Take Your Cat for a Walk? - By: Kim Salerno
After a long, hard day at work, wouldn't it be a nice stress reliever to get outside and take a walk...with your cat? It sounds pretty strange but there are people out there who have a harness and leash made especially for their felines so that they don't miss out on going outside and getting some exercise.
Today, it's recommended that cat parents make their cats indoor-only. There are way too many dangers of having a domestic cat roaming about and coming into contact with another animal (or who knows what else!) and getting hurt or picking up some kind of illness. But cats still need to log some exercise to stay healthy.
Cats Can Be Trained
Cats can be trained to be on a leash, although it's not the same type of training that you would use on your dog. The keys to leash training a cat are patience and perseverance; the process is a lengthy one and it can take months to get your cat accustomed to the harness and leash (a collar and leash will not work on a cat because they could easily slip out of it).
The training involves a number of steps that need to progress slowly and only when your cat is ready. It could take weeks for your cat just to get used to wearing a harness and leash around the house before you're ready to practice outside (this is where patience comes into play). Your cat may also be very distracted by the harness or try to fight the leash, at which point it's time to to a break and go back to it later (this is where perseverance comes into play).
Some Cat Experts Beg to Differ
Arguing against the concept of a cat needing to go outdoors for exercise, feline experts are adamant that you can give an indoor-only cat sufficient stimulation by playing games with them and providing them with entertaining toys and climbing stands.
Moreover, dogs and cats don't react in the same way when something scares them. What if there's a noisy truck or a dog that decides to come over and investigate the situation while you're on a walk? Your cat could try to flee, maybe hurting themselves or even you.
It's also debated that once you give your cat a taste for the outdoors, they might want to go outside all the time and dart for the door when it's open. You could potentially have an escapee on your hands whenever you're coming and going.
Leash Laws for Cats
In addition to pet experts making a movement for house cats to be exclusively indoor cats, now some towns are mandating it. For residents in New Orleans, Dallas, Green Bay, and Houston (and a couple dozen other municipalities around the US) if owners want their cats to go outdoors, they must be on a leash. Cats that are allowed to be "at large" may end up in neighbors' yards leaving behind a mess or killing other wildlife, two big reasons that these cities have enacted the leash law.
It's Up to You
It's not bizarre these days to walk around Central Park in NYC, or other areas across the US, and see a couple of cats on a leash. Ultimately, the decision to take your cat for a walk is up to you. Even if your town has a leash law, you can always make the effort to play with your cat inside for exercise so that being outdoors isn't necessary. If you do want to work with your cat on leash training, starting very early on in her life and getting her used to the concept could give you more of an advantage than starting when she's older.
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Author Resource : Kim Salerno is the President & Founder of TRIPSwithPETS.com. She founded the pet travel(http://www.tripswithpets.com) site in 2003 and is an expert in the field of pet travel. Her popular pet travel site features pet friendly hotels(http://www.tripswithpets.com) & accommodations across the United States, along with other helpful pet travel resources. Her mission is to ensure that pets are welcome, happy, and safe in their travels.