If you are not familiar with the term, cat exploring refers to the activity of bringing your cat outdoors on a leash. It is similar in idea to walking a dog, but also nothing like it.
I got the idea first from @sukiicat on instagram, who is instagram famous and goes to all these magical places. But it wasn’t until I saw my friend walking her cat Charlie, that I thought it was a realistic thing to do with Teddy. Charlie would walk on a leash around the neighbourhood, and it looked so easy! Seeing a “normal” cat (as in not internet famous) do this really let me think it was possible to do with my own cat.
So I bought a cheap harness and leash, and tried it out with Teddy. When I could see him getting comfortable with it, I slowly progressed from walking in our building, the nearby park, car rides, and larger parks. It was so much fun seeing him enjoy himself outdoors! I tried many new activities with him over the years, some he liked, some he didn’t like, but that’s how it is.
One of the reasons I take Teddy out for walks, is because I could see that he was very engaged, excited, and fascinated by the outside world. At home, he had little interest in toys and would often stare out the window. We lived in an apartment which had a balcony, but no backyard for him to explore. As an energetic kitten, the best way to entertain him was by cat exploring with him, and I could see that he really enjoyed it!
Another reason, is that I also felt that indoor cats, particularly the ones living in a small apartment like we did, had a very small world. They spend their whole lives in the same few rooms. I felt like it was confining them in a way which was not natural. And I know, all pets are confined in some way. But I wanted to provide the best world I could. By bringing Teddy outside, letting him sniff all the bushes, chase all the leaves, I felt like that was giving him something I could not provide if he was strictly indoors.
And the last reason, is that I felt guilty for leaving him behind, alone at home. Especially as a kitten, he would demand so much attention, that even if I left him for a few hours, I knew he would be bored and upset. When I had to work in an office (remember those times?) I would run home over my lunch break to check on him. If I was going somewhere for a full day, I would feel terrible leaving him home alone! So by training Teddy to be ok with coming with me to new places, I was able to bring him along instead of leaving him home by himself.
These days, cat exploring is just a fun activity we do together. He keeps me company when I can’t find any other human to go with. We go to new places, try new activities, and take lots of photos. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it is challenging, but its also very fulfilling. Not to mention, I get a lot of attention from complete strangers!
Whatever your motivation is, it is awesome to see more and more cats out on a leash, exploring with their humans.
If you’ve been cat exploring for a while, do you remember why you started?