Ask the Cat Daddyby Jackson Galaxy
Hey there Cat Daddy,
I was walking with my boyfriend last night and we saw someone walking their cat on a harness
and leash. I thought it seemed like a cool idea but my boyfriend laughed at the concept and
thought I was insane. What’s your take on leash-walking cats?
Debbie - Lynnwood, WA
Let me first say that I am already a fan of clicker training (a form of operant conditioning). I can’t even count how many times I’ve broken out the technique in all of the seasons of “My Cat From Hell.” Whether it’s to teach your cat to walk on a leash, go into their carrier, or a multitude of other things, it’s a rocking tool to have in your toolbox for a number of reasons: it is a way to stimulate a cat’s mind and body, get them to do stuff they might not normally do (at least not for you), all while increasing the human-cat bond. In fact, look no further than my Cat Pawsitive program (established through the Jackson Galaxy Project). This is a mojo-enhancing, positive-reinforcement clicker training initiative that, among other things, enriches day-to-day life for cats in shelters, and helps to improve adaptability.
Leash-walking is also great because it provides an extra dose of exercise for your cat—and when they are outside, with all of the Raw Cat senses in high gear, they come home tired in a 360 degree way. It’s a great way to change things up, stave off “play boredom,” and just provide an extra complimentary dose of play along with interactive daily sessions. So the short answer is, yes—I’m all for leash-walking your cat, presuming that we have a thumbs-up from the most important family member: the cat actually wants to go for a walk!
If your cat is one who typically avoids hanging out anywhere near the front door and doesn’t exhibit any interest in the great outdoors—or who even might be fearful of going outside—don’t bother. Many cats are content to just sit in the window and watch the world go by, and if that sounds like yours, so be it.
However, if you have a real "door-dasher" on your hands, and your cat is endlessly fascinated with what’s going on out there, then he or she will likely be a perfect candidate for the “cat walk,” as it were.
Here are a few tips and tricks for a successful walking routine with your cat:
Walking your cat can prove to be an enriching, Mojo-rific routine for both of you. And so long as your cat is up for the daily adventure, I’m definitely down for the two of you making a new habit of it. And hey, Debbie—if your boyfriend is embarrassed to be seen with a confident,
adventurous woman and her cat, well then that might tell you a little bit about who Mr. Right isn’t… if you get my drift.