31 New Things: Walk My Cat On A Leash and Be All “What?”

I would like to preface this post by telling you that if my cat Putin was a human, he would be Niles Crane. He would probably have a variety of imagined ailments, he’d be allergic to peanuts, he’d be married to shrew of a woman and he’d definitely have a PhD in Something Useless from Somewhere Impressive.I’m just saying: Putin is not necessarily an example of robust manhood.

He’s more an example of Fraidy Cat, Fancy Boy.

So I did not take this goal of leash-using and outside-going lightly. Oh, no. There was a week of just wearing the harness around the house for funsies. There were two weeks of wearing the harness outside, while sitting on a blanket. There was walking on the leash up and down the halls of the apartment building. There was pre-walk cat-nip doping and mid-walk treat-giving.

And you know what all this resulted in? A whole lot of this:

Total refusal to engage in walking. Followed directly by:

Freak out. “OMG! Is that a squirrel?! Don’t squirrels eat cat face for breakfast?!”

“That hydrangea is glowering at meeeee!”

“Human across the street. Dire threat to personal safety. Eff this noise.”

“I can has inside?”

Have you ever walked a non-dog pet on a leash? What’s your secret to success?

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  1. Karen Travels

    Oh my goodness this post had me laughing out loud!!! I have never walked Ms. Boo-dah outside (or inside)but after discussing this idea with her we might make it happen!!

  2. lucia

    Why Putin? Especially from a writer, as the man Putin (former KGB) is linked to the assassination of Russian writers and journalists? Please tell me why I'm wrong to jump to any conclusions here – I'm a huge fan of this blog!

  3. Raquel

    My mother used to walk me around on a leash all throughout south-east asia. Was mainly for my protection, though, because everywhere we went, the ladies would all swarm over the cute blue-eyed, red-headed child! Have never walked a cat on a leash myself.

    Lucia, I think 'Putin' is short for 'Rasputin' unless I am much mistaken?

  4. Amy --- Just A Titch

    My cat, Harry, is a similar Delicate Flower. He doesn't enjoy the scary outdoors. Nor does he enjoy the harness.

    Also, random question: what will become of Putin while you travel?! I know it's lame, but the idea of being away from little Harry for more than a week KILLS ME. I was gone for 3 weeks last summer and it hurt my soul.

  5. Rhiannon

    Ah yes, I am a strong proponent of the cats outside only on leash and harness. So over the years I've put a lot of cats out for their first sampling of outside on the leash and harness (i foster so there's been a great many cats outside of my own that i've done this with). Some take to it, and others pull a Putin. And yet others pull a Putin and then come around to loving it eventually (like my girl Deliah). I have a stake in my yard that I attach a 15 foot leash too so they can galavant in the garden while i sit out with them. But seriously… there's nothing funnier than a cat afraid of a squirrel in the yard
    Thanks for the jolly good laugh!

  6. KSpice

    You have to start really young with cats to get them to walk on a leash, and start with getting them used to their surroundings. Its difficult.

  7. Luinae

    Ohmygosh, so funny! Thanks for that.

  8. msmoonfox

    I used to try and walk my cat Poppy on a leash… it would result in me carrying her around the block though…

  9. zyzzyva

    My parents (cat lovers/owners) always likened walking a cat on a leash to 'trying to walk the Campbell soup can.' My cat (a siamese named Carlos) goes limp in an attempt to be dead weight, then army-crawls back to the door and begs to be let back indoors.

    Have you seen the Flickr Pool "The World's Heaviest Harness"? Too funny and too true.

  10. zyzzyva

    This one is my favorite. =^.,.^=

  11. kelseyyyann

    I died reading this post. Hilarious!

  12. Deigie

    My cat Rosco was going good on a leash until one day when we went near my car. The door was open, as my boyfriend had decided to get something out of it, and poor Rosco thought we meant to put him inside it or something.

    Long story short, he pulled a Houdini, ran across the street, then ran back to my apartment building and hid under the front porch. I battled spiders, glass, and one ticked off cat in trying to rescue him. That was the end of Rosco's leash adventures.

    I do sometimes let him on the deck of my new place (it's two stories up and we've installed chicken wire at the stairs), as we both love to lounge in the sun πŸ™‚

  13. jesse.anne.o

    Like one of the other posters, I also fostered a bunch of cats and have a lot of exposure to cat rescue groups in general both through my job and volunteer work and the only people I know who have successfully done the outside/harness thing with their cats are cats who were just too hyperactive to stay inside, even with lots of enrichment. None of my cats fall into this category – they're under-socialized and fearful for a variety of reasons from personality to previous histories – so I have never bothered trying since it would just stress them out.

    There has been some wildlife fatalities that the owners didn't condone and some stress getting the cats out of trees (or out from behind dryers at public laundrettes!) but thankfully no escapees yet!

  14. Diana

    These pictures and captions are too cute!

    I took my pet iguana on a leash when I was a kid – he wasn't crazy about it, but he walked around the house a bit with in.

  15. oonaballoona

    aaaaaaaaahhhhHHHHHH! hilarious!!! oh please upload to cheezeburger!

    okay,i'm calm now. yes, i've walked my cat outdoors– my blind cat, to be exact– the hubs & i took her out into the middle of central park (NY). she is absolutely 100% fearless. she would be Mankind to your Putin's Niles.

  16. Angela

    A long, long time ago I tried to walk my Siamese cat on a leash. And as I was walking, I noticed that she all of a sudden felt heavier. I look back, and she is allowing me to drag her on her back, with this look of martyrdom on her face.

    Yup, I got nothing.

  17. Melanie

    We have two cats, and neither one took to the harness and leash in the least.

    They both end up going "OMG this thing is so heavy that I can't even walk. Seriously, I think I'll just lay down here now, thanks."

    Luna (who's solid white like the moon – get it?) is a total priss and scaredy cat. She freaks the eff out whenever you take her outside.

    Russell (an orange tabby barely past kittenhood) is more laid-back and actually paws at the back door at times. He pals around with our youngest dog, and sometimes we're sure he thinks he's one of them. But still, take him outside and he just wants back in.

  18. amanda

    i think it depends on the cat! i have two – sox & chad (shadow) – and they're litter mates. they love being outside, at least behind the house, so one day i decided to take them to the park. sox turned out to be so afraid of everything, i'm guessing from being in an unfamiliar place, and she froze at the slightest noise. chad was quite the opposite – he walked the entire perimeter of the park, pulling me around & snacking on grass. i wish i had thought to take pictures like you did. loved this!

  19. Brigid

    We have two house rabbits (a male Polish and a female mini lop, and yes, they're both fixed), and we've "walked" both of them on leashes, using cat harnesses, to moderate success. They don't really understand the concept of leashes, so while they do figure out that they can't just go wherever they want, it's not really possible to lead them. We use the leashes to let them have some time to explore in the backyard and help weed out dandelion greens. It's more labor-intensive than just putting them in a pen outside to graze, but kind of fun!

  20. JennAventures

    This had me rolling. I'm invisioning my Ari (who is always trying to escape) on a leash. So funny, poor Putin.

  21. Holly

    When I was little we would attempt to walk our rabbits down the block. Well. Rabbits don't really walk, for starters.

  22. Erin W

    Thunder Kitty is a chicken too. I used to take him on walks all the time and he loved it even though we got some strange stares. Then my work schedule got more consistent so we don't go out as much due to the dog ratio of the park near me. A tip: if your cat has claws, never pick him up when a dog is around, it will end in your shirt being ripped.

  23. Erin

    oh, but he's beautiful!

  24. Anastasia

    Poor thing. I tried to walk a ferret once. Walk is maybe too strong a word. Drag would be a better one.

  25. rachel

    Hahaha this post is amazing! Poor kitty…

  26. screwdestiny

    Oh man, I think trying to walk cats on leashes is effing hilarious!

  27. Anna Raffaella

    I, huh… walked a rabbit once. It was a little disastrous. Mostly because no matter how small the harness she would always figure a way out.

    But the walking part wasn't so bad.

    And that's funny, I had a cat when I was a kid and she would walk on a leash without a problem!


  28. Penny Dreadful

    Bwahahahahaha! Oh this made me laugh – what a CUTIE. He looks entirely freaked – well done for trying πŸ™‚

  29. Kalei's Best Friend

    My husband tried this w/our first cat.somehow seeing a cat on a leash, just ain't right. lol… Yours looks like its sayin' "R u frickin' nuts?"

  30. mylifereinvented

    That was just made my morning.
    When I was younger I tried so hard to walk my cat, Priscilla (her name described her personality very well). I got her on the leash took her outside and she would stiffen up and collapse the second her paw hit the ground.
    After many unsuccessful tries she figured out how to get out of the leash and run back inside.

  31. Erica


  32. Sara

    Hehehehehe I totally walk my cat. Well, "walk" is kind of a relative term. We live in the city in an apartment and we used to live in the 'burbs in a house with a yard on a dead end road. So Walt Whitman (the cat) does not go outside alone anymore. Instead I put his harness on and he gleefully barrels down the stairs and out into our courtyard where he proceeds to sit on the concrete sidewalk and eat leaves of grass from the side of the lawn. Yes, Walt Whitman's favorite thing to do is eat leaves of grass. And strangely enough, he refuses to sit on said leaves of grass and instead spends the entire time he's outside sitting on the concrete.

  33. InnyVinny


    I haven't ever walked a non-dog (the cats are NOT going for that), but I have seen a couple walking their pet pig. It was the greatest thing I'd seen up until they dropped the leash, ran, and the pig gave chase. Adorable.

    I kinda want a pet pig now.

  34. Anonymous

    We used to take our cats for "wanders." Changing the name got us out of the mindset that the cat would behave as a dog would on a leash. After getting the cat out of doors, I'd stand still while the cat adjusted to the non-climate-controlled setting. Eventually (usually when you've just about given up on the cat doing anything but sitting there and start to go back in), the cat will see something interesting to walk over and sniff. Then, it's a matter of keeping up when the cat is moving and being patient when it's not.

  35. Anna

    I've always wanted to try this, but my cat is not a cooperative creature. My old cat used to follow my parents on walks, and my neighbours walk their pygmy goats around the city.

  36. Chelsea

    I saw a lady in my neighborhood carrying her cat in one of those baby sling things. Maybe your kitty would prefer that. Haha

  37. Sarah Von Bargen

    don't worry! Two fantastic, cat-owning, no-kid-having friends of mine are taking Putin

    Raquel is right, 'Putin' is short for 'Rasputin.' I'm a dork for Russian history and I thought the nine-lives thing was an added bonus. Sadly, *my* Rasputin is probably not capable of surviving various attempts at poisoning as he can't even handle it when I change cat food brands πŸ˜‰

  38. Nattosoup

    My secrets to walking a cat are:

    1. Have a brave cat who thinks he is a dog.
    2. Start young.
    3. Establish a treat relationship with your cat. My cat does tricks (sit, stand) and comes to me when I press a clicker. It definitely helps.
    4. Either start with an already outside cat, or spend months getting your cat used to going outside.
    5. Practice walking outside in a quiet area, and be prepared to stop a lot. My cat wants to sniff/eat EVERYTHING.

  39. nicalyse

    I tried to teach both of my cats to like walking on a lead when they were kittens. Marilyn Monroe is not. a. fan. Puck, however, digs it, though I'm not sure a cat would ever be willing to walk on a lead like a dog.

    I think the best thing is to start young and not be upset if it doesn't take. Maybe Putin could, however, get used to sitting outside and then be more adventurous.

  40. Kelly L

    Ahhh, your cat is adorable! Love him.

    Also, we used to try to take my childhood cat for walks. We'd hook her up on a hot pink leash and go outside and she'd flop into the grass and then eat it. It was… exciting.

  41. Meghan

    I walk my cat on a leash. The trick for us has been to do it late at night when there are fewer cars and people out.
    Noises = scaredy cats

  42. rhomany

    My boy loves walking on his leash and he walks just like a dog. In fact, if you pick up his lead he'll come running to the back door ready for the off. He'll only go out if it's sunny though.

  43. leftcoastcontessa

    Your cat is adorable. I have a sassy pants calico named Izzy that I bought a leash for when I flew with her cross country. I tried to practice with her before the trip to the airport. Mostly she crouched low to the ground and refused to move.

  44. Laura Elaine

    That's hilarious! My roommate in college had a boy cat named Ferris, who was also what you like to call "fancy pants." He was quite effeminate and relished the times when she'd dress him up in his argyle sweater.

    She also thought nothing of putting on his harness (which was turquoise, a fabulous pairing with his orange fur and earned him the nickname Harnie) and walking him around the apartment complex with it. He really thought he was the cat's meow. Like "Yeah, I know I look good. This sweater? It's cashmere. Of course."

    He also seemed to squint all the time, which I'd never seen before with a cat. Six years later, my mom and I can still crack each other up by posing in pictures doing the Ferris squint. Thanks for drumming up great memories!

  45. Wendy

    it is better and healthier for your cat to be inside. I have two Bengal cats and with a cat condo and plenty of toys they get lots of exercise. Plus they won't get fleas, etc.
    I have had cats that I trained to stay to go out and stay right by my condo. They would come in as soon as I rattled their treats!

  46. Rachel

    When I was six years old, I saved up my money until I had $14 to buy a pink leather leash for my cat Purry. I was overjoyed at the thought of proudly parading around the neighborhood with her… until, of course, the big day came and all she would do was sit like a huddled rock on the edge of the lawn while I yanked the leash and pleaded.

  47. Anonymous

    I've done the leash thing, it can take a lot of time to get them used to the idea, in fact I've taken all of my cat's out on leashes. They can get used to it, but very few are actually going to be "leash trained" like a dog. I have a scardy cat that "going for a walk" entails me sitting on the deck with the door open and the cat cautiously peering around the corner for ten minutes before venturing out to sit next to me. Bring a book or your computer!

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