How to get my cat used to walks

d3szczowo

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Hi everyone,

I'm looking for some advice on getting my cat more comfortable with walks. She's already used to wearing a harness and walking on a leash, and she seems to enjoy our outdoor adventures whenever we're garden. Today I've tried going on a real walk with her. I carried her in a special backpack and let her out when we've reached the forest. She walked around and seemed curious, until someone passed by, whether it was a walker, a cyclist, or someone with a dog. As soon as she saw or heard someone, she got really scared and tried to bolt or hide.
I have tried reassuring her by picking her up, or letting her back into her backpack to feel safer, but even when the person was gone she still seemed very cautious and timid. By the time around 5 people passed by us, she was already discouraged from walking any longer.
Should I give her some time, and try taking her on a walk several more times so she can get used to walkers and cyclists? Any tips or strategies would be greatly appreciated!
 

Kris107

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Personally, I don't believe every cat is an "adventure" cat. Some cat personalities will never make them okay with outings. I think some cats have a bolder personality and they begin outings as a kitten.
 

FeebysOwner

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Hi! I agree with the above assessment. It sounds to me like you could ruin her wanting to be outside at all if you continue to expose her to something she really is uncomfortable with. If it were me, I'd give up this endeavor and stick with the garden where she is comfortable and can actually enjoy the outside. There are tons of cats who never go outside their home and I don't think they are 'missing' anything in terms of enrichment.
 

BoaztheAdventureCat

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Hi everyone,

I'm looking for some advice on getting my cat more comfortable with walks. She's already used to wearing a harness and walking on a leash, and she seems to enjoy our outdoor adventures whenever we're garden. Today I've tried going on a real walk with her. I carried her in a special backpack and let her out when we've reached the forest. She walked around and seemed curious, until someone passed by, whether it was a walker, a cyclist, or someone with a dog. As soon as she saw or heard someone, she got really scared and tried to bolt or hide.
I have tried reassuring her by picking her up, or letting her back into her backpack to feel safer, but even when the person was gone she still seemed very cautious and timid. By the time around 5 people passed by us, she was already discouraged from walking any longer.
Should I give her some time, and try taking her on a walk several more times so she can get used to walkers and cyclists? Any tips or strategies would be greatly appreciated!
Some cats are more brave than others, but in general, this is one reason why, as much as I love my cat, my cat and I don't get along as well as I do with dogs. I don't get mad at him, but it is frustrating that it is what it is. Dogs travel in packs all over the place to work together to hunt and take down prey animals much larger than themselves. Thus, the idea of traveling far away from home with their human family members comes very naturally to dogs. It brings them great joy to know that they're going out and having a good time with their beloved masters, working together to survive.

Cats do not travel in groups, let alone travel far from home pretty much EVER. I'm not a huge expert on cat behavior, but from what I've read and observed thus far, a cat would likely only desert his territory and travel far from home in an EXTREME situation, such as the place is in drought and there are no prey animals in sight after several days.

Basically, the cat thinks, "I have everything I need right here in my patch of territory- food, water, a safe place to sleep, and a place to relieve myself. Why would I want to go anywhere else where I don't know the area and who or what could get me?"

Makes sense in their natural outdoor environment, right? Cats don't depend on anyone except themselves for their survival, which, unfortunately, causes real problems when they live with humans. Because cats find security in being in complete control of their well-being and environment, they resent and fear being subjected to changes in their environment. Even in a home with humans, cats never lose the mentality of depending only on themselves for survival.

All that being said, it is possible to get cats used to traveling away from home, but remember, you're working against their genetics, which means that it will take a lot of time, effort, and patience, which are things that a lot of us can't spare a lot of. Whatever you want your cat to be good at, you have to do it with him often.

 

egofailure

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Hi there!

It's great to hear that you're taking steps to get your cat comfortable with walks. With enough time and consistency, a cat can indeed be conditioned to walk and travel just about everywhere. However, your cat's biology and early experiences set the starting point. Just because it's possible to get your cat comfortable with hiking to the park or going for long walks, doesn't mean it will be without challenges or risks.

My cat, Sasha, has been going on walks for about 8 weeks now. Thanks to prior clicker training and her natural curiosity for the outdoors, she got used to the harness quickly. Nature itself acts as a primary reinforcer for her, so I didn't need to condition the outdoors as a reinforcer.

That said, Sasha is extremely territorial and frightened of other people. This fear interferes with her inclination to explore. She mainly chooses to patrol the yard, checking the spots where she sees chipmunks. If anything enters the yard—say, a bunny—she's ready to pounce. However, if she's feeling adventurous enough to walk the sidewalk and explore new terrain, as soon as a person comes by, she pulls me to retreat back to our door.

Sasha has gotten out of her harness on three occasions (it's been a learning process!). Once, she immediately retreated to the door. The other two times, I calmly called her, and she came to me and let me scoop her up. If we were in an unfamiliar park or further away from home, this might not have ended as positively.

I encourage you to work with your cat's strengths and be gradual in your approach. With cats, consistency and slow, steady progress towards a goal is always the way to go when possible.
 

Spookyandsammy

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I use a stroller I haven’t tried it yet but mazie thinks she can dart out the door and scare me so we’re gonna try the stroller today
 

BeccaCat

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My Grandpa had a cat that loved going on his leash and walking around everywhere just like a dog.

Then I worked at a vet that had a resident cat who seemed so bored all the time. And chubby! Snuggles. I’d pet him and play with him, but I thought “maybe he’d like walking a bit to get out of this kennel”. I put him on a harness and a leash and I kid you not, Snuggles dug in his little feet and REFUSED to move. I tried a few times but then figured maybe Snuggles was content just being an indoor boy. All kitties are different 💗
I have 2 cats. Tessa is tiny and any time she sees her carrier she jumps right in like “wherever you’re going mom, I’m coming too!” And Smudge sees his carrier and we’re off to the races! He will do anything to make it difficult for me to get him in his carrier. Even flatten himself as flat as he can, which is hysterical because he’s 16 pounds and I believe he thinks “she’ll never see me now” 😂 but he’s so big it never works.
 

Spookyandsammy

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update Dottie mae loves walks and exploring the backyard and loves to hide and scare me to death
 
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