This is according to sales data from cat accessory brand and training school Supakit.
Susie Hewer from East Sussex adopted her cat Shelley from a rescue centre. Shelley had been badly burned after hiding inside a car bonnet and was very nervous about the outdoors.
Susie said: “I’d been advised by the rescue centre that due to Shelley’s experiences, she would be best suited to being an indoor cat. We have a large garden, away from people, and I wondered whether I could take Shelley outside on a lead. I tried it once and it didn’t go well. I then found Supakit’s harnesses and went through the harness training with the Supakit Academy.
“The video tutorials were brilliant and the whole course was about fun and working up to the first outing. I had a trail of cat treats leading to the harness! At first, we practiced just walking around the house on the lead before building up to the garden, and I think it was literally just two steps outside before she ran back in. Now, we’re up to about ten minutes and that is ideal for Shelley, that time outside makes her happy and she has interests both inside the house and outside.
“We’ve had cats before who were outdoors most of the day, and some cats are like that, but I think it’s a misconception that all cats are the same. I’d say don’t be afraid to try harness training. The experience may be different to what you imagined, some days your cat might not want to go on the harness, and that’s fine. The important thing is that you are getting to understand your cat’s needs, and making a positive difference to your cat’s life. The help I’ve had through the Supakit Academy has been fantastic, and I can’t recommend it enough.”
The other counties in the top 12 for cat walking were Berrkshire, Devon, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Hampshire, Kent, Surrey, Essex, London and Hertfordshire with customers from these regions buying the most car harnesses in 2021.
Leili Farzaneh, co-founder and CEO of Supakit founded the brand with partner Kevin in 2016 after making a breakaway collar for cat and ‘serial collar destroyer’ Lola, with the first Supakit cat harness introduced in 2018. Contrary to popular belief, Leili says that cats can benefit from training as much as dogs:
“We often do a disservice to cats, thinking of them as solitary creatures that take care of themselves but if we have a cat as a domestic pet, then we have a responsibility to meet their needs. Cats need stimulation just as much as dogs, boredom can be terrible for them, especially if they are house cats. Training of all types is a great way of offering mental stimulation to your cat. Combining that with harness training allows you to open up new sensory experiences outdoors for your cat too.
The Supakit Academy launched in 2021, with a course on How to Harness Train Your Cat:
Leili said: "One of the biggest mistakes people make with harness training is just buying a harness and putting it on. It’s stressful for the cat, they don’t like the harness, and that’s the end for most people. With the Supakit Academy, putting the harness on is 14 sessions in. By that point, putting the harness on is fun and stress free.
“Fear of what others might think often puts people off harness training. In the Academy, we build confidence so the owner can read their cat’s body language and know they are harness training for the benefit of their cat. Most interest and questions when cat walking comes from a place of curiosity but there are many like-minded people in the UK already enjoying the benefits of harness training for their cats.”