Q & A: Outdoor activities for cats

Q: We would like to take our cat with us on outings, but what kind of outdoor activities can my cat accompany us on?

A: This very much depends on your cat’s personality and the extent of training and socialisation that you’ve achieved with her. A cat who is ill-prepared for the world outside her home is going to struggle to cope, or possibly even panic, if taken away from the environment she is used to.

Before embarking on any adventures with your cat, I would highly recommend consulting with a qualified cat behaviourist who can assess your cat’s readiness to enjoy outdoor activities.

Leash-training is essential, as is a high rate of responsiveness – meaning that your cat responds to cues from you quickly and easily. Your cat will require the experience and confidence to cope with whatever she may encounter outdoors.

Don’t just throw a harness on your cat and leash her up for a walk in the hills. This could go horribly wrong, so make sure you have the go-ahead from a reputable behaviourist as well as your vet before leaving home.

The same activities aren’t available for cats that are available for dogs, so what you choose to do with your cat is largely up to the two of you!

Find out what your cat enjoys: does she prefer a quiet walk around the neighbourhood, or a stroll on the beach? If you have a particularly active cat, ask your local dog trainers if you could make use of their agility equipment when no dogs are present (it wouldn’t be fair on the dogs) for some training fun!

Katherine Brown, behaviourist

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