Do Cats Like Being Walked On A Leash?

Cats are infamously known for being independent and free-spirited. So the idea of putting a harness and leash on a cat might seem silly or futile. However, an increasing number of cat owners are discovering the benefits of walking their cats on a leash. In fact, according to a Twitter post, journalist Dana Perino didn’t know how many people walk their cats until someone told her “they need a dog.” While cats will never be as readily walkable as dogs, they can enjoy and benefit from leash walks with proper training and equipment. For cats and owners seeking enrichment, exercise, and bonding outside the confines of home, leash walking may be just the activity.

Safety Benefits

Walking cats on leashes can help keep them safe by preventing them from escaping or getting lost outside (Can You Walk a Cat?, 2022). Cats have a strong instinct to explore but allowing them free range outdoors comes with many dangers. According to Should I walk my cat on a leash? (2022), indoor cats should still get supervised outdoor time but a harness and leash keeps them protected.

Leash walking gives cats enrichment while controlling their environment. Outdoor access may satisfy a cat’s curiosity without the risks of running off, getting hit by a car, ingesting toxins, or fighting with other cats. Keeping cats leashed ensures owners can monitor their activity and quickly intervene if needed.

Physical Activity

Allowing a cat to walk outside provides much needed physical activity and mental stimulation. Many cats spend the majority of their time indoors and can become bored or restless. According to Siberian Reinhardt, walking a cat on a leash allows the cat to explore new environments, sights, sounds and smells. This provides mental enrichment. Additionally, the physical act of walking provides good exercise for indoor cats. Studies show indoor cats benefit from daily exercise to help prevent obesity and related health issues. Taking your cat for walks is an easy way to ensure they get adequate activity. Make sure to bring along interactive toys to further engage your cat during the walk.

Bonding Experience

Walking a cat on a leash can be an excellent way to strengthen the relationship between cat and human companion. According to Munchkin Kitten Store, leash walks provide unique bonding experiences as you venture outdoors together. The one-on-one time allows you to build trust and reinforce your connection.

Leash training requires patience, understanding, and positive reinforcement. As you work together to master the new skill, you’ll deepen your bond with your feline friend. The shared focus creates an opportunity for special moments of affection and fun. Over time, leash walks can become treasured routines that bring you closer.

Potential Downsides

While walking a cat on a leash can provide benefits, there are also some potential downsides to consider. One major concern is fear, stress or injury from improper use of leashes and harnesses. As noted by Fear Free Happy Homes, cats can experience stress when restrained on a leash if they are not properly trained[1]. Escaping from an improperly fitted harness can also lead to injuries if the cat becomes entangled or falls from heights[2]. Proper training, use of secure harnesses, and close supervision are essential to minimizing fear, stress and injury risks when walking cats.

Proper Training

Cats require patience and proper technique when getting them accustomed to walking on a leash. According to experts, you’ll need to take it slow by first letting your cat get used to wearing a harness and dragging the leash around indoors. Give your cat treats as positive reinforcement. Once they seem comfortable, pick up the end of the leash and walk with your cat inside.

Gradually build up to taking your cat outside on the leash, keeping sessions brief at first. Let them dictate the pace and don’t force them. With gentle guidance and persistence, most cats can be leash trained successfully. However, some cats may never take to it based on their unique personality. If your cat seems fearful or agitated, pause the training and try again later.

Proper encouragement, patience and short, positive training sessions are key for leash training cats, according to Never punish or scold your cat during the process. With time, your cat can become comfortable walking on a leash for exercise and enrichment.

Choosing the Right Equipment

When selecting leashes, harnesses, and collars for walking your cat, there are some key features to look for:

For leashes, opt for a lightweight model about 4-6 feet long to give your cat some freedom to explore while maintaining control. Consider a retractable leash to allow your cat to investigate their surroundings. Make sure the leash clip is secure and ideally has a swivel feature to prevent twisting.

Look for harnesses designed specifically for cats, which distribute pressure across the torso rather than the neck. Key features include adjustable straps, lightweight and breathable fabric, and a sturdy D-ring leash attachment point placed at the back. The harness should be snug but not constricting.

A breakaway or safety collar is recommended as a backup in case the harness fails. Choose a lightweight collar with a safety release clasp that will detach if pulled or caught.

Prioritize comfort, adjustability, security, and safety when selecting walking equipment for your cat. Investing in high-quality gear will make walks more pleasant for both of you.

Setting Expectations

It’s important to set reasonable expectations when starting to walk your cat. Cats tend to move at a slower pace and cover less ground than dogs. According to The Dos and Don’ts of Walking Your Cat, cats may only walk for 10-15 minutes at a time. Don’t expect your cat to keep up if you try walking them alongside a dog. Give your cat time to explore at their own pace and enjoy all the interesting smells. Trying to rush them along will likely just stress them out. Have patience as you both get used to this new activity.

Establishing a Routine

When establishing a walking routine with your cat, consistency is key. Pick a time of day when your cat is naturally active and energetic to start the walk. Many cats become lively at dawn and dusk, as these are their natural hunting times. Starting the routine at the same time each day will help the cat look forward to their daily walk.

In terms of location, start by walking close to home in very familiar territory. This could be your backyard, apartment hallway, or nearby park. Stick to quiet, low-traffic areas without many people or animals around. Cats feel most secure in environments they already know. Once the routine is established, you can venture slightly further away.

Try to walk when the weather is mild and calm. Avoid cold or rainy days. Watch your cat’s body language carefully for signs of stress like flattened ears, wide eyes, and low crouching. If the cat seems uneasy, gently guide them back home. With patience and short, positive walks, your cat will get comfortable on leash adventures.

According to experts, the ideal frequency is once or twice per day for 10-20 minutes each session. This provides physical and mental enrichment. But adjust the timing and distance based on your individual cat’s temperament and energy level. Some cats may only tolerate short, occasional walks.1


In summary, while walking cats on a leash has some potential downsides like stress and escape risks, the benefits often outweigh the risks for many cat owners. With proper training, patience, and the right equipment, leash walking can provide cats with exercise, mental stimulation, bonding time with their owner, and access to the outdoors safely. Key takeaways include starting leash training slowly, keeping sessions short at first, using positive reinforcement, and letting your cat set the pace. Overall, leash walking, when done correctly, can be an enriching experience that improves the health and happiness of both cats and their owners.

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