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Not just for dogs: Get a cat out for a walk with a leash

The cat might need some positive reinforcement to

The cat might need some positive reinforcement to use a harness and leash.  Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Q Regarding your advice to Carol about her cat that wants to go outside, why not suggest that she harness and leash the cat and take it for a walk?

— Bill, Nesconset

A That's not a bad idea. Not every cat will warm up to being on a leash, but many cats enjoy getting outside, just like dogs, and leash walking may be an option.

To teach a cat to walk on a leash, she should buy a harness and let the cat get used to wearing it around the house for about five minutes a day (and then adding the leash), using positive reinforcement to reassure her feline. Once the cat is comfortable, she can then venture outside for short trips in the yard. If Carol is patient and consistent, she could enjoy a nice stroll with her cat — or at least some interesting meanderings.

Depending on where she lives, she also could build a "catio," which is a custom-built, screened-in enclosure that attaches to the house and allows the feline access to the outdoor space via a window, door or cat door. If the catio is placed in the middle of the yard, which might be the case with some of the new retail cat enclosures being sold today, she would have to run mesh tunnels into the yard, so the cat can go back and forth, or be willing to carry the cat back and forth to the space for its outside time.

Either way, Carol has more options for accommodating an indoor cat's persistent requests for outside time.

Q I was sad to read about Jerri from Syosset, whose Havanese was grieving the loss of his Lhasa apso companion. Please suggest the Bach flower remedy of Star of Bethlehem, which might help mitigate the trauma the dog suffered. Two drops in his water daily should help. Bach flower remedies are tinctures made from plants, trees and flowers that are said to turn "negative" emotions into "positive" ones. They are said to be safe, gentle, effective and have no side effects. The 38 remedies (plus Rescue Remedy, the most well-known) could help people and animals overcome emotional conditions such as fear, uncertainty, loneliness and despondency. The creator/developer of the essences, Dr. Edward Bach, was an immunologist, physician and bacteriologist. . Bach was inspired to observe people and concluded that these negative emotional states precipitated illness. He then set out to create the essences that are used today, nearly 100 years after Dr. Bach's work, which spanned about a decade from the 1920s to the 1930s. A great book for the remedies and pet/animal use is: "Bach Flower Remedies for Animals," by Helen Graham and Gregory Vlamis.

— Amy Shaffer Crawley, Bach Foundation registered  practitioner, Queens

A I have used Bach's Rescue Remedy myself for stress, and I have used the recommended few drops in water with my pets as well during moves to new homes. I am very open to alternative approaches to pet care, which in veterinary medicine is often referred to as "integrative medicine." My dogs have received acupuncture and homeopathic treatments in addition to traditional medicine with much success.

It looks like as a practitioner you can offer guidance in this area. Pet parents also can find a holistic veterinarian near them by searching the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association's database at

Q I read your column about Jerri and his dog who was mourning over the loss of his canine companion. Although they say they can't adopt another dog at this time in their life, I'm wondering if they had considered adopting an older dog that may have lost its owner/companion too.

— Phyllis, Las Vegas, Nevada

A Whenever a dog (or cat) suffers the loss of an animal companion, it can be helpful to adopt another pet to fill the void. Very often though, when the older pet dies, we are left with another grieving pet and the decision as to whether adopt again.

I am not sure why the family can't adopt another dog right now; it could be for financial reasons or because they are older themselves and can't handle the care of another pet. But your suggestion of adopting an older dog or a dog closer to the surviving dog's age not only finds a home for an often difficult to place older pet, but may provide the limited companionship a surviving dog might need for its remaining years.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.

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