Top Animal Cruelty Organization Warns Against People Walking Cats
Veterinarian Reviewed on August 17, 2017 by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM
Posted in Cats
The UK’s top animal cruelty organization has warned cat owners against succumbing to a popular new trend fueled by social media.
Most pet cats are primarily indoor creatures with little if any desire for the outdoors, which is traditionally seen as a dangerous environment for them. But over the past few years, a growing amount of cat owners have posted photos showing their cats going for walks or even hikes with the help of a leash.
According to the Telegraph, the hashtag #catwalking has been used on Instagram more than 14,000 times, while Adventure Cat, an Instagram account showing cats enjoying the outdoors, has over 120,000 followers.
Pet Brands have reportedly capitalized on the trend by stocking up on cat harnesses, leashes, and kits for taking your cat on almost any adventure you have in mind.
Good Intentions With A Side Of Ignorance
Many cat walkers are under the impression that their cats were unhappy staying indoors all the time and would benefit from more exposure to nature. But the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals believes the trend may be having the complete opposite effect on certain animals.
“A sense of control is very important to cats, and being walked on a collar or harness prevents them having control,” the organization said. “It may be more difficult for them to move away or hide from anything which might scare or worry them.”
While some have been photographed paddle-boarding or rock climbing, the RSPCA stresses that most cats need nothing more than “an indoor environment with plenty of opportunities to be active and mentally stimulated.”
How To Tell If Your Cat Might Enjoy A Walk
Dr. Samantha Gaines, head of the RSCPA’s companion animals department, suggested that the organization fears the cat walking trend will encourage new cat owners to treat their pets similarly to dogs. For example, cats are significantly more territorial than dogs and are therefore more likely to disapprove the idea of being forced into unfamiliar places.
“All we want cat owners to consider is that every cat is an individual,” clarified Dr. Gaines.
In addition to temperament, cat owners might be able to tell if their pet would enjoy the outdoors based on their breed.
London’s Anita Kelsey has two Norwegian Forest Cats that she often takes on walks.
“Every cat is different,” she says. “Mine are a breed of cat that really wants to go outside. But nobody can force a cat to go on a [leash]; you can’t force a cat to do anything if they don’t want to.”
An Odd Trend Takes An Even Weirder Turn
Actress Marleen Maathuis recently took her Maine Coon cat to explore the mountains of Snowdonia, Wales. The trip was apparently motivated by the cat’s undeniable curiosity and lack of access to the outdoors.
“Just because we live in a flat and haven’t got a garden, we didn’t want him to miss out on the beauty of life,” she explained. “It would be a shame if he just stayed indoors because of the busy roads.’
Maathuis noted that cats are not the only conventionally indoor animal she’s seen walking around the United Kingdom. She claimed to have witnessed people strolling with ferrets, rabbits and even a guinea pig on a leash during a recent trip to the park.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan