How to leash walk your cat

Almo Nature kattenbakvulling

In Dutch newspaper Het Parool of 21 September 2021, Stadskatten was interviewed about leash walking cats in the city. Read along:

But isn’t that a bit sad?
Cat behaviourist Esmerij van Loon (48): “If a cat is often left alone for long periods of time in a small flat without a garden or balcony, it can get bored. This can lead to apathy. Then they sleep all day, overeat or start fussing, like hanging in the curtains.”

“Owners often punish this behaviour, which puts pressure on the relationship with the cat. Because cats do not connect their own behaviour and the punishment, they often develop more problem behaviour. That is why I think walking a cat is a good idea. People are actively involved with their cats, they are not left to their own devices.”

“But this doesn’t mean that every indoor cat must be walked. It is mainly about doing something with your cat. If you play with it daily, you regularly enrich its food and it has enough space to live, walking is not necessary.”

Leash walking tips:
■ Let the cat get used to the leash. “You do that by first letting him sniff the harness or let him hear the sound of the buckles. As soon as he responds well to that, give him a treat. You will notice when he is getting curious and wants to move on.

■ The cat sets the pace. “Don’t yank on the leash if it sits down. Wait, stay calm and give confidence.”

■ Walk the same route often and at a fixed time. Cats like routine and are more at ease if they know their surroundings.

■ Be patient. “This whole process can sometimes take weeks. A matter of a lot of patience and tasty treats.”