Is it cruel to walk your cat?

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Should someone mention the idea of taking an animal for a walk, it’s 99% likely that the first creature that springs to mind will be a dog.

And, while this is still the pet that is most likely to be taken for a wander in the fresh air by its owner, more and more animals around the country are becoming comfortable with the idea of going for a stroll without causing too much unnecessary stress to the individual leading the escapade.

In other words, with the number of people living in flats without garden access higher than ever before, cat walking is likely to become more and more mainstream.

So, if you own a cat and haven’t yet considered taking it for a walk around the block, maybe this article will convince you that it’s actually something that’s eminently achievable if you go about it in the right way.

A little bit of background

The UK is a nation of animal lovers. Estimates suggest that there are currently around 51 million pets living in the UK, which is quite a staggering number.

It is often joked that people would rather spend money on their pets than themselves, and while this is somewhat apocryphal, it is certainly true that the cost of looking after a pet can be costly. Between years of food supplies, veterinary treatments, and pet-sitting costs, it’s no surprise that the overall number can be quite considerable.

Regardless of the pet you own, it is absolutely essential that you have the right insurance in place just in case the worst should happen. The last thing that you want if your cat, dog, llama or horse falls ill is to have to fork out thousands of pounds to look after them. By choosing the correct insurance policy to suit you, your requirements and your circumstances, you can have peace of mind that your beloved animal will be looked after adequately, and that you won’t be out of pocket.

Of course, when you own a pet, you need to ensure that it remains as healthy as possible, and taking out insurance is only part of that overall process. You also need to feed your animals the right food, give it enough stimulation to keep its brain ticking over, and ensure that it exercises enough each and every day.

Did you know that 83% of vets report higher numbers of overweight pets being brought to their surgery, and in the past year alone, more than one million cat owners have been told that their pet is overweight? Or that estimates suggest one in eight pets should currently be considered as obese (source: Direct Line)?

This is an issue that needs to be tackled, and that’s where walking comes in very handy indeed.

Who let the cats out?

Walking a cat is not something that, traditionally, has been considered viable. While dogs are often very willing to be obedient, cats prefer to plough their own furrow; they tend to be their own masters, and they do not listen to commands in the same way.

However, this doesn’t mean that cats cannot be trained or taught how to appreciate walks with their owner. By utilising the right methods, you can ensure your cat is able to trim the fat, live longer, and be healthier.

Is it something that is cruel? Absolutely not. For indoor cats in particular, walking is arguably a necessity to look after their health and general well-being. But is it something that will take time to conquer? Most definitely.

  1. Utilise a harness rather than a leash. Cats, unlike dogs, find it very difficult to get used to the idea of having something around their necks, and so using a harness will make them feel more at ease. Also, cats enjoy running and climbing up trees and poles, and a harness is much better for enabling this.
  2. Take it slow. Pets, be they a cat or a dog, need to be introduced to new ideas slowly. By taking your time, and by doing everything gradually, they will become far more used to the idea, and will ultimately find it to be a normal state of affairs.
  3. Get your cat used to the kit first. Before you step out of your front door, let your cat get used to the idea of wearing a harness while in the house, as this will limit the number of new experiences that it gets exposed to in one go.
  4. Stay away from noisy areas. Both cats and dogs enjoy being outside, but if you can get them to a quiet, serene location full of fresh air, they will enjoy the experience far more than they would if you take them out for a walk beside a motorway.

Are you a cat walker? Let us know in the comments if your cat enjoys it and how you went about introducing walkies to your kitty.

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