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Hints and Tips for walking your cat:
  • Allow your cat some time to get familiar with the jacket before you put it on. Place the jacket on the floor so that they can sniff it and see that it is harmless. Handle the jacket and gently rub it against your cat so that it has a familiar scent.
  • Allow yourself some time to become familiar with the jacket! Make sure that you understand how to fit the jacket and practice using the fastening mechanisms. Your cat will only be as relaxed as you are – if you struggle and tense up when fitting the jacket so will your cat!
  • Always put the jacket away, out of your cat’s sight, when you have finished using it. If you do this, your cat will eventually associate the jacket with going out and will be more likely to be cooperative when it is time to fit the jacket.
  • You might find it easier to put the jacket on your cat if they are at waist height or even higher. A table or a piece of cat furniture is an ideal spot to place your cat when you fit the jacket on them. If you are consistent in putting the jacket away at the end of each walk and encourage your cat to stand on the same spot each time when fitting the jacket, he/she may eventually learn to jump onto this spot as soon as their jacket is brought out. Most cats want to get outside as quickly as possible and will give you a helping hand to get that jacket on!
  • Once you and your cat have familiarised yourselves with the jacket and you have selected your spot – it is time to proceed to the first fitting. It is vital that the collar part of the jacket is tightened enough to prevent your cat from slipping his/her head out. Make sure that the straps that go around the torso are also tightened sufficiently – but not so much that they restrict or cut into your cat.
  • If this is the first time that your cat has worn a jacket then he/she will probably now react in some way – this is a new sensation to them and they need some time and encouragement to work out that this is not a danger. Distraction is a good technique and you may find it handy to have some treats or food to hand. Most cats respond by ‘going low’ and may take a few tentative steps and then promptly sit/lie down. Reassure your cat – use a calm, encouraging voice and use your usual rewards – treats, stroking, patting, playing with a toy. If your cat is really struggling try fitting the jacket when he/she is hungry and then give them a feed with their jacket on – usually a cat’s desire to eat will overcome their desire to have the jacket removed! Don’t worry too much if your cat doesn’t take to the jacket straight away – just remember that distraction and positive reinforcement are vital. You may find that your cat’s objections to the jacket lessen as soon as you take them outside – this is a huge distraction for an ‘indoor’ cat and the excitement of being outside soon outweighs any discomfort they may be feeling.
  • Once you are confident that your cat will not escape from the jacket proceed to fit a lead onto the jacket and take your first steps outside. Make sure that you use a lightweight lead that will not weigh down on your cat and ensure that it fits securely onto the jacket. It is important that the first outing is in a safe and secure environment where you are able to control what happens – an enclosed garden or courtyard for example. This is particularly important for an indoor cat as this is a big step for them and they will probably be quite anxious.
  • Never pull your cat if they are going in the wrong direction. Cats are strong willed and don’t like being told what to do! If you pull them they will probably react angrily and struggle violently. Walking a cat is not like walking a dog – you cannot choose your route and expect your cat to trot alongside because they want the exercise! Cats prefer to explore and watch, they will have their own agenda and will expect you to be patient. If your cat does start to move in a direction that you do not think is safe/suitable then just make sure that you are positioned behind them, stand still and keep your lead tight. Your cat will continue to try and move in the direction that they want to go but they will soon discover that it is not possible and will eventually give up and move in a direction that is possible. It may take a few minutes before he/she gives in, but it is vital that you do not pull or make it a negative experience. Always make sure that you stand behind your cat – this way they cannot wriggle or ‘back out’ of the jacket.
  • Never leave your cat unattended in the jacket. Never use a stake – your cat would be unable to escape from any dangers and could become tangled in the lead or be left hanging. The jacket is designed to be used in conjunction with a patient, caring owner who anticipates and avoids dangerous situations.
If you, or your cat, are particularly nervous it may be a good idea to keep a lightweight pet carry bag with you during your stroll. Various strong fabric types are now available – including backpack and handbag styles. Your cat will always have a safe place to bolt if it all gets too much!
 
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