Daily walks with pets offer not just good exercise, but also great bonding moments. That is why owners and pets alike, look forward to this activity every day. While it’s common to see owners walk their dogs around the neighborhood or parks, it’s quite rare to spot cats doing the same. So many are curious, do cats need daily walks? Read further and find out!
Do Cats Need Daily Walks?
Cats don’t need daily walks, but they won’t hurt them either. Instead, they are even beneficial to their health. It’s typical to hear cat owners ask, “can I take my cat for a walk like dogs”? Cats and dogs are the most common family pets in many households. So, both animals get compared with each other a lot of times. Although these four-legged creatures equally give love and joy, they differ significantly from each other.
While dogs need daily walks to shed some extra energy, it’s quite different for cats. Cats are independent and like to decide what they want to do every day. Although, as a cat owner, you may have already noticed that cats’ favorite pastime is napping. In fact, cats sleep for a total of 12 to 18 hours a day, others even reach 20 hours. But this doesn’t mean they aren’t a fan of being active.
Cats enjoy an indoor lifestyle. Compared to dogs, they won’t create messes in the house if they miss a walk outside. Although cats are good with staying at home, it doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy a stroll outside. Even if cats don’t need daily walks, they can still enjoy both the fun and the benefits this physical activity offers!
Despite a cat’s high metabolism, obesity can still be a common risk if there is a lack of physical exercise. In fact, 59.5% of cats in the United States are either overweight or obese according to a survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. So, encouraging your cat to roam around the neighborhood with you every day helps combat obesity and other health issues that come with it.
How Can I Take My Cat For A Walk?
Now, we’ve established that cats can go for walks even if they don’t need to. But, do cats like going on walks? Well, depending on how acclimated your cat is, it may or may not prefer to go for a walk. Can you take a cat for a walk even if it isn’t a fan of it? With the right techniques and positive reinforcement, it’s still possible to do outdoor cat walks. Let’s start off with these steps:
- Get a harness and leash designed for cats. Don’t just grab any leash or harness at the pet store. It’s easy to commit a mistake by getting one that is intended for dogs. Although there may be dog leashes that may fit a cat’s physique, they are designed differently. So, examine the harness and leash closely to ensure they are for cats.
- Acclimate your cat with the leash. Cats are known to be suspicious of new items. So, slowly introduce them to the leash to prevent negative association with it. Never force it on them. Make them comfortable first with its presence by placing it near their lounging areas. As soon as they are used to it, slowly wear it to them and reward them each time they show tolerance to the harness and leash.
- Start with enclosed outdoor areas. Once your kitty is used to the harness and leash, don’t get too excited and run directly outside. Remember to always keep it slow and base it on your cat’s pace. It’s best to start walking in a secure backyard. This is to make sure your kitty will not get startled by loud noises or sudden movements.
- Be patient and reward them. Training your cat to do daily walks with you requires a lot of patience, especially the adult ones. Always associate positive experiences so they’ll learn to look forward to the activity. And for every good behavior they show, reward them with treats.
- Start them young. If you have a kitten, start introducing them to cat walks. In this way, they’ll get used to it at an early age. Thus, making it less of a struggle for you to walk your cat later on.
What Are The Benefits Of Taking My Cat For A Walk
After a lot of patience and positive association, your cat will start enjoying this new outdoor activity with you. Not only will it strengthen your bond together, but also boost your cat’s physical and mental health. Here are the benefits of taking your cat for a walk.
Improves Their Mood
Let’s face it, even as humans, we enjoy going out to explore the world outdoors. It’s no different with cats. They may be a bit hesitant at first. But as soon as they develop a habit of going on walks, they’ll be happy to see different scenes outside. Less grumpy cats mean happier owners too.
It Makes Them Healthier
Many cats live a lazy indoor lifestyle which sometimes leads to health issues like obesity. A 2017 study revealed that overweight cats have a lesser interest in voluntary physical activity than lean cats. They are also less eager to socialize. Walking a cat gives it a dose of exercise to strengthen its muscles and joints. It also helps prevent shed those extra pounds to prevent overweight.
Imagine not knowing what’s outside your house. It can be a bit scary and make you anxious. It’s similar with cats. But if you introduce them to different things outside the home, it gives them a better sense of the environment. So, it makes them more confident and less fearful.
Going on a walk with your cat is a fun activity for both of you. You get companionship, while your cat gets to experience excitement from seeing new things. Your cat will no longer be limited to watching your window as their entertainment. They also get to “feel” the outside of the house.
Fuels Natural Instincts
Cats naturally live in the wild hundreds of years ago. The outdoors used to be their home before they settled indoors with the humans. However, outdoor life also meant a shorter lifespan for these felines. Living alongside humans gave more safety and longer life, but lesser chances of getting outside. So, every time you take your cat for a walk, you are giving it an opportunity to become familiar with nature and stimulate its natural instincts.
Can I Let My Cat Walk By Themselves Outside?
Cats are inherently independent. In fact, even when hunting, they prefer to be alone. So it’s not a surprise if cat owners consider letting their cats walk on their own outside. You can allow your cat to roam freely outdoors in two important conditions. One, your cat is strolling along an enclosed and secured area. And, you have a visual on your cat at all times. As long as you fulfill these two requirements, it’s safe to let your kitty walk off-leash.
On the other hand, if these circumstances are not possible, stick to the safe side and use the harness and leash at all times. By doing so, you lessen the chances of accidents. Common dangers include getting hit by cars, running into fights with other cats, or ingesting poisonous substances outside. Cats may also get in contact with other stray animals and contract diseases. One study showed that free-roaming cats are more likely to catch and transmit diseases outside.
Cats are naturally curious and they may get carried away. They climb tall trees and find it hard to come down giving you more trouble. Or worse, they may chase prey and get lost. You know how quickly they can spring into action when prey is visible. So, using a leash is still the best way to keep your cat safe while going on walks outside.
Do Cats Need Daily Walks: FAQs
Now you have more knowledge on the common cat owner questions such as “should I walk my indoor cat outside?”. Let’s take a look at more frequently asked questions about this topic and their corresponding answers below.
Yes, you can walk cats on a leash. It is safer to do so especially if you live in a city where they can get hit by cars. However, you’ll need to acclimate your cat with the harness and leash before using them outside. Make sure your cat is comfortable with it and never force your cat in wearing it.
Yes, your cat will reap many health benefits from this activity. They can get physical exercise, experience a confidence boost, and enjoy nature outside. At the same time, it also improves the bond of your relationship.
For safety and control, it’s best to use a harness and leash specific for cats. Get your cat comfortable with it first for days or even weeks. Then start in an enclosed outdoor area. Let your cat take the lead in exploring and avoid tugging. Eventually, you can progress to taking your cat outside like parks, or even on al fresco coffee dates.
Indoor cats may have varying preferences toward walking outside. Adult cats in particular may be harder to convince to go outside on walks with you. But with patience and perseverance, you can achieve success in getting your cat to adapt to this outdoor activity.
Cats don’t need daily walks, so there isn’t any required frequency for this activity. You can decide based on your availability or on your kitty’s preference. However, if you can do it daily, it will be highly beneficial to you and your kitty.
It’s quite rare to see cats getting walks outside. That is why many cat owners wonder if you can take cats on walks. It may be challenging in the beginning but walking your cat outside offer numerous advantages mentioned above. Now, you’ll have a great bonding activity you can add to your daily routine with your beloved kitty.