Walking your cat
Cats love walks, almost as much as do dogs. They simply are not as demonstrative about walking. Nor can they anticipate as well as dogs. However it is extremely common for cats to follow their servants a little way from home: then the cat reaches the edge of their home territory, and stops following.
So if you want to take your cat for walks, you need to understand a little bit about them! There are two instincts in all cats which will enable you to get them to walk with you:
- 1: Moving lair. If you have ever had a cat with kittens, you will probably have noticed that the mother moves her kittens from time to time. This is a deeply rooted instinct the lair gets dirty and infested with parasites, so must be changed frequently. For the first few weeks, mum will move her kittens by carrying them. But as soon as they are old enough to walk - they will follow her! This instinct is extremely strong, and if your new kitten has properly bonded to you, the instinct will tell them to follow you when they are away from their familiar territory! Our kitten, Misty, when we bought her (age 15 weeks) was very weak. But 4 weeks later we took her on holiday to Dovedale. so strong was her instinct to follow us that she walked herself literally to exhaustion before she would let us carry her. Then she had a quick 5 minute cat-nap and wanted to walk again.
- 2: Home territory. Cats are territorial. They have a lair (your house), and a home territory, where they roam when out of the house. If your cat tends to follow you, they won't follow you outside their familiar territory. But once outside this area, they will want to follow you. Unless things are too frightening, when they will want to 'hole up'.
You can often use these two behaviours to get your cat used to walking with you. But cats vary a lot - as they mature, some of them get more adventurous and want to do their own thing rather than to follow you. Some will simply say they have walked enough and will refuse to walk further.
What you will need
- 1: A suitable harness. Kitten harnesses are readily available. Clearly lots of people start trying to walk their cats, but fail! Harnesses for adult cats are not so common.
- 2: A long, retractable lead. 8 metres is suggested (but with some cats, even this may not be long enough). The very short lead you will probably get with the harness is of no use whatsoever!
- 3: A suitable bag or carrier for the cat. A common back-pack can be ideal, you will probably want to wear it on your chest so you can see what your cat wants to do and exercise some control over the cat.
- 4: Choose somewhere to walk. Initially this should be somewhere you will not meet people or dogs, and somewhere the cat will not feel too frightened and will want to walk. Just like children, a little bit of fear is just excitement to a cat!
Cats generally do not like wide open spaces: they prefer cover. Also, like other animals, they prefer a defined path. So their ideal walking place is somewhere wild: a wood or a nature reserve or a permissive path, where the surrounding flora is, at a cat's eye level, enclosing.
A wood with paths is ideal, but perhaps not best for training. Tall grass is excellent for training - for your cat will feel enclosed, but you will not get the cat's lead trapped in trees or bushes. There are many suitable permissive paths - there is a Natural England www site listing these permissive paths and many are mown paths through tall crops or vegetation.
Cats do not mind cars - with, of course, a few exceptions. But if your cat's only experience of the car is being taken to the vet - then you have been giving aversion therapy! We may take our cats in a carrier to our car, but we invariably let them out, to explore the car. Clearly, if you are on your own, you have to be careful here. But if you have a passenger, then they can restrain the cat should it look like it wants to interfere with safe driving. If your cat's experience of the car is that it goes to interesting places, then the cat will soon accept the car as part of its lair, and will enjoy car trips. There is more about this - Cats and Cars - or how to get pussy liking the car!
How to start walking your cat
So,if you can, take your cat in the car to some nice place that the cat will like. Put the harness on, with a long lead. Put the cat in the bag you have chosen, and start walking. After some time your cat will probably want to get out. Let it. Walk away from it. You need a long lead because at this stage it is a game of nerves - yours against the cat's. Who is going to get worried first - you or the cat? If the lead is long enough, your cat will eventually realise they are in a strange place and their owner is leaving them and they will start to follow.
Never try and catch your cat - they will see you are following them, so will go off and explore. You are there calling them, so they feel quite safe! This is why you need the right terrain: a grassy field with tall grass and a well defined path is ideal.
Cats and dogs often get on very well. But to achieve this, you need to get the dog first, then the kitten. Kittens have a strong need to make friends - with you, with an older cat, with your dog. An older cat has very little use for a puppy! Yes, given time, the puppy will be tolerated, but the bond is unlikely to occur.
Different breeds of cats have different needs when it comes to such bonding. To get the best results - cats of the Siamese group are best. But of course, the results also depend on the dog! There are some stories, with photos, of such bonds - Stories and anecdotes from cat owners and walkers
Page design by Richard Torrens.
Page first published Sunday the 24th of January, 2016.
Last modified: Mon, 05 Feb 2018 08:44:37 GMT
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