With urban living on the ever-rising climb and the UK’s cat population increasing, it’s harder now for most cat owners to let their cats wander in the garden because they just don’t have the facilities. So, the solution? Cat leashes on and a stroll in the park, and there you go your cat’s happy it stretched its legs and wandered like the free cat it’s meant to be… well not according to a recent statement by the RSPCA.
Cats who are walked on a leash can become stressed and agitated as they “lose control” over themselves as you guide them. What we would have called an “enrichment” activity for our feline friends has proven to be doing more harm than good.
Even well know pet brands have created their own brand of cat leashes and other cat walking related products. Speciality companies such as, PetSafe UK and Pet Planet have started to stock a wide range of cat harnesses and leads also. Many believe that this increase in cat walking popularity has been dramatically increased due to social media. Instagram has become a platform for cat walkers, with people using the #catwalking tag more than 14,000 times, accompanied by photos of their cats walking though different places.
On top of the social media influx, you’ve got influential figures such as actress Marleen Maathius and Tim Van Cromcoirt who have recently ventured on a 3-day holiday walk to Snowdonia with their Maine Coon, Ash. They commented on their walk saying they “didn’t want him to miss out on the beauty of life” just because they lived an urban lifestyle. They said that they believed that cats curiously explorative and shouldn’t be cooped up just because of the busy London roads.
However, this form of thinking has proven to be quite the reverse, as the cats aren’t enjoying themselves but rather stressing as they lose their “sense of control.” Although they are both loving companions, cats are not like our canine companions, who adore their daily walks, as they are more territorial and can become very agitated if forced into an unknown environment.
A spokeswoman later added:
““A sense of control is very important to cats and being walked on a collar or harness prevents them from having control I t may be more difficult for them to be able to move away or hide from anything which might scare or worry them. Therefore the RSPCA wouldn’t recommend that cats are walked outside in this way.
Some loving owners who have cats that live indoors-only may feel that walking cats outside on a harness or collar is beneficial for their welfare. However, we would generally suggest that for most cats taking steps to provide an indoor environment which has plenty of opportunities to be active and mentally stimulated is likely to be more beneficial for the cat’s welfare than walking them on a lead.”
As much as any topic, the cat walking trend is controversial with some animal behaviourists saying that is really beneficial to cats that don’t usually have access to the outdoors. Laura Moss, founder of Adventure Cats stated:
“More people are leash training their cats. Taking a cat outside can be great for a cat’s mental and physical health.
“Many indoor cats simply don’t receive enough stimulation and they may suffer from obesity or boredom-related behavioral problems.”
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