Pet owners should stop walking their cats around on a leash because they become stressed and agitated when they “lose control”, the RSPCA has warned.
Across Britain a growing number of pet owners are walking their cats on leads in a bid to give them more “enrichment”, the charity says – but doing so is likely to do more harm than good.
With many cats cooped up indoors for prolonged periods, particularly in urban towns and cities, there has been a drive in recent years to provide them with more freedom.
Capitalising on the trend, well known pet brands have released their own line of cat walking products, with specialists including PetSafe UK and PetPlanet stocking a range of cat harnesses and leads.
Meanwhile, social media is also believed to be encouraging the trend, with the hashtag #catwalking used more than 14,000 times on Instagram alongside pictures of owners taking their cats through city centres, on public transport and to country parks.
They include actress Marleen Maathuis and interior designer Tim Van Cromcoirt, from south London, who recently took their Maine Coon cat, Ash, on a three day walking holiday to Snowdonia.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Ms Maathuis said that because Ash was unable to roam freely at home, they had trained him on a leash and now regularly take him on walks across the capital.
“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 added.
‘Cats are curious animals, they like exploring. It would be a shame if he just stayed indoors because of the busy roads.’
“Some people didn’t notice, whilst others were amazed and struggled to grasp the idea that we were walking the cat. Other people walked by with their dogs and the dogs looked more surprised than they did.
“In London, we see it often, people walking ferrets, rabbits – we even saw a guinea pig on a leash in the park recently….