Cats and Leashes – Should You Walk Your Cat?

Does your feline friend often scratch or meow at the door? Does she spend hours at the window, watching birds and squirrels? If so, your furry friend may enjoy being walked on a leash. While we normally associate leashes and walks with our canine pals, some of our feline buddies also enjoy a nice stroll. But should you walk your cat? Read on for some tips from a local veterinarian.

Why Walk A Cat?

Kitties are much safer indoors. If Fluffy is allowed to roam freely outdoors, she faces many risks: cars, predators, toxins, weather, and other dangers. Walking your furball on a leash will allow her to get a taste of outside life without exposing her to these hazards. Walking is also great exercise for your furball.


Our adorable feline friends all have their own unique personalities. Some kitties are bold and friendly, while others are more timid. Consider your cat’s temperament before attempting to walk her. Shy, anxious cats, and those who don’t like being handled, may become very frightened outside. Cats that were once outdoor kitties, and those brave furballs who fear nothing, may really enjoy going for walks.


While leashes do work for some cats, you may find your furball more accepting of a harness. You’ll want to be sure the leash snaps on at the back, rather than at Fluffy’s neck. You’ll want to train your kitty indoors before taking her outside. Start by getting her used to the harness. Let her sniff it and play with it, and give her lots of treats and cuddles, so she forms a good association with it. Then, let her wear it indoors. It may take a bit of time for her to accept this strange new piece of gear, but be patient. When she is used to the harness, attach the leash, and let her drag it around. Make sure to closely supervise your furball whenever she is wearing her harness and leash! If your cat has mobility challenges but still needs exercise, consider reading “Give Your Mobility-Challenged Cat Some Exercise” for more tailored tips.


Fluffy’s safety should always come first and foremost. Always carry your kitty outdoors, and only put her down in safe areas. Never leave your kitty tied to a tree or post. You might also want to avoid walking near trees, at least at first, just in case Fluffy decides to go for a climb.

Our Advice on Cats and Leashes in 2024

What are the benefits of walking a cat on a leash?

Walking a cat on a leash provides significant benefits, including safety and exercise. It allows cats to explore the outdoors while minimizing risks associated with free roaming, such as cars, predators, and toxins. This controlled exposure to the outside world can enhance a cat’s mental stimulation and physical health. Additionally, leash walking serves as a bonding activity between cats and their owners, fostering a deeper connection. For continuous support in maintaining your cat’s health and to ensure they receive the best preventive care, consider our “Vet Preventive Care” services. Contact us, your local animal clinic in St. Lucie County, FL!

What are the risks of letting a cat roam freely outdoors?

Letting a cat roam freely outdoors exposes them to several risks, including traffic accidents, encounters with predators, exposure to toxins, and adverse weather conditions. Additionally, outdoor cats face the danger of contracting diseases from other animals and the risk of getting lost. These hazards can significantly threaten a cat’s health and longevity. Supervised outdoor activities, such as leash walking, can offer a safer alternative, allowing cats to enjoy the outdoors while minimizing these risks. Prioritizing indoor safety or controlled outdoor exposure is crucial for their well-being.

What are some signs that a cat is ready to try walking outdoors?

Signs a cat may be ready to try walking outdoors include showing a keen interest in the outside by frequently watching through windows or scratching at the door. Additionally, a cat that demonstrates curiosity and boldness, rather than fear or anxiety, when introduced to new situations or environments may be more receptive to outdoor walks. Successfully acclimating to a harness and leash indoors without signs of stress is another indicator of readiness. Observing your cat’s temperament and comfort with the harness can guide you in deciding if they are prepared for outdoor adventures.

What if your cat refuses to move while on the leash?

If your cat refuses to move while on the leash, it’s essential to remain patient and avoid forcing movement, as this can lead to stress or fear. Instead, encourage your cat with positive reinforcement, such as treats or gentle coaxing, to create a positive association with the leash and harness. Sometimes, simply allowing your cat to sit and observe their surroundings can gradually build their confidence. Always start with short, positive experiences and gradually increase the duration as your cat becomes more comfortable and curious about exploring outdoors.

What should you do if your cat gets scared and tries to run away?

If your cat gets scared and tries to run away while on a leash, immediately ensure their safety by holding the leash securely without pulling them back forcefully, as this can cause panic or injury. Speak to them in a calm, soothing tone to help ease their anxiety. Gently pick them up, if possible, and carry them to a safe, familiar environment. It’s crucial to avoid exposing them to the same frightening situation again. Gradually reintroduce outdoor experiences in a more controlled, quiet setting, always prioritizing their comfort and readiness.

Contact us, your local animal clinic in St. Lucie County, FL!

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