What are the safest places to take my cat out on a walk?

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You should absolutely leash-train your cat indoors before you venture outside. She needs to get used to the feel and touch of both the harness and leash and you need to be sure your cat is well-trained to walk beside you. This could take anywhere from a few weeks to a little over a month. Some cats catch on faster than others—and some, frankly, just don’t like it.

Once you’re ready to go outside, start with something small, like your yard or some other small, quiet place. Taking her out in the early morning or sometime in the evening is preferable, because she may be more willing to go if there’s no one else around. Try to keep the distractions to a minimum, with few or no people or animals. Remember, cats can be territorial and they can get spooked easily.

Gradually increase your time outside and let her get used to the smells and sounds. Soon you can venture out for longer periods and you can go a little farther, like the park. Eventually you’ll be walking greater distances.

Note: Be prepared for your cat to forget everything it’s learned once you actually try walking outside with the leash. Everything will be different and your cat will be distracted by various sights, sounds and smells. Even if you’ve got your cat walking alongside you indoors without actually carrying the treat, you may have to use the treat outside the first few times. But hopefully your cat will eventually realize that if she follows along with you, she’ll get good things, and she’ll start to remember what you’ve already taught her.

One caveat: If your cat doesn’t like to walk on a leash, don’t let her roam free. You might think you’re doing something nice by letting her experience fresh air, sunshine and trees. The world, however, is a dangerous place and she can contract serious and even fatal diseases, experience harm from other people, animals or traffic or be “cat napped.”

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