black persian cat walking on a leash

Benefits of Walking Your Cat on a Leash

Last Updated on May 30, 2021 by Holly Anne Dustin

Dogs no longer corner the market on outdoor adventures. Cats are out there too. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of cats on leashes or in a spaceship backpack or stroller. There is a cat going on a bike trip around the world with her human pal. Cats these days go climbing, camping and even boating.

The #adventurecat hashtag on Instagram will bring you 325K results. Adventurecats.org, a website for feline adventurers, gets thousands of visits a month. Blogs dedicated to the cat explorer community continue to appear. Three of my cats have Instagram hashtags to share their adventures.

But other  than internet fame what are the benefits of walking your cat on a leash?

Improved Health

An indoor lifestyle is safer for your kitty, but it comes with some costs as well. Sharing the big world with your cats can improve her physical and mental health.

Obesity

Just like our sedentary life has increased the average human waistline, 60% of cats in the US are overweight. Getting Kitty back to nature will keep him from packing on the pounds. It won’t do us any harm either.

You don’t have to climb a mountain if that’s not your thing, just take Kitty out in the yard.

Walking your cat on a leash lets him explore his wild side. He can experience the joys that an outside cat does, without all the danger.

Mental Health

Cats need mental and visual stimulation. I firmly believe that a properly enriched indoor environment does meet those needs for cats that are too afraid to go adventuring outside. But if your kitty is up for it, your curtains and couches will thank you for taking him for a walk.

Adventuring relieves the stress and boredom Kitty feels inside all day. A regular trip into his community keeps his mind sharp and active. Fresh air and exercise can help relieve depression for both you and Kitty.

Successfully navigating new experiences build his confidence and make him a happier cat. Happy cats are less prone to behavior problems. Even Jackson Galaxy is on board with it.

Energy and Sleep

If you have young cats bouncing off the walls, train them to walk on a harness and take them hiking around the block. You will all sleep better for it. He may want to head to the mountains next.

To read our guide on how to train your cat to a leash and harness click here.

Enrichment and Enjoyment

Walking your cat on a leash lets him explore his wild side. He can experience the joys that an outside cat does, without all the danger.

Seeing the world through your Kitty’s eyes on a cat-led adventure gives you different perspectives on places you may have seen a thousand times before. Kitty sees details you would miss.

Unlike most dog walks, the purpose of going catting isn’t to get from point A to point B directly and in time. Instead, it is wander here and there, back up and maybe go forward or sideways kind of walk. I tell people that really your cat walks you.

It isn’t about the destination but about spending time with your furry buddy watching him enjoy the wind in his fur, sniffing a flower, nibbling the grass, or grabbing a bug. It’s about letting a cat be a cat.

Taking Kitty out in the community gives you both the opportunity to enjoy new experiences together and to meet new people. This is invaluable socialization for Kitty, especially for a young cat.

According to Dr. Karen Becker “An ideal lifestyle for your kitty would be one in which she has challenging outdoor adventures (every trip outside is challenging to an indoor cat) that enrich her otherwise comfortable, if unstimulating indoor existence.”

benefits of leash walking your cat

Stronger Relationships

Just as spending time with friends brings you closer, adventures with your cat will strengthen your relationship.

New activities improve your communication and increase the trust between you.

For tips on traveling with your kitty click here.

The shared experiences will help you learn to listen to each other. You learn to read his body language for signs of stress or fear. You learn who and what he’s comfortable with and what his tolerance level is with any given situation.

Sometimes that means you have to manage a difficult situation

Typically that means off leash dogs, with people who aren’t paying attention to their pet. Since Plush and I typically do more touring than wild adventures we have not had any difficult dog encounters so far.

In our experience most of the people we have met out with their dogs are respectful and impressed Plush is out there. He doesn’t usually mind dogs much; though an unexpected face-to-face encounter with a Great Dane at a street fair had him retreating to his backpack to regroup.

The situation we have had the most difficulty with is kids. Plush wasn’t raised around little kids. I have no problem with people petting him. Most are just thrilled to pet him and everyone wants to take his picture.

But toddlers are a challenge. They tend to pat not pet and Plush hates it. I don’t usually offer unless the little kid has siblings that are petting him. Then I will – but I’m quicker to step back. And it’s on me to say, he’s had enough, he’s going to take a nap now.

Sometimes I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone and risk offending someone for my cat’s comfort which is hard for me.

That’s how Kitty learns to know that you have his back and trusts you to keep him safe and not to lead him astray. This will increase his confidence as you explore further.

Patience and understanding is necessary to go out adventuring with your feline friend

Start small and expand his territory as he feels comfortable. Stretch a new explorer into new experiences gently. Don’t force him to do more than he wants to tackle on any given day.

We wanted to take our three little girls on a hike, but settled for a trip to the local park because two of them showed us they weren’t ready for trails yet.

Mocha spent an hour enjoying fresh air and playing in the pine needles while Caramel checked out the high spots in the skate park and Betsy toured the entire park chasing bugs. They all had a good time. Maybe next time a short trail walk will work.

Brown tabby long haired cat walking on a pink leash

Walking on a Leash Can Change the Lives of Cats

Most people are fascinated to see a cat on a leash, in a backpack, or riding in his stroller.

Every opportunity is not just a chance for your cat to meet others, but an opportunity to show people that cats are more than couch potatoes.

Make it Easy to Travel with Your Cat with Our Free Guide

You will also get access to our exclusive, subscriber-only, Resource Library full of free and paid ebooks, guides and printables; as well as our “mews”-letter with current posts, cat-related news, and a monthly calendar of activities and adventures for you to share with your special feline friend.

Sharing the basics of leash training with people admiring your adventure cats may increase the odds of another cat being able to experience the benefits of an outdoor adventure. Or you may inspire a business person to make their establishment cat friendly.

It is important to educate people about the benefits of walking your cat on a leash. Most people believe that cats are independent, low-maintenance pets that don’t care about us (false), can not be trained (false), that they are unable to leash walk (false.) The myths about cats abound and it is important to educate the public about the reality of living with cats.

What about you? Do you take your cats out walking on a leash? What benefits have you seen? If you haven’t tried adventuring with your kitty yet what stops you from trying it? Would love to hear about your experiences. Leave a comment or come join us on Facebook.

8 thoughts on “Benefits of Walking Your Cat on a Leash”

  1. In the 80s my oldest sister used to walk her two cats on a leash. It was a strange sight, but they seemed to enjoy it! I keep hoping my younger sister will start walking her cat, I think he would love it, although he is a bit nervous about new things.

  2. Our cats would probably hate a harness but they are active outdoor garden cats.

    I do know, however, that they need a harness in the stroller we go to the vets. I have to make sure they are firmly fastened in.

  3. I love the idea of walking your cat and remember when I had my first cat my Mom decided to do that and went and bought a leash, the cat sat at the bottom of the steps and refused to move, so they stood for like 15 minutes till my Mom gave up.

  4. I used to walk my cats on leashes when they were younger. They’re old now and much prefer their cushy indoor window seat. I still provide indoor enrichment for them though! I also hear you on the situations you’ve encountered with little kids. Two of my dogs are scared of little kids and it’s always awkward when I have to tell them “no, you can’t pet”.

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