Thinking about taking your cat for walks? We’ve partnered with pet food brand ORIJEN to explain how to make it a reality.
Research has revealed that 1 in 5 UK cat owners are keen to take their cat out for walks. Whether that’s around their neighbourhood or heading out into the countryside together to explore some of the finest beauty spots in the country, owners are wanting to enjoy the benefits of a great form of exercise and creating brilliant memories together.
While taking cats for a walk is an increasing trend, it is not something to be done lightly. Before considering attaching a leash to your cat, you need to make sure you and your feline friend are totally prepared. That’s why we’ve teamed up with ORIJEN Premium cat food, who conducted the research, to find out how you need to prepare before heading out with your cat.
Cats are known for their independence so need to gradually adjust to wearing a harness. If you decide that leash walking is something you would like to try with your feline friend, be sure to dedicate the time to doing it properly. Build up each stage and remember that for some cats, harness wearing is just not for them. If that is the case, don’t force your cat to do it, there are loads of other great ways for you to spend time together!
If you are prepared to stay calm and put the training in, Katie Bowen, owner of adventurer cat, Orion, has put together these steps to build up to taking your cat out on a leash:
- Choose your equipment carefully. It is essential that you do your homework and purchase the correct equipment for your cat. It is not safe for cats to walk on a traditional collar and lead because, if they try to pull away, a breakaway collar will detach, while a standard collar could strangle them. Buy a good quality harness for your cat. There are many different types of harness on the market, which one works best for your cat will depend on the type of adventures you hope to take them on and your cat’s personality. I would advise starting with a simple H style harness as these are lightweight and easy to put on / take off.
- Place the harness or jacket on the floor and allow your cat to sniff and investigate it. Treat him for showing an interest in it. It is important for your cat to build up a positive association with the harness before attempting to put it on them.
- When your cat is happy and relaxed around the harness you can attempt to put it on them. It’s unlikely to be very easy the first time you try but try to make it as positive an experience as possible with lots of rewards. I found it easiest to distract Orion with a small amount of something very tasty in a bowl while I put the harness on the first few times. Once it is on continue to treat them.
- Let your cat walk around wearing the harness with no lead attached. Your cat may not want to move when you first put the harness on as it will feel strange to them. You can encourage them to start moving by throwing treats for them to run after or playing with their favourite toy. These things will also help to continue the positive association with the harness as something good happens when they are wearing it. Repeat this process several times over a few days, and gradually increase the amount of time your cat spends in the harness.
- Once your cat is accepting of the harness, the lead should be attached for short periods. Continue to reward your cat each time you put the harness and lead on. Your cat will not be used to having their movement restricted so it is best to simply follow them around while holding the lead or tempt them to go the way you would like with treats or a toy to keep the activity positive. Repeat this over several days until they are completely relaxed.
- Finally, it’s time to take your cat into the garden, to begin with it is best to stick to an area familiar to both you and your cat and it is important to continue rewarding your cat with their favourite treats. Allow them to wander and sniff and become used to being outside. Once your cat is confident and happy to be outside in their harness and lead you can start to think about adventures further afield.
- Before heading off on any adventures away from home it is important to consider what you will need to take with you. The most vital piece of equipment (other than a well-fitting harness and lead) is a suitable carrier for your cat. I find that rucksack style carriers are best for adventures and these come in many different forms, so you can choose one that suits your needs and the size of your cat.
- The carrier will be your cat’s safe space, somewhere they can go if they become scared or if there are potential dangers around such as dogs. For this reason it is important that they are happy to be in the carrier before you take them out with it, this is done in a similar way to harness training.
- Start by placing the carrier on the floor with all the zips open so they can investigate inside. You can encourage them to do so by placing treats in the carrier. It is important at this stage to let your cat take their time investigating the carrier and do not try to shut them in it just yet. I found that by leaving the carrier open in the living room all the time Orion decided to sleep in it of his own accord quite quickly.
The right nutrition
Having the right diet is important for all cats, but it’s particularly crucial if your cat is going to be a feline explorer! Here the experts at ORIJEN share their top tips for ensuring your cat gets the best nutrition:
- There are 41 essential nutrients that cats require for their bodies to function correctly. When cat foods are referred to as complete, it means they contain all these vital nutrients.
- All cats are descended from wild cats! They are hunters and their biological make-up is derived from their wild ancestors. Cats are what are known as obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat. Without it they can suffer serious health problems.
- Therefore, high-quality animal proteins are important for a quality diet for your feline friend. Many pet food brands will include low levels of protein or poor-quality meat. Instead they will pack their foods out with fillers or grains that offer nothing to feline nutrition, or will be high in unnecessary carbohydrates, despite the fact cats get their energy from proteins and fats. This is particularly important for kittens who need protein and calorie-rich foods to support their rapid growth!
- Cats need to consume meat that comes from a variety of animals, and includes muscle, bone, and organs, to provide cats with essential nutrients like phosphorus and calcium to build strong bones, and fatty acids to support their organs. Look for WholePrey™ ratios, which have meats, organs ,and cartilage in the quantities to mirror a cat’s natural diet.
Premium cat food company ORIJEN Cat & Kitten food contains 85 percent quality meat ingredients to provide richly nourishing protein from free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, and cage-free eggs, as well as 15 percent fruits and vegetables. The company’s philosophy is to mirror the quantity, freshness, and variety of meat that cats have evolved to eat.
Two-thirds of ORIJEN’s animal ingredients are fresh and raw, for a concentrated source of protein. Mimicking the diet your cat’s ancestors would have hunted and eaten in the wild, ORIJEN use the whole prey animal, including meat, organs, cartilage, and bone, so your cat is getting everything they need in order to stay happy, healthy, and strong.
All ORIJEN cat foods (except ORIJEN Fit & Trim Cat) are suitable for kittens. To find out more, visit www.orijenpetfoods.co.uk