I’ve been a lifelong cat lover but I’ve never been able to have a pet earlier due to the fact that we’re a small family that travels quite frequently. As many of you might know with frequent updates on instagram & of course my vlogs, we started fostering kittens in July last year. It seemed like a way to keep kittens at home (what could be bad about that?!) be a part of the animal rescue process without it being a very long term commitment. Fast forward a few months (with a lot happening in between), in December we ended up brining one of them home forever. And his name is Thelma (yes, he is a boy cat with a girl’s name. I’ll tell you guys the story of his name some other time).
So it’s a year since we first brought this scrawny little ball of fur home (he weighted around 500 gms when we first brought him home & weighs around 8 1/2 kgs right now!). I’ve been meaning to start doing cat related blog posts for a while, to just share what living in an apartment with a cat is like, how they behave, etc. There are a lot of misconceptions regarding cats (mostly negative ones, especially here in India) & I’m aiming to quash some of these things with my experiences. I am working on a long, detailed cat video for my YouTube channel soon (it’s long overdue, I know!) If you have any suggestions for topics you’d like me to cover, let me know.
I also just created an instagram account for my cat @ThelmaCatola where I’ll be sharing snippets from Thelma’s life as well as other cats we foster. If this is something that interests you, make sure you follow!
Now let’s get back on topic – today I’m going to talk about walking your cat on a leash – the why, how & more!
Many of you might be wondering why I’d want to walk my cat at all. “If you wanted to walk someone on a leash, you should have got a dog!” – I’ve really heard it all. Most indoor cats are perfectly happy spending their whole life indoors (I know there are indoor – outdoor cats too, but that is not a safe option in a crowded city, especially if you live in an apartment). We don’t walk our cat because we want to force dog behaviour on him or because it’s amusing. We walk him because despite being anti social towards all strangers & skittish in new surroundings, he truly loves the outdoors! It was a behaviour we noticed since he was quite young – he was always curious, sniffing, intently staring outside the window when his brother had no interest in it all. I finally decided to buy him a cat harness + leash. Even the biggest pet stores in Mumbai don’t stock much cat stuff, but luckily Amazon prevailed & I found the beautiful Trixie Cat Harness & Leash set. It is slightly pricier than generic versions, but the amount you pay is well worth it – it’s both aesthetically pleasing & robust, it’ll easily outlast all the others.
After I ordered the leash, I knew it would’n’t be a very easy task to get him used to it. So I watched this video by Howcast on leash training your cat; even though the basic order of the steps was helpful, it scared me (quite unnecessarily, I might add) because it said I might have to use the leash on my cat for up to a year indoors before I attempted to take him outside.
In reality, the steps were a lot simpler. When I first tried the leash / harness on Thelma, he behaved quite strangely (all captured on video here, thankfully) but it was all pretty much normal. The main challenge is getting the cat used to the feeling of the harness on his body. Even though I had buckled it quite loosely, he acted like it wasn’t letting him walk properly & kept falling down dramatically on his side. But I left it on pretty much continuously for a week & by the end he was quite comfortable with it. Then we started to put the leash on, of course all he wanted to do was grab & bite it. So we started taking a few steps inside the house, then some outside out main door by the elevators. Finally it was time to properly take him outside!
All of the photos in this post are from that first walk in January – there was some resistance & hiccups but generally it was quite a success! Here is a short video from the very same walk.
Thelma is wearing the Trixie Leash & Harness set (in purple) along with the Trixie Cat Collar with bell (black). Also that’s mom being the hand model. Can you tell how in love she is? I’ve definitely been replaced as the baby of the family!
While the collar does make him look handsome & the bell is a cute novelty, we ended up taking it out after a while because it didn’t have that much of use other than looks. We love the harness though – after six months it’s started to show the first signs of wear, & paranoid me has already stocked up on the second one just in case it isn’t available later!
Obviously walks outdoors is not for every house cat. I chat with a lot of fellow cat parents on snapchat (magalivaz) or instagram DM (@magali_c) & one girl told me she too has a similar harness + leash but her cat absolutely hates it & runs away at the sight of it. My cat runs towards us at the sight of his harness, excited for another walk in the garden. Every cat is not going to like it so it’s down to his / her nature, likes & temperament.
If you’re thinking of leash training you cat, I hope you found this useful. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below! x