Ginger cat Kimovich looks out a window

Walking a cat

Many owners are looking into buying a cat harness and lead so they can take their cat for a walk. But how do cats really feel about this?

Can you take your cat for a walk?

Most cats don’t enjoy being restrained, especially over a longer period of time. Because of this and other reasons listed below, we would advise that you don't walk your cat. However, some cats will tolerate a harness if introduced slowly, usually when they are young.

If you do want to walk your cat on a harness, please bear in mind all of the below, and opt for a safe, quiet area away from busy roads and dogs running free.

Five reasons not to walk your cat

1. Naturally cautious

Cats are cautious as a species and need to explore the outside at a pace that feels right and safe for them. They need to feel like they can hide, run away or avoid potential threats at the drop of a hat.

While dogs enjoy exploring places with their family, cats prefer to do this alone and from a place of safety. A harness and lead will prevent this from happening and they are likely to panic when scared.

2. Territorial

Cats view their territory as their place of safety. They are naturally very attached to their home and need to feel they can have access to this at all times. Being taken on a lead takes them into new territory and prevents them from being able to access their own space. This is different to dogs who tend to view their owners as their place of safety.

3. Flight risk

If the lead is dropped or they escape their harness it is unlikely they will return to you, especially when they are scared. Cats are more likely to bolt in an attempt to get to a place of safety and will be at risk from cars on the road as well as other threats.

4. Dogs and cats

Remember that many dogs have a high chase drive and, if they see a cat, may try to run after them. Being on a lead or harness makes your cat vulnerable to all sorts of dangers like this that they would naturally avoid.

5. Privacy

Cats toilet in private and in carefully chosen locations – being on a harness will prevent them from being able to toilet if they need to go.

How to exercise an indoor cat

There are plenty of other, safer ways you can exercise your cat.

If you have an indoor cat then read our advice on how to keep them entertained.

Indoor cats

Letting your cat outside

We know letting your cat out for the first time on their own can be scary. If you haven't yet let your cat explore the outdoors, we have some great advice on how to do this safely so that you can feel confident when they're flying solo.

How to

— Page last updated 31/01/2023