health.