Going on a walk with a cat is an activity that only continues to grow in popularity. It may seem odd at first, but taking your cat for a walk on a harness and leash is an excellent way to provide them with exercise and enrichment while also keeping them safe.
Of course, walking a cat on a leash requires training, patience, and effort, but it is well worth it! You don’t even have to take them far to give them the excitement of exploring outdoors. There are many places you can take your cat that are nearby and literally in your own backyard…
6 Places to Stop When Walking With Your Cat
You may be scratching your head and wondering, “Where in the world can I walk with a cat?” Or maybe you’re thinking you could just go on a cat walk the same way and to the same places you’d go on a dog walk. While that’s partly true – you CAN take your cat to many of the same places you’d take a dog – you shouldn’t hit the pet store or a busy park if you and your cat are at the beginning of your harness and leash training journey.
You need to start off by going places that are quiet and distraction-free, like your own backyard!
It may seem anti-climactic to explore in your backyard, but the truth is there is a lot to see and smell back there! Especially if your cat is new to walking on a leash and being outside. It’s quiet, there’s grass to roll in and sniff (and maybe eat), there’s wildlife to watch, and there’s the sunshine to enjoy.
The most important thing to remember when harness and leash training your cat is to take things slow. Going from practicing with the harness and leash inside to going outside can be overwhelming, so starting with the backyard is the best next step you can take. You don’t even have to get in the car to get there, which is a huge plus!
Tips for exploring your backyard:
- Stay close to the door at first so you and your cat can easily retreat back inside if they get overwhelmed.
- Bring lots of treats!
- Bring your cat’s favorite wand toy outside to try and entice them to play.
- Lay down a blanket so you and your cat can just sit and relax and enjoy your surroundings together.
If you live in an apartment or don’t have a backyard, any quiet area near your home or outside your building will work too. Even the hallway of an apartment complex can be exciting to explore.
This one may seem like an odd and slightly creepy destination at first, but hear us out. Cemeteries are quiet. There’s hardly ever anyone else there. There’s usually a combination of both paved and grassy areas to explore and plenty of flowers to sniff (even if they are fake). Cemeteries are also often beautifully manicured, and if you find a historical cemetery to visit, you and your cat can enjoy a history lesson together.
For all of the above-mentioned reasons, cemeteries are a great next step from your backyard.
Tips for visiting cemeteries:
- Confirm that it’s pet-friendly. Some cemeteries might not allow pets on the grounds.
- Bring treats!
- Bring your cat backpack carrier so your cat has somewhere to retreat to if they get nervous.
- Try to find a larger cemetery so you can go further back into it to avoid street and traffic noise.
Local Parks & Hiking Trails
Local parks and hiking trails can be a fun place to walk with a cat – lots to see and smell and climb on. Maybe you can even find a creek or river to check out.
That being said, you have to be careful about which ones you go to and what times you go. Parks and hiking trails are popular destinations for people and dogs too, so if you try taking your cat on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, chances are it’s going to be too busy and stressful.
Tips for visiting parks and hiking trails:
- Pick ones that are secluded and typically have low traffic.
- Check the leash laws – you want to make sure wherever you go requires pets to be on a leash. While there are sometimes people who don’t follow the rules and let their dog roam off-leash, you still want to go places that have the rules in place.
- If you’re visiting a place that is popular, try going on an off-time to avoid the crowds – like a weekday during the day.
- Bring lots of treats and your cat’s backpack carrier.
- Pack plenty of water for both you and your cat.
The coolest thing about visiting schools is the playground! There are so many cool things to climb around on, your cat will be entertained for a while! Some schools have cross-country trails or other walking trails you can go on too. Lots of options for exploration and discovery for the walking cat! Plus, they’re usually pretty quiet on weekends, so you don’t have to worry about running into off-leash dogs or other people too much.
Tips for visiting schools:
- Visit on a weekend or school holiday when no one is there.
- Make sure you visit a public school and not a private one.
- Bring plenty of treats, water, and of course your cat’s backpack carrier.
Hitting up your local pet store probably seems like a fun way to spend the afternoon, and it certainly can be. There are toys and treats to pick out, cat trees to climb on, and birds, hamsters, and fish to watch!
They are also great places to work on your cat’s socialization skills. Most pet store workers and patrons will be excited to see a cat visitor, so you can take the opportunity to try introducing your cat to new people. However, if your cat is newer to walking on a leash or is spooked by noises, crowds, and/or dogs, visiting a pet store can be a little too much.
Tips for visiting pet stores:
- Visit at an off-time to avoid crowds and dogs – like during the day on a weekday.
- Definitely take your cat’s backpack carrier or stroller so they have a safe space to hang out in.
- Bring treats so you can use them to introduce your cat to new friends.
Like pet stores, restaurants and breweries can be a great way to work on your cat’s socialization skills or on getting them comfortable with busier situations. Some even provide extras for pets like water bowls or special treats.
However, also like with pet stores, the hustle and bustle may be a little much for some cats. You definitely need to assess your cat’s individual personality and comfort level to decide if visiting a restaurant or brewery is something they’d be comfortable with.
Tips for visiting restaurants/breweries:
- Call ahead and confirm they allow cats. Even if a place is listed as “pet-friendly,” that sometimes really only means “dog-friendly.”
- Visit during a slower time of day, such as an early lunch or between lunch and dinner.
- Bring treats and your cat’s backpack carrier or stroller.
If you have a beach nearby, either at an ocean or lake, it just might become your cat’s new favorite place! Many cats really love digging and rolling in the sand. Some enjoy the breeziness as well, bringing in the smells off the water.
However, the sound of the waves can sometimes be scary, and if it’s too windy, your cat might not be a fan.
Tips for visiting the beach:
- Make sure you check the rules on pets! Many beaches don’t allow pets at all, and some allow pets only during certain hours of the day.
- Pick a day with nice weather – sunny, but not too hot or windy.
- Visit at an off-time to avoid crowds.
- Bring an umbrella, towel, plenty of water and treats, and your cat’s carrier.
Benefits of Walking With Your Cat
As mentioned, there are several reasons why leash training your cat and taking them for a walk is beneficial for them:
Indoor cats tend to get bored sometimes, and many suffer from obesity. Going on a walk with your cat gives them exercise, helping them to stay in shape and maybe even shed a few pounds. It’s good exercise for us humans too!
There is a common misconception that cats don’t require a lot of stimulation and enrichment. They just lay around and sleep all day, right? Wrong! Just like dogs, cats require both mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom, destructive behaviors, and depression. Taking your cat for walks is a great way to combat all those things!
It’s no secret that the more quality time you spend with your cat, the stronger your bond and relationship becomes. Harness and leash training your cat and taking them for walks will definitely help to deepen the trust between you, strengthening your relationship more than ever.
Keeps Them Safe
Some would argue that cats can just be let outside to roam free, so why would you need to walk them on a leash? The truth is that there are many dangers outside, such as predators, cars, poisons, humans, etc. Going on a walk with a cat on a leash gives them the opportunity to explore outside in a safe and controlled way.
While taking your cat for walks has many benefits for the both of you, and there are many fun places to visit and explore, please realize this activity isn’t for every cat. Some cats might not enjoy exploring outdoors and may never accept wearing a harness. That’s perfectly okay!
There are many other activities you and your cat can bond over, and there are many other things you can do to provide your cat with the exercise and enrichment they need.
Does your cat enjoy going out on a harness and leash? What are their favorite places to visit?
About the Author: Emily is “mom” to seven cats, one dog, and two sugar gliders. She has been writing in the pet industry for over 8 years, with a focus on cats, rescue, and adventuring. When she isn’t writing, playing music, crocheting, or working on her own entrepreneurial pursuits, Emily and her husband enjoy hiking, road-tripping, camping, and canoeing with their three cat adventurers. Follow her on her blog, KittyCatGo.