Diary of a Cat Walker #1

Updated: Nov 10, 2018


NOTE: I began training Gloria to walk on leash at the end of September 2018. This diary was started around 6 weeks into her training program. For more information on the early stages of the process, read The Zen of Cat Walking.


This is the first in a series of posts on teaching my cat, Gloria Vanderbilt, to walk on a leash. This particular walk, in William Cann Neighborhood Park in Union City, CA, took place a few days ago but I'm just getting to it now. I've been working with Gloria for about 6 weeks so far, taking her out 4-7 days a week. Progress is gradual, but steady, and I'm pretty happy with how things are going.


Gloria is about a year and a half old now, and though she's been on leash in the past, I didn't actually begin the real process until about 6 weeks ago.

I generally take her out during my lunch break and we spend about 30-45 minutes in a local park. At first, I took my lunch with me and ate it while she acclimated to the park.

I generally take her out during my lunch break and we spend about 30-45 minutes in a local park. At first, I took my lunch with me and ate it while she acclimated to the park.

I still generally sit down for 4-5 minutes and let her sniff around before beginning the walk in earnest. I do this because it gives her a chance to assess the safety of the situation before being asked to walk with me.


Yes, cats can be taught to walk "with" you rather than leading the way. Gloria is pretty good at it, but when she's scared, she'll stop in her tracks and dig in. When that happens, I simply pick her up and carry her for a bit. When she's ready, I put her down, and if she tries to go in the opposite direction, I give her a chance to correct course (she knows what she's doing), and if she doesn't, I pick her up again. On an anxious day, I carry her out to the furthest point of the intended walk and set her down and let her walk back. Generally, after a few minutes of walking, the fear she felt begins to lessen. On this day, in the accompanying video snippet, I decided to let her decide the course for a while, redirecting occasionally to move her in the right direction when she began to stray.


She did a great job, and at one point, stalked a squirrel!


Here's one of the secrets of cat walking. After a few trips outdoors, most cats, though still pretty scared of the big outdoors, are crazy/happy to get home. After a few minutes at home, they seek out their owner and cuddle, as if to say: "Thank you. It was scary but exciting at the same time. And though I don't want to do it again, part of me actually does."


Over time, your cat will become more comfortable and begin to raise it's tail proudly and excitedly. Gloria does from time to time...especially when we go to the Historic Nursery in Fremont, CA. I'll take you there next time.