In last week’s cat enrichment post, we discussed bringing the outdoors inside. But this week, it’s all about outdoor enrichment for indoor cats. Allowing them to see the sights and smell the smells is an excellent way to indulge your cat and provide a bit of excitement.
So, if you’ve ever thought about adventuring with your cat, or even just letting them roll around in your backyard, using a cat-specific harness and leash is a safe way to do this.
This is the third of five articles in our October cat enrichment series. This post is sponsored by Sleepypod because they believe enrichment for your cat is important.
Disclosure: We are being compensated for this educational post. We received the Sleepypod harnesses and leashes for free. All opinions stated here are our own.
Why should I take my indoor cat outside?
First, you should only allow your cat outside if it’s safe and both you and your cat are comfortable doing so. You never want to force your cat into an unknown or unsafe situation. Also, if you have an indoor-only cat, they should always be supervised while they’re outside.
Bringing your cat outside on a harness and leash allows for a safe way to explore. Or, to just lounge on the grass and relax. Here are some reasons why outdoor enrichment for indoor cats is beneficial.
Indoor-only cats may not experience a change in scenery often. And no matter how many toys or boxes we provide, they can still get bored. Taking them outside would clearly offer them a new experience and help prevent boredom.
So many sights, so many sounds!
The outdoors provides so much mental stimulation! Your cat can smell the fresh air, hear the birds chirping, roll around on the fresh grass, and pounce on a bug or two. They will have so many new scents to smell and sights to see – all of these new stimuli will keep their minds engaged and active.
Let’s get moving
One of the biggest benefits of taking your cat outside on a harness and leash is clearly the physical aspect. While they may start off being timid, hopefully, they will love the opportunity to explore. They can jump, run, chase, pounce, and roll around to their heart’s content. Getting them moving will help keep them in better physical condition.
Hello, new friend
If you discover you have an adventure cat, you may choose to bring them to a park or even on a hike. They may meet other people or animals. If they’re shy, you’ll of course want to ensure you control any meetings and only do so if they’re comfortable. But this is a great way to socialize an outgoing and friendly cat.
How do I take my cat outside safely?
Now that we know how indoor-only cats can benefit from going outside, we want to make sure it’s done in a safe way – and that would be with a cat-specific harness and a good, non-retractable leash.
You may wonder if you can use a dog harness. After all, there are plenty on display at pet stores and big box stores. But dogs and cats are built differently, and cats are great escape artists. So, make sure you select a harness that is designed specifically for cats.
And what about the leash? No, the leash doesn’t need to be cat-specific. But I would recommend using a shorter leash with your cat, especially if you’re taking them out for the first time. You’ll have more control over them.
You’ll also want a lightweight leash, not a chain leash that makes a jingling noise and could scare your cat.
If you’re unsure where to get started, check out this post I wrote called 6 Steps to Leash Training Your Cat over on my cats’ blog (yes, I have a blog specifically about my own cats – they deserve it!).
Sleepypod Martingale Calming Harness for Cats
The cat harness we use is made by Sleepypod. In the past, we’ve used their Martingale Cat Harness. But released just this month (October 2023), Sleepypod has introduced their new Martingale Calming Harness for Cats.
Here’s what Sleepypod says about their new harness: This breathable walking harness for cats wraps around the body like a calming hug, helping to soothe fear and anxiety.
The harness has a cinching feature, too. So when you pull on the leash, the harness cinches around the cat’s torso, creating more control over the cat and also helping prevent escape. The harness is adjustable at the neck and chest and has two quick-release buckles.
Also, the harness has a light that can be solid or flashing, helping with safety if you take an evening stroll.
Sleepypod Slim Leash
Paired with our Sleepypod harness, we use the Slim Leash they make, which is a six-foot-long, lightweight leash. We have one in peony pink and one in charcoal grey. The Slim Leash is made from high tensile strength nylon webbing with a push-on snap hook.
Dexter goes for a stroll
I asked my four cats who wanted to model the new Martingale Calming Harness, and Dexter raised his paw first. Check him out as he explores the grassy area behind our house.
By the way, out of my four cats, Dexter enjoys harness time the most. Sophie, our white cat, and Woodrow, our other tabby, could take it or leave it. Olive, our tortie, is a hard pass. Remember, not all cats will be interested in going outside to explore, and that’s okay.
It’s time for the giveaway!
UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed.
Sleepypod is generously giving away one (1) Martingale Calming Harness for Cats and one (1) Slim Leash to three winners! The giveaway is open to residents in the U.S. and Canada and closes on October 22, 2023 at 5:00pm Pacific, full details below.
Requirements to enter the Sleepypod giveaway:
- Subscribe to the Cat Lady Alley newsletter via the Newsletter Signup form below. If you’re already a newsletter subscriber, great! You don’t need to subscribe again. If you’re a new subscriber, you must confirm your subscription, so check your spam folder! (Form now removed.)
- Leave a comment on this blog post about anything! Example: Have you ever tried leash training your cat?
- Confirm your two required entries via the Rafflecopter widget below. Bonus/optional entries are available as well.
- For Canadian entrants only: You must answer the skill question in the Rafflecopter widget below. U.S. entrants, feel free to take an extra entry by answering as well, although it’s not required.
The giveaway is open to residents in the U.S. and Canada, 18+ years of age, except where prohibited by law. Three winners will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter and contacted via email on Sunday, October 22, 2023 after 5:00pm Pacific. Each winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize through email. Failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize, and a new winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter. One (1) Martingale Calming Harness for Cats, valued at $49.99 USD, and one (1) Slim Leash, valued at $35.99 USD, will be sent directly from Sleepypod to each winner. Each winner can choose from the available colors in stock. The giveaway closes on October 22, 2023 at 5:00pm Pacific.
Regarding Canadian entrants: Any litigation respecting the conduct or organization of a publicity contest may be submitted to the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux for a ruling. Any litigation respecting the awarding of a prize may be submitted to the board only for the purpose of helping the parties reach a settlement.
Bonus entries through the Rafflecopter widget below!
If you’re looking for other cat enrichment ideas, check out our post: 10 Cat Enrichment Ideas for a Happy and Healthy Cat
Earlier posts in this October enrichment series include:
- Enriching Playtime with the Ripple Rug Cat Activity Mat
- Kitty Lawn: Bring the outdoors inside for your cat’s enjoyment
- About the Author
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Rachel is a lifelong cat lover, who loves writing and sharing about all things cat. Having been a cat mom for over 13 years, she is passionate about animal welfare and has fostered several cats and kittens. Rachel has used her skills as an award-winning blogger to volunteer as a writer and editor for a nationwide program supporting shelter cats. She entertains readers with her own cats’ antics on her other blog Three Chatty Cats. Rachel and her husband Ross share their home with four adorable cats – Dexter, Olive, Sophie, and Woodrow – and one handsome pup named Guster.