by Sam Mazzotta
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: The other day I watched a neighbor walking her cat on a leash. I was unaware that cats could even stand a leash, much less that they need to have one to go outside. What’s the deal with cat leashes?
- Bill R., Cleveland
DEAR BILL: Cat leashes aren’t as new or unusual as you think — they’ve been available at local pet stores for more than a decade now, and the idea of taking one’s cat outside on a leash is continuing to catch on, for a simple reason: owners want to keep their cats safe.
The leash is one sign in a trend of heightened awareness among cat owners, that letting their cats run around the neighborhood unfettered is detrimental to almost everyone involved – the neighbors, the owner and the cat itself, which is at risk from cars, wildlife and manmade or natural poisons. Local laws around the country also are increasing penalties for cats that run loose.
Increasingly, cat owners are deciding to make their cat an indoor cat, where the pet stays inside. But not all cats are happy being inside all the time; and many owners still want their pets to experience the outdoors.
Cat leashes differ from dog leashes – they’re much lighter, as is the harness used to attach the leash. (Leashes should never be attached to the cat’s collar.) The leash should be no longer than 6 feet, as cats do not follow verbal commands the way that dogs do, and tend to leap under bushes or toward the street, necessitating a gentle tug back onto the sidewalk.
While this trend may seem a bit strange to some, “walking the cat” will likely become a very common sight.
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