Leash Training Your Cat
Leash training your cat can be done. It requires a lot of patience and a few simple rules.
A harness is best for a cat. Not one designed for a small dog, one that is specific to cats like these options available at pet smart. Cat’s won’t respond well to jerking their collar so a harness is really the best way to go. A proper harness should be loose and comfortable for the cat. Getting the correct size for your cat is key. Too small and they may get hurt, too big and they may slip away.
You want the fabric of the harness to be lightweight and breathable. Remember your cat will be wearing this outside where there is a higher risk of overheating. A nice one made from cloth or nylon would work well. I’m partial to a step-in harness so I don’t have to put anything over their head but select what is comfy for you and your cat. Most harnesses come with a leash but if yours doesn’t make sure to get one as well.
Where to Start?
First, allow your cat to play with the leash and harness so she gets used to them. You can bait them by spraying them with catnip spray or sprinkle some catnip on them. Once your kitty is comfortable with them lying around, Try putting the harness on her and see how she reacts. This step is very important, if you force the cat to wear the harness, they are not going to be happy at all with the harness or with you. Take your time with all the steps. If your cat balks at any step, go back to the previous one. It is a lot harder getting a cat to cooperate than it is for a dog. Remember to be patient.
After the cat is wearing the harness loose, then it is time to tighten the harness up until it is the right fit for the cat. According to this article on fitting your cat for a harness, you should have a minimum space between harness and cat of 1-2 fingers. You will want to give the cat time to wear the harness. Let them lay in it and walk around in it. Imagine the first time you wear a pair of new shoes? This is what your cat is going to be experiencing.
Once they are comfortable in the harness, try to attach the leash. So you’ve got to this point, it’s time to start walking outside…wrong. You will want to start walking the cat inside and let them get comfortable. Once the cat is comfortable with the leash then it is time to go outside for a walk.
When walking with the cat make sure there is not too much loose leash or they will be running in all random directions. There are many distractions for a cat outdoors – birds, squirrels, and the neighbor’s pets might cause your cat to want to run around, but you must keep a tight leash so that your cat can walk with you and is not dragging you all over the place. Yes much like walking a St.Bernard a cat can have you running all over. It’s good to start small and perhaps only walk your cat on your balcony or front lawn. Once you start venturing further from home take care to notice other fur-babies out for their walks as this could frighten your feline or lead to dangerous situations for your cat.
In The End:
Remember that outside time can be extremely rewarding for your cat, but not all cats will like walks. Be patient and respectful with your kitty. Don’t force them to do anything that makes them stressed or anxious. Doing so could result in creating fear in your pet. Fang hates outside so I would never try to take him for a walk.
Something to keep in mind, rewarding your cat during leash training can help create positive associations. Having some treats on hand both inside and out will help reward your kitty for doing such a good job.
With patience and planning, you will soon be enjoying your outings. Share your leash training stories in the comments, I would love to hear how it goes.