Should I use a harness for my cat?
How to get my cat used to a harness and going for a walk
Long answer short, yes you should. Your cat is made of flesh and blood. Any being that has these two things needs to see natural light and fresh air and nothing provides that better than a walk.
Should you take him on a harness? Heck yes! There is no way you can manage your cat in the outdoors without a harness.
Now that you know that your cat needs to go out for walks on a harness, don’t just throw a harness on them and head out, you will hate your cat and yourself. Read on to learn tips and tricks on how to successfully take your cat for a walk on a harness.
First things first
The first thing you must do is procure a fitting and comfortable harness. Many people use Dog leashes on cats but such isn’t good enough and might injure your cat. To secure a good harness you will need to measure your cat’s girth. This is the area behind the front legs. From the company, you intend to buy the harness from, look out for instructions on how to measure the girth and use the directions carefully.
Your cat needs to understand what this new rope like feature called a harness really is. Just like the way you introduced him to his litter box and the new treats you usually give him, he needs to get introduced to the harness. Make the harness available to your cat and let him explore and investigate it at least for the first day. Keep changing the places you put the harness so that your little fellow meets it everywhere he goes around the house.
By the second day, he will be eager to try it on. While giving him a treat, gently strap the harness on him but keep it loose and let him walk around with it for some hours. Keep doing this for at least 3 days. You can also try walking him in your yard with the harness on. Bit by bit, your cat will get used to having a harness on.
Getting ready to hit the road
There are a few things you need to know and carry before you move out with your cat. These are danger preventative measures and will be very helpful for your walk.
Carry a towel
A towel will help you in case your cat gets terrified or panics while in the streets. Just wrap him in the towel and carry him home.
Microchip your cat
A microchipped cat won’t get lost. Veterinarians know that pets have microchips so when found they can be taken to a Veterinarian to be scanned for the microchip which must have all the information about the cat.
Get an ID
You may also want to get an ID if your cat is not microchipped but also because some people may not know that your pet is microchipped. The ID should clearly state your cat’s address and phone number in case the cat escapes from you. The ID will help identify your cat from other cats, especially the street cats but above all your cat will be easily returned to you without you having to worry.
Eliminate ticks from your home
If you are to enjoy a peaceful stay when you return home, you need to ensure that your home is tick free. Ticks and fleas love to hang around cats and disturb their peace. It gets worse when cats move to the outdoors. When they return, they shouldn’t face ticks back at home. Before you go out on your first walk, many days ahead, spray ticks away and apply all other appropriate flea eliminating measures so that your cat has a peaceful stay when you return home.
Brace yourself for the walk
Don’t think that since your cat is now used to the harness, he will not give you a hard time. Many people mistake a cat’s behavior for that of a dog’s. Cats behave very differently from dogs when outdoors. Unlike a few aggressive dogs, dogs will usually walk alongside, ahead or beside their owner but that’s not the case with cats.
Cats love to explore. They will stop to scratch the trees, chase after mice, sniff on things and if they get a chance, they will even run off and climb a tree or hide in a bush. This makes the whole walking process a rather crazy one for you but still worth it.
To control this, you need to be patient, and accept and embrace the hunting instincts of your lovely friend. Gently hang on to the fellow and allow him to explore. Your cat will become brighter and happier visiting the outdoors. He might show you his joy by rolling in the grass, or running and stopping excitedly to sniff at everything. Just let him enjoy. After all, your walk is all about your cat. This is also a special time for you to play and bond with your cat while you also exercise.
Your cat’s reaction
In the streets, your cat might get startled by loud noises and the busyness of the outdoors. That’s why it is good to begin by going to a less busy place like a calm park. Back home expect some unfamiliar behavior. If your cat enjoyed the walk, he will demand to go back.
He might start meowing at the door or he may jump out of the window and escape. He might even become aggressive and stressed because of missing the outdoors. Just stick to your rules and only take him out as scheduled. He will eventually get used to it.
On the first day of your walk, try not to go far and avoid busy places. Remember your cat has 200 million odor-sensitive cells and will react to every smell he senses including gas-filled cars, by-passers, trees, dogs, other cats and just everything. If your cat shows so much interest in the outdoors, don’t limit him. If you don’t have much time to walk him, create an environment for him at your home outdoors. You could build a catio or a cat fence. Another option is to invest in a stroller or a cat bag.