Is taking a cat for a walk, on a leash, a totally ridiculous idea?

My family has a very active cat. She loves running around the house, whether I’m chasing her or whether I’m leading her around with a toy or a laser pointer. She also loves to go outside, but she’s an indoor cat, so she has to be brought back into the house whenever she gets out.

With that said, in the pure hypothetical (because I live at college and hardly get to see her anyway), how ridiculous would it be to take her for a walk? Beyond simply the question of how much of a junior cat lady I would look like leading her around the neighborhood, would she benefit from or enjoy this at all? I have seen some sites advocating leash training cats, but I’m not sure how far on the fringe they are.

I don’t have a cat, but I imagine most cats would rather explore on their own than to follow a ‘pack leader’ like a dog would.

Having said that, I’ve seen people walking cats on leashes, and the cats were very well-behaved.

We did it all the time with our first cat. We lived in an apartment complex and were worried she’d get run over in the parking lot, so we bought a leash and took her for walks in the evening. She didn’t like putting on the collar at first, but after a while she’d trot over when we got it out and bend her head down while we strapped it on.

We got some funny looks and comments but didn’t care a whit.

Now she’s 13, has been allowed outside unaccompanied for many years, and I imagine if I tried to put a collar on her she’d probably claw my face off and then piss all over the bleeding wounds.

I’ve taken my Himalayan, Marco, out for an airing on a leash (NOTE: Please attach leash to a HARNESS, please please please do not attach a leash to a cat’s collar). He trots down the driveway, hangs a left, and we go about 100 feet before he gets distracted, scared, or just comes to a dead stop. He wants to go under cars, explore other peoples front steps, and check out the wildlife under shrubs and bushes. So, if you don’t mind standing there for a long time, are prepared to scoop him up when someone or something scary comes along, and don’t try to hurry him along - well, give it a try. He might be a good walker. Otherwise, ‘taking the cat for a walk’ turns into ‘taking the cat for a drag’, and that’s just plain cruel…We let Marco walk around in our fenced in back yard, wearing his harness and matching bright red leash (so we can spot him if he hides under a bush or in tall grass). He sits quietly watching for moles and mice, pouncing on bugs, and trying to squeeze under the deck. But this is in the summer, he likes snow and cold about as much as I do! (and he gets vet-medicine vials of flea treatment from the first warm day out until the ground freezes in the fall.)

You don’t walk a cat on a leash, you let it wander, and occasionally firmly redirect it. Ours have their own harnesses and leashes, and while it does get them out a bit when they’re desperate to, it’d be a stretch to say we took “a walk.”

Nope, but taking the cat for a walk in the snow IS a totally ridiculous idea.

Sadly, neither my father or the cat would listen to sense yesterday.

Tommy was rescued semi-wild from our neighbourhood, and was used to being outside all the time. He wailed almost constantly when he was kept indoors. I suggested trying a harness and leash, although I did think it was ridiculous. It was that or rehoming the cat. He took to it immediately, and now bats at where his leash is hanging when he wants to go out. Of course, he’d rather be out on his own, and does escape sometimes, but this seems to be a suitable alternative as far as he’s concerned.

It isn’t so much a case of “walking the cat” in the sense you’d walk with a dog trotting happily beside you. You pretty much follow the cat, at least in Tommy’s case.

You can put a cat in a harness, and attach a leash to that harness. You can take the cat outside, and let it roam about for a bit. However, the cat is NEVER going to learn to heel. And you will look at least slightly ridiculous, IMO. But if you and the cat enjoy it, have at it. I routinely see odder things every day.

That is an awesome, awesome photo.

Thanks for all your responses everyone!

I tried, before, because my cat is like the OP’s cat, but it never went well. Whenever I let her out on her own (we’d stay in front of the apartment, and I was already ready to pounce on her if she ran out into the street) she was fine, but whenever I took her out on a leash she’d freak out and tried to smoosh herself into the ground as she slunk back towards the door. Stupid cat.

In Chicago I’ve seen people with cats on leashes but these leashes go attached to a harness.

No one really walks a cat, they generally take it to the park and attach the harness to a very long leash, like 30" or 50" and then they usually sit under a tree and let the cat wonder around.

The cat that way can be reeled in.

When I was younger none of the neighborhood cats had leashes, except one neighbor who had a declawed cat that stayed indoors, so when she brought it out she’d put it on a leash, and that makes sense. 'Cause we had quite a few cats in the neighborhood and each had their territory and claws to defend it.

We tried, but our cat hates being outside. Ah well.

People make fun of us, and you’re free to also, but our cat has a pet stroller, and he loves it. We tried the harness and leash thing when we first got him, and he wouldn’t do it. He’d get scared, get really low to the ground, and refuse to move. With the stroller, he is happy for the whole ride (admittedly short – usually just down the block and back), looking around, smelling the fresh air, etc. He’s a totally indoor cat (declawed, from before we adopted him), so this is really his only chance to experience the great outdoors, and it makes him feel safe while doing it. He’ll actually hop into the stroller on his own to ask for a ride.

Go ahead. Laugh. I know you want to.

I’m not laughing, I would LOVE to get a pet stroller for Marco. I know he’d love it, too. I could take him for a stroll on a nice warm moonlit night. And I’d definitely have the prettiest baby, duh, on the block.

See I’d never trust a cat to a stoller. I don’t trust any cat enough not to hop out. Granted your cat may be frightened at first at going out, but I think he’d get more and more used to it.

Now if he’s on a leash AND in the stroller I could see it.

One of the days the cats gonna think “You know what, I can leap out of this thing” and then he/she would be hard to catch

Want to look really stupid try to get a cat out from under a parked car, they know exactly where to sit so no one can reach them.

Click on the link. It’s a stroller designed specifically for pets. It’s totally enclosed. No way to get out without us unzipping it.

My father definitely NEVER needs to learn of that stroller!

Besides, Tommy would have one of the panels clawed out in minutes.

Missed the edit - I had a friend who had two cats and when she took them somewhere in the car (to, say, go visit her mother who wanted to see her ‘grandcats’) they would trot right behind her side by side and jump in the backseat. It was the funniest thing to see them exit the car and follow her like little dogs, through the lobby, into the elevator, down the hall, and into her apartment. Very unusual!

One more cat story - when I used to take the dog for a walk, my cat would follow us for blocks (this was loooong ago). If I stopped to visit my cousin, our cat would ‘knock’ on her door, wondering what the dog and I were doing in a strange house. In the winter, the cat couldn’t keep up with us in the snow and would meow pitifully so I’d have to walk back, pick him up, and carry him around the block.

I once had a 27-pound cat, and decided to start taking him out for walks. I got a leash and harness, put them on him, and carried him out to the sidewalk. Then I started to pull. He dug his claws into the pavement, resulting in scratch lines all down the sidewalk. The cat absolutely refused to take one step. But it was good exercise for me.

If you do get a harness, make sure you test it thoroughly first. I bought a harness for my cat and tried it out on him indoors first. He was out of that thing in a flash. I tried several times more, tightening the thing past where it should have been tightened, and each time he was able to pull a Houdini and escape. He was very freaked out by the whole thing. (This is also the cat who was able to unzip his cat carrier from the inside, so I had to buy a big clunky plastic carrier with a metal latch.)

  1. Cats are spooked by dogs, cars, noises, air. They can bolt.
  2. Cats are really good at getting out of harnesses.

If you’re going to take an indoor cat out, start at the open door and stay near it a few times. Walk it in the yard or close by, at a non-noisy time, and be sure it has a collar and tag for when it squirms out of the harness and runs off.