The Benefits of Cat Walking


Colin outside staring at something.
We have two Maine Coon cats. Colin and Kirsty. Colin has not realized that he’s a cat yet. I think he thinks he’s a dog. he follows people around the house, keeping them company wherever they go. He doesn’t sit on our laps, but at our feet. he rarely asks to be petted, but on the occasions when he does lie beside you and let you rub his belly you feel somehow incredibly honored. He is curious about everything and has never met a stranger he didn’t like. Kirsty is the opposite–the original scaredy cat. When she is around the rule is “No sudden movements”, in fact she prefers no movement at all. She is terrified of new people, and of people she likes who rush about, but she loves to be petted. When she can get up the courage (usually when you are asleep), she will snuggle up beside you and head butt you until you wake up and pet her. She will also try to wash your hair for you, and she is good at unravelling knitting.

When we got these cats I wanted to train them to walk on a leash so that they could go outside safely. With Kirsty’s fear issues, I abandoned the idea straight away, but Colin, being afraid of nothing, seemed like a good candidate for training. He tolerates the leash well and loves to go outside, but going for walks has turned out to be a bit of a pipe dream. I used to wonder if Colin was a dog trapped in a cat’s body, but after having tried to leash train him I now know that he is undoubtedly and wholeheartedly a cat. And cats do not go for walks. They wander randomly around the garden, they chase insects, they stare at things, but they do not walk. They go where their heart leads them, and their heart rarely leads them in a straight line along the sidewalk. If Colin sees a bird he takes off without warning at a speed the leash holder cannot match, practically strangling himself in the process. He also takes an unreasonable amount of “rests” during his time outdoors. A walk with Colin goes something like this:

    1. Walk from front door to first bush in the garden.
    2. Sit under the bush for a while.
    3. Get up and travel over to the driveway.
    4. Have a nice lie down on the concrete for a while.
    5. Go over to where the catnip is growing and roll on it.
    6. Was that a RABBIT? Go like the blazes!
    7. Complain loudly about the leash and the human at the end of the leash who scared away the rabbit.
    8. Whew! that was exhausting, I need another lie down

You get the picture. I have failed miserably in my goal of exercising the cat and myself at the same time. I still take Colin out because he likes it so much, but a walk with a cat turns out to be an aimless wander around the yard for me. Its not exercise, but it is not without pleasure.

Walking with Colin reminds me of the first walks I took with my children when they were toddlers. Sometimes we only got as far as the end of the driveway. We stopped and looked at rocks, we splashed in puddles, we noticed the birds and the butterflies, we picked up roly-polies (well, the children did). As far as going for a walk was concerned we failed quite miserably–but I learned that when I take things slow I notice a lot of beautiful things that escape me when I am moving at my normal speed. The cat and the child know that, the adult forgets.

Getting back to the cat walking–Here’s another cat that “walks” like Colin.

Others have been much more sucessful–I wonder how they manage it?

104 thoughts on “The Benefits of Cat Walking

  1. Seeing that your Maine Coon is B&W (didn’t know that was possible) I am now thinking that my 19 lb, although not overweight cat, Brian, might indeed be part Coon! Good luck with the walking (or not walking).

    1. Hi Emily,
      Yes– you can get maine coons in almost all colours! If your cat is 19lb he may be part coon–does he have any other characteristics of the breed–like tufted paws or lynx tips on his ears? Colin is a smaller male–only about 16lb.

  2. Cat on a leash?! Very interesting. What a great concept. I do not think any of the cats I know would take to it very well, but it would seem to be worth a try! : ) Cats are so sweet and have such personality.

    1. I think you have to get them early and train them to the leach when they are still young. (not that I have managed to train Colin very well). When they get older it is hard for them to get used to the leash and they spend all their time trying to get the leash off instead of walking!

  3. There are two cats in my family. We often wish we could let them out without endangering them or worrying if they’d come back, but none of us think they’d take to the leash. I feel sorry for the poor cat in the first video. No wonder he doesn’t like his human for that.

  4. At first my cat Casey was quite cooperative although she prefered to walk along the curb rather than on the street. As she got older she tended to do the same as your cat. A neighbour of mine was walking by my place with his dog. My cat and I were in the driveway. She was on her leash. She as splayed out on the driveway, her leash fully extended and me standing around like a fool. I just smiled at him but decided then and there that she will no longer be going on walks. How embarrassing!

    The only walks she goes on now are from the back yard to the front yard so she can keep me company while I do my gardening. She has a long leash, which I tie to a branch so she can wander around the garden without having to drag the leash everywhere.

    1. I need to get a long leash like that for Colin. That way I could just “supervise” and not have to follow him about everywhere!

  5. I recall one picture I saw online of two people who had thought that taking the cats for a walk in a local park might be a good idea.

    They were standing next to a tree with both leashes disappearing up into the foliage. Whoops …

  6. I’ve always wanted to walk my cat, but I always thought it a bit cruel, your cats look like they enjoy it so much, I’m convinced I’m going to try!

    1. As long as they get used to the leash and dont spend all their time trying to take it off I think it is OK. Depends totally on the personality of the cat. Good Luck!

  7. haha! That first video reminds me of our cat! I am totally a dog person, so I often try to treat my cat like a dog. I did try to take her for a walk, but ended up dragging her b/c she just fell over and refused to walk. She also looked really ticked off that I was even attempting to undignify her through such an activity! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Your cat isn’t that bad! I’ve seen worse. And seriously that 2nd video? Awesome! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Congrats on making FP!

  8. I love main coon kitties. I used to walk my kitties on a leash when I was younger. After time the older of the two took to it. I certainly got some funny looks going down the street. Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  9. My late cat used to walk on a leash and loved it. He belonged to my late mother and stepdad. He was on a leash tethered to a clothes line. After years of being used to the harness he just started walking in the house with it on and it went from there on. My stepdad used to take him to hospitals on the leash as well.

  10. when i was younger i’d walk our cat…he never really cooperated. then he acquired a love for the outdoors and would sneak out…luckily he always came home ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. I seriously doubt two katz (ssshhh they know when I’m talking about them) I now would be seen dead with their paws on actual ground. They are 8 and 9 and have not been on solid ground since their kittenhood. They have turned in to two of the most militant moggies I’ve ever known.

  12. All the animals in our home seem to take over our life!

    They all get fed before we do and our long haired moggy, Bartholomew is now an extremely vocal cat – but he has to have some concession, he’s reached the ripe old age of 100 in cat years ๐Ÿ™‚

    He rules the whole household and quite easily bosses our two much bigger dogs about, bashes them on the nose once in while but is still quite happy to snuggle in between them when we go to bed.

    Not much room on our bed by the time you’ve got a rottweiler, a large cross breed (the size of a small Labrador) and one big fluffy cat!

    NIce blog post, congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    1. Thanks! Sounds like you have a houseful! My old cat Ben used to yowl like Bartholemew–usually at night when we were trying to sleep. I think it was old age.

  13. I once saw somebody walking their cat on a leash as I was trying to walk my dog. Thankfully, I was able to cross the street before anything untoward happened.

    1. Yes–its always dangerous to be out with a cat when a dog goes by. You never know how either will react. Another danger of the outdoors!

  14. Aw. This story makes me miss my Maine Coon Malcolm. ( We had him for 19 years.) When he was a kitten, we put him on a leash so he could safely enjoy the great outdoors for a few hours at a time. It took a few weeks for him to get used to the collar and leash, but eventually he got used to it and liked to lounge on the patio. We never tried to walk him, though.

    1. Malcolm is such a great name for a cat. He sounds like he was a great cat–19 years is a wonderful lifespan. I wish Colin would just lounge on the patio!

  15. From a kitten you can probably train a cat to do most anything. That said, by nature most cats will act just as you describe. Some might also flip and try to extricate themselves from the harness.

    I have two cats (and two dogs) and while the thought of walking them had passed my mind with them or other various cats I’ve had over the years, it just never seemed worth the effort or need.

    On the other hand, I nearly had one cat potty trained. The trick is making sure you have two bathrooms and making sure you stick to the training.

    Oh, it’d be so nice if I didn’t have a litter box any more!

    1. Potty trained cats would be fantastic. I wish you success! The litter box is one thing I would be glad to get rid of.

  16. My mom used to have a cat that loved going on walks. He walked nicely until they passed a dog. Then, he’d slip his harness and jump into her arms! My cat likes to go outside, but he’s more like yours. We go outside, he rolls, he stretches, he suns, he eats grass. We never get far from the door!

  17. I remember the first time I tried to walk my cat – pretty much made it from the house to the garden where she decided to plop down – just rolled in the dirt and smelled the veggies. I still remember the time we put a collar on her and we came home to her yowling because she had 3 of her paws stuck up in the collar – one of her claws was stuck in the collar material – felt so bad because we did not know how long she was like that – so the collar and the leash disappeared in a closet never to be used again. I know a lady and her cat does great on a leash – so Good Luck. Congrats on being FP!

    1. Thats a great story about the collar–poor kitty. My last cat, Ben, was like that too. I waited too long to try putting a collar on him. All he did once the collar was on was run around the house trying to get it off. He never gave up until I took it off for him.

  18. It’s nice to see someone else who “walks” their cat. My cat, Ziggy, and I have been attempting it for a few years now (with slim success). He loves being outside, but the minute I try to take him in a direction that he doesn’t want to go, he’s laid out on the ground.

    But it’s fun and it’s a good way for him to see nature while I can still feel safe that he won’t run away.

  19. lol. i must forward this to my sister-in-law who has a cat. have you seen a rabbit on a leash? i saw that the other day and wondered if the little girl was really trying to walk it.

  20. Our cat is the exact same way. He loves being outside in our garden, so I thought walking him on a leash would be a great way to let him explore more of our neighborhood in a safe manner.

    But it didn’t work. He just flopped on the ground like your cat and refused to go anywhere. He preferred to roll on the concrete or nuzzle in the grass. He even ended up chewing off his collar. So now, we just let him go outside under our supervision without a leash and he knows not to go too far away.

    Loved this blog, thanks for brightening my day a little!

    Angie

  21. Yeah, kind of hard to walk a cat. Each cat has their own personality. I tried putting my cat on a leash to train it to be outdoors. We just ended up sitting on a step and watching the birds. Cats like doing that. Wondering how they’re going to get up in that tree and catch that bird…

  22. Thanks for sharing these video clips. I can’t imagine taking my cat for a walk. When I got my cat he was all white and would fit in the color scheme of our other cats. But he is so awnry he turned into a siamese looking color cat with long fur and white chest color and socks. He also thinks I am here to wait on him.

    Thanks again,
    Karrie

  23. I think the point is that we have forgotten out place!
    CATS ARE ALWAYS IN CHARGE!
    The leash is not for us to keep the cat on track but for the cat to keep us on track!

    Get with the program humans! – big smiles!

  24. Cats do really make people smile with their antics and they totally have the right to annoy people and then make it up for their cuteness!

    Just reading your post made me smile and got me thinking about how would it be if I placed my cat on a leash~

    ๐Ÿ˜€

  25. You said it melody! Cats know when they are not getting enough attention (or the wrong kind) and they have no bones about pestering you until you give them what they want! I have a comic strip on my blog about a cat who prevents a guy from walking, with good reason. You can read it at pezcita.wordpress.com.

  26. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! The article is great, and very funny. I’m going to send it to my brother and sister in law to read–they have numerous cats and will get a kick out of reading your attempts to take your kitty for a walk.

  27. I have also tried to walk my cat, because she would sit in the house and stare so intently at the world outdoors I figured she considered me a more a prison warden than a mom. She will walk on a leash, but its a sideways stumbling drunk-like walk… after a few attempts I realized it was because I was using the dog’s collar and leash, which jangled in a way that usually signalled danger to her! Now we have an enclosed terrace and she paws and meows at the door every morning for me to let her out, so she can roll around on the ground in the sun.

    To solve the exercise portion of it — have you tried carrying him for a walk? Although Smokey doesnt like to be held normally, she is very calm and receptive to a brisk walk around the neighborhood (so long as you don’t mind the occasional odd stare).

    1. I havent tried carrying him–I think he might get nervous about that–since he isn’t a very snuggly cat–he likes to do things on his own terms. I’ve seen people pushing cats in strollers as well. Youre right about the odd stares!

  28. My cat is much like your Colin. I tried to train her to walk on a leash when she was younger and she would just lay in the driveway. She likes being indoors much better. Haha. Good luck with Colin. ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Hahah! Loved your post. It’s so true – cat goes from door to under tree/bush and then just rolls around.
    I learned to walk my cat, Conan the Furhairian, the hard way – his brother was killed by my neighbour’s dog at only a few months old, right on my porch. I only let him out for a few minutes. (I made a pretty nice trib vid for “Cat Stevens” if anyone’s interested – it’s pretty tough to watch still! http://youtu.be/iiB_MHAdAWE )

  30. This article is great! I love cats but because of a busy work schedule, I can’t get a cat of my own.

    The pic of Colin is cute and the video of Sylvester is funny.

    Cheers on a great article!

  31. I have a big orange cat named Tejas that sounds a lot like Colin. I think he might be part maine coon. He even barked when we first got him – when he was mad. But he’s a pretty easy going cat – always greets us and strangers at the door and likes to make sure he’s close by. I wanted to try walking him on a leash but it didn’t go so well. One day he did ride around at the bottom of the baby stroller (in the house). That was pretty funny.

  32. Those videos were adorable! I had a dream of teaching my cat how to walk too. Thought since I got him as a kitten it should be easy…. my cat is too adventurous to be tied to a leash. Too much of a cat. I wonder how that guy got his cat to walk on a leash? That cat must be a dog in disguise!

    PS. My cat doesn’t try to wash my hair but cut/eat it. lol

  33. Love the article. We have two cats, one found 2 years ago under a bush. She is a calico and her name is Max a Million (we were not cat people, thought it was a boy) Eyes barely open feed every two hours with a bottle. A year later my stepdaughters aunt found three babies and yes we got another. She is all black but has white way deep inside and the vet said she is a reverse tabby. She was also bottle feed very small when found. Her name is Izzy Bear. We tried to put collars on but they fought and found ways to either try to choke themselves or they got them off. I try to bring it our every once in a while and they run and hide. Never thought we would be cat people but here we are and I can’t imagine m life without them.

  34. I just got my cat, Chloe. She’s the sweetest American Short Hair! I haven’t tried walking her yet, but I don’t think she would even enjoy it! After having her for a day, she took her collar off while I was at work. I keep trying to put it back on, but she just takes it off somehow. I think she gets it caught on part of my bed and then just pulls really hard to get it off….she sees it as more of a toy! However, my grandma had a cat that loved to go outside! She didn’t have a real leash for it, so she made one with a tether type rope thing that had a hook at one end of it that was used to make the leash without tying the tether rope thing. Her cat, Tommy, loved to go outside! He never went on “walks” but he loved the leash being put on him and then sitting on the porch and watching the animals. Once in a blue moon he would try to chase a bird, but that was only if he decided the bird was worth chasing! My grandma had Tommy for a while, and last I heard, he was still alive…she has had him my whole life and I’m 20 years old! I loved Tommy but I think I love my Chloe more!!!! She sounds similar to Kirsty…no sudden movements or else she gets scared…but yet she LOVES to cuddle! This whole week she has done nothing but curl up next to me at night and fall asleep. In fact, when I get home from work (I work until about midnight-one in the morning) she is waiting for me at the entrance to my room, then she meows and I tell her that its time to go “night night” and she jumps up in my bed as soon as I have found a comfortable position. She puts her head on my pillow next to mine, I cover her up, and put an arm around her, and she is fast asleep! She won’t sleep any other way! I don’t mind, though…she’s my baby ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. CHloe sounds like a really sweet cat. She might like a harness rather than a collar. The leash I have attaches to a harness, and so there is nothing around the cats neck. They seem to tolerate it better than a collar. Thanks for posting this comment.

  35. Love this post! I only recently came across the whole indoor-outdoor cat “debate” and the idea of cat walking. Where I live all the cats wander around outside (although we keep our cat indoors during the night). I can’t even get a collar to stay on our cat, let alone take her for a walk on a lead. So you’re doing pretty well!

  36. Aw, your cat is so cute!

    I agree with your post. I have my own cat, a 2 year old black Siamese mix and I wanted to teach him how to walk on a leash as well. Once he gets past the fact that he does have a harness on him (takes anywhere between a few hours/days of trying to get him to walk and not slink outside), he often goes where he wants to and just stops and lays there. I only managed to get him to some what walk once, but he kept wanting to go back where he came from (made it easy when we turned around though).

  37. I often joke to my friends who bring their dogs to things by saying, “I thought about bringing my cat, but that would have made me weird.” They always agree.

  38. This is the funniest thing I’ve seen! I’m seriously laughing out loud right now and called my husband in to see the video. You have inspired me to teach my cats to walk on a leash.

  39. I saw someone taking their cat for a walk just a couple of days ago and it did bring a smile to my face. I must admit that it’s a bit of a rarity in London and still has that nice air of eccentricity and kookyness that i like to see.

  40. Hi there,

    We get a lot of people phoning in to our rescue shelter asking for advice on training cats to walk on a harness and lead. It is a fantastic thing to do if you live in a flat with a communal garden and it isnt safe for the cat to go outside. A lot of people go into this with the thoughts that you describe, visions of themselves walking down the road with the cat happily trotting alongside with tail held high.

    The reality is not so much ‘cat walking’ but cats doing ‘human guiding’.

    I’m glad he enjoys it though and I am very pleased to see that you knew your cats well enough to not force your other cat to endure a walk.

    Helen.

  41. Oh, this was a dangerous post for work. I couldn’t contain my laughter at the unruly cat video.

    And btw, cats will kill you if they notice you trying to exert power over them…trust me, I’ve seen it.

  42. So cute! We’ve never walked a cat on a leash, but years ago we had two cats who would hike for miles with us. If we crossed a stream, we would just keep walking. They would be back there screaming, but they always managed to get across and catch up to us. They were great fun.

  43. Glad to see that there are other felines who take Them for a walk from time to time. I always have fun when I’m out with Her – too much fun, She thinks! I’m planning to tell everyone about it soon …

    AIJ

  44. Hi, your cat is beautiful and so active.

    We have one of a web development company. we are provide offshore software development, mobile application development and PHP development for more information please visit our website: http://triforce.co.in/.

  45. I’ve been trying to walk my two cats for a long time now! One of them also thinks she’s a dog, and is actually easy to walk… the other one gets startled at all movements and is very, very fussy. She won’t even use the litter box unless it is meticulously clean.

    Thanks for sharing these videos though! I think it’s time to try walking my scaredy cat again… Congratz on being FP-ed by the way!

    1. Thanks! I am really enjoying all the comments and stories about other cats. Your 2 sound like they have the same personality types as mine.

  46. We took in a homeless – not feral – cat. Becuase he had been living out of doors, we trained him to take ambles around our yard. They do amble as opposed to walk. Try a harness – puppy harnesses work well – to avoid the near stragulation issues. Loved the post!

  47. My cat Charlie is already working on world domination (so much evidence of it around my apartment) I’d be afraid to introduce him to the outside world by walking him. (he’s diabolical… adorable… but diabolical) but Oliver, my Maine Coone, would probably love it and be a great candidate for it.

    Unfortunately, I live in the city of Chicago so the sites and sounds would probably be a bit of an overload for him but what a fun idea. Thanks for sharing!

  48. I have been wanting to try walking my cat, Kai, on a leash. She is very skittish and I’m worried that she would slip out of a harness if she was startled by something! I have been searching for the right harness because she is on the small side and I want it to be snug yet comfortable!

    1. I got my harness at PetSmart– they had quite a few to choose from. I have the kind that you can adjust to fit. Good luck with the walking.

  49. Did you teach your cat to play dead all by its self or was it just to lazy to start walking with you again? ๐Ÿ˜› Hope you have lots of fun playing and walking with your cat!

  50. I had a friend who walked her cat…it worked great until he would get away from her. Then it was quite comical watching her trying to catch the leash end. She could never catch the cat.

    I have three cats and they are all wonderful. I started a blog recently to help find homes for the cats at the local animal control shelter. If you have a chance, check out my blog – a cat in a dog’s world. willowwrites.wordpress.com.

    enjoy your kitties…they’re fabulous and the videos were hilarious.

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