April 8, 2015

Environmental Enrichment For Kitties Via Cat Walking

Author: Kristin Skelton


Cat Walking. A Safe Way To Broaden Your Cat’s Horizons.

Indoor cats are captive animals. Much like animals found in zoo environments, it is important to make sure their environment is stimulating in order to keep them healthy.

Most cats, given the chance, LOVE to be outdoors. Their natural instinct to hunt prey, explore and climb are best experienced outside. Cats thrive on environmental enrichment, however, cats that have free access to the outdoors are unfortunately often exposed in a negative way. Predators, poisons, speeding traffic, etc. are risks of allowing your cat to do what they love… attack the outdoors.

How then do you keep your cat stimulated? You can add lots of fun cat shelves, toys and cute window seats to your home, but what about giving them the opportunity to explore the outside envirionment in a safe manner? One way to broaden your cat’s horizons, while ensuring safety in the process is to, just like we do with our dogs, walk your cat.

According to the ASPCA, outdoor excursions can reduce obesity and boredom-related behavior problems that many underexercised indoor cats develop.

Plus, cat walking is just a lot of fun for both kitty and handler. Here are 7 items to think about when adding cat walking to your kitty’s daily schedule:

Health Check. Make sure your cat is healthy and able to partake in outside activities. Take your kitty to the vet, check vaccination levels and discuss your desire to walk your cat outside with your vet.

Accessorize. Purchase a harness and leash designed for kitties. Cats can climb and move quickly. Simply attaching a leash to your cat’s collar could pose a choking hazard. A slipped collar could result in a missing kitty. Try a harness and leash designed for cats such as the Come With Me Kitty, the Walking Jacket, or the Kitty Holster.

Start Inside. Before sticking your cat into a harness and dragging them outside, start inside. Get them used to wearing the harness and being attached to you.

TREATS! Use postive reinforcement. Treat your kitty when they are wearing the harness and when they walk calmly with you indoors. You will want to take those treats with you when you then are ready to venture outside.

Go Slow. Start in a quiet part of your neighborhood. Kitties that have spent much of their lives indoors will be skittish when it comes to weather, traffic and other outside stimuli. Take it slow and add new experiences each day. It might take a whole month to get them used to touching grass and being tethered to you. Give them time to build their confidence and eventually you will be enjoying nature walks together.

Confidence. Let your cat experience the outdoors. Avoid picking them up unless they are in true danger. Indoor cats will take time to adjust to all that the outside world has to offer.

Consistency. Cats like consistency. Get your cat on a walking schedule. Some in-home pet care services, like Floofins & Company, offer Cat Walking Services while you are away. Enjoy the awesomeness of coming home to a content kitty AND a scooped litter box!

The ASPCA has a wonderful resource with additional details on Teaching Your Cat To Walk On A Leash. Your cat will love the new experiences the world of outside has to offer!


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