The RSPCA has warned that pet owners should stop walking their cats around on a leash because they become stressed and agitated when they “lose control”.
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 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.
However, the RSPCA warned that this well-meaning trend is having the opposite of the desired effect, because forcing cats to walk with a collar or harness removes their “sense of control”.
A spokeswoman for the charity added: “A sense of control is very important to cats and being walked on a collar or harness prevents them from having control.
“We would generally suggest that for most cats taking steps to provide an indoor environment which has plenty of opportunities to be active and mentally stimulated is likely to be more beneficial for the cat’s welfare than walking them on a lead.”