Tuesday, February 9, 2010
No doubt about it, indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats. But if you're feeling a tad guilty about keeping your kitty inside 24/7, this safe compromise will get both of you out and about for a breath of fresh air -- and adventure.
That's right: Teach your cat to walk while wearing a harness and leash. True, not every cat will cooperate with such an endeavor, but some will -- especially if you combine lots of patience, diligence, and kitty treats with the following step-by-step strategies:
Skip the collar and buy a more escape-proof harness and leash.
Leave the harness and leash around the house for a few days so your cat can get used to them.
Get your cat accustomed to wearing the harness inside, without the leash, for short periods.
Practice walking your cat with the harness and leash indoors for a couple of days so you both get the hang of it.
Venture outdoors. But keep your first few excursions close to home, perhaps on a patio or driveway or in a quiet, fenced backyard.
Remember to provide kitty treats and praise after each of the above steps.
A few more things to keep in mind:
Be nice and gentle. Never drag or jerk on the leash, and don't yell at your cat if he doesn't cooperate.
Play it safe. Avoid potentially dangerous or startling situations, such as busy streets, other animals, antifreeze spills, and chemically-treated lawns. And never tie your cat to a tree or a post.
Go slowly, letting your cat set the pace. He's not a dog, so don't expect him to walk like one.
If your cat is extremely fearful or panics at any step in this process, scratch the idea entirely, and consider this outdoor alternative instead.