Walking Your Cat in the UK

 You wouldn’t believe from our Instagram page that Moss is an indoor cat but she’s never been outside on her own. We have always had concerns about the risks surrounding busy roads, animal fights, theft etc. as the town is always scattered with ‘lost cat’ posters. However, this does not mean that having outdoor cats (or strictly indoor cats) is wrong! We also know people who only walk their cats on leads in their gardens and we are aware of the sometimes negative perception that walking your cat, in public, on a lead can have.

 Through getting to know the Instagram cat community, we have discovered that we aren’t the only ones who have decided to walk our cat on a harness and lead. We have made connections with people worldwide and love seeing everyone’s adventures! We had never seen anyone else walking a cat in person until earlier this year where we met another couple on one of our evening walks, we found it really exciting to see other people doing the same thing as us! We would still love to meet more people local to Cheltenham or the Cotswolds who walk their cat(s) on leads as well.

Our Experiences of the Public’s Responses

We love walking with Moss for many reasons but our favourite has to be to make others smile. It’s almost guaranteed that every time we take Moss outside with us someone says something along the lines of ‘it’s made my day seeing her’. It’s been lovely to safely meet so many new people and have short chats on our daily walks, especially during the past year with the pandemic. We have definitely found that walking cats on leads is still fairly uncommon in the UK, we think due to everybody being very cautious of what other people think!

 One of the most common questions we are asked when we are out and about is ‘why do you walk her and does she enjoy it?’. As I stated in the introduction, it began out of safety concerns and as we knew we had plans to live in a van in the future we knew we would be regularly on the move and didn’t want Moss to be stuck in a small space for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sure, if we had let Moss grow up completely indoors or outdoors she would be used to either lifestyle. However, walking her outside regularly encourages stimulation, helps her become used to traffic, dogs and new people and we find her to be noticeably calmer after walking with us. Before taking her outside we read up on the pros and cons and decided that it would work best for us and Moss has never seemed uncomfortable or reluctant to walk. In fact, quite the opposite, jumping down from her backpack to walk alongside us and eagerly exploring rocks, trees and branches. Moss is quite timid and it is important that she has control and can get to the safety of her backpack whenever she needs to. Even if we have some minor setbacks or days where Moss doesn’t feel like walking, we’ve noticed a huge improvement from when we started and her confidence has grown massively.

 It is important to remember that some people might not agree with walking your cat on a lead but as long as your cat is happy and enjoys their time outside you shouldn’t let it phase you. In almost a year, we have only had a handful of outwardly negative interactions which is not comparable to the amount of love she receives! Even being called a ‘crazy cat lady’ doesn’t stop us!

Important Points

Every cat is different - Some cats will be less cautious than Moss, whereas others will be much more aware of their surroundings. Moss has slowly improved in open spaces but still prefers trail walks where she has a clear path to follow.

Be aware of dogs - Off-lead dogs do worry us. We pick Moss up as soon as we notice one and put her into her backpack. Most dogs don’t even notice Moss when she’s high up but we never want to take the risk of her being injured or getting spooked. We feel more comfortable doing walks where dogs should be kept on leads although this is never 100% guaranteed. We have been told that it was a good job that Moss was so high up and that a persons dog didn’t notice or we’d ‘be in trouble’ even though Moss is always on her lead and would retreat to her backpack rather than get close to a dog. It is important to note that your pet on a lead is not the cause if off-lead dogs becoming aggressive.

Use apps to find suitable walking routes - We are part of local Facebook walking groups that share circular walks around the Cotswolds. We also use apps such as OS Maps to find routes that we know will be of a suitable length and nature for ourselves and Moss. We started on shorter walks and Moss would spend most of the time in her backpack, whereas now she sometimes walks up to 5km with us! Some of our favourite walks are from the National Trust site which are slightly longer but are often quiet with beautiful views.

 Thank you for reading and we hope you enjoyed this post,

Beth, Megan and Moss x

Instagram: mosstherat
Megan’s Instagram: meganthebendall
Email: mosstherat@gmail.com