In collaboration with Cat Educator, Intersand®’s cat experts would like to offer a few tips and tricks for new “parents” of cats, cat lovers and anyone who’s considering a feline addition to the family.
Spring is finally on our doorstep! But this long-awaited return of warm weather brings up questions among cat owners. At the top of the list, the age-old question: “Should I let my cat go outside? ”
Far from being innocuous, this decision can lead to serious consequences. In fact, allowing your cat to go out freely can clearly represent significant risks to his health and safety. On the other hand, having access to the courtyard is also an incredible source of stimulation.
What if it was possible to reconcile the safety of the cat and his pleasure to explore the garden?
That’s correct! Hiking on a leash is not unique to dogs. On the contrary! It is quite possible to teach a cat to walk on a leash with a harness. The key to success is to go step by step.
To avoid serious accidents, it is essential to choose the harness correctly, make sure it fits perfectly on your cat (you must be able to slide a finger between his body and the harness), to always supervise your cat when he wears a harness and to hold the leash in your hand at all times during his outings.
We start the training inside the house. Begin by showing the harness to your cat and let it sniff it. Introduce him to the harness and give him treats. The key here is making a positive association with the harness. Over the next few days, repeat this process several times by, for example, taking his treats but have him pass his head through the harness without strapping it on him. Once he is well desensitized to the harness, clip it well, while rewarding your cat generously. You can even grab a toy and play with your cat. Repeat this step a few times. Optionally, hang the leash at the end of the harness, treats in hand of course and use it in the house for 5 to 10 minutes sessions a few times a day.
The important thing is to respect your cat’s rhythm … and offer him a lot of treats! After all, the process must be enjoyable … for him and for you! Thus, you will gradually desensitize your cat to the harness and the leash.
When the time comes to go outside, carry your harnessed cat, ideally in his carrier, outside in a very quiet environment where there is no car or passerby. Over time, you can let him expand his exploration area. Only when your cat walks tall with his tail high and shows no sign of stress, you can consider taking it a little further. Always respect the rhythm of your cat. Never force him to go further if he seems stressed. It takes often longer at the beginning and each time we introduce them to something new. Whenever you know that he will see something he has ever seen before, reward him abundantly and you will see that in no time he will associate the outings with something very pleasant.
Here’s a tip: Always go outside with your cat in your arms / his carrier otherwise it might get use to go out whenever he wants to, even without a harness.
Finally, make sure you bring fresh water, especially if it’s hot outside.
Walking on a leash isn’t for every cats. Never mind! Why not build an outdoor enclosure specially designed for cats? These feline patios represent a perfect compromise combining safety and fun. You can do it yourself or ask professionals.
The design of the living environment inside the enclosure is a captivating activity for cat lovers! Remember to include places for rest or observation at height, tree stumps, areas of sun and shade as well as multiple toys. Make sure, however, that there is no possibility of escape and that the enclosure is not at ground level to avoid encounters with wild animals.
If none of these options is possible, then it is essential to enrich your house environment for your cat to compensate for its potential boredom. A cat in captivity must have access to a good cat tree, a suitable scratching post, interactive bowls, windows to look outside, many hiding places, etc. Active play sessions are also a must every day. In short, there are many ways to satisfy your favorite feline needs in a safe environment.
No matter which solution you choose, it is important to regularly make an appointment with your veterinarian so that your cat can receive the appropriate cares to his living conditions. This will bring you peace of mind and let you enjoy happy moments with your protege … whether your cat joins you on outdoor adventures or stays comfortable in your home!