Leash Training Your Cat
Have you seen some brave cat owners walking their cat down the street? Have you ever wondered if your cat would do that? It turns out you can train a cat to walk on a leash. Although it isn’t quite the same as a dog and not every cat will take to it. It takes a specific cat to find this sort of thing fun. You have to figure out one thing first.
Is my cat an ideal candidate for leash training?
Is your cat curious about the outdoors? Have they been acting bored and anxious lately? Do they loiter near the door when it’s open? Are they often trying to dart outside when you open the door?
All of those could be good signs that your cat would take to leash training. Even if they don’t, you’re welcome to try anyway. Your cat may surprise you.
Steps to Leash Train Your Cat
Getting Used to the Harness
You’ll want to use a harness, not a collar for your cat. Your cat would slide right out of the collar once a leash is attached to it. Cats can slip out of some harnesses, so be alert! You’ll want to make sure that you can put two fingers under the vest. Any more or less will be a bad fit for your cat.
Once you have selected a harness for your feline, have them wear it (without the leash attached). Watch how your cat reacts, and be ready to take it off if your kitty starts panicking and trying to get it off. Each day, try to get them to wear it a little longer. Every time you take the harness off, give them a treat. When your cat gives you signs of being done with wearing it, be sure to respect that, or it’ll become a hated activity instead of a fun one.
You can move on to the next step when your cat is walking around with the vest on just as casually as they do when they aren’t wearing one.
Adding the Leash
Now that your cat is used to wearing the vest, you can attach the leash. First, try letting your feline drag the leash. For some cats, that can be scary. So, if they don’t seem to like that leash chasing them, try picking it up and following them around loosely. Provide a steady stream of treats during this process. Never let your cat loose unsupervised with the leash attached (it could get caught on something).
Once your curious cat is used to that part, try using it as a guide. Gently tug the leash and call your cat to you. Offer a treat as a reward when your kitty comes. They will learn to associate going where you pull with yummy treats.
When you can guide your cat around the house, you’re ready for the outdoors!
Be prepared- walking a cat is not like walking a dog. Dogs are happy to keep walking along. Some of them may stop and sniff, but in the end, they’re likely to keep moving. Walking a cat is more like supervising an exploration. Your kitty will be much more likely to stop and explore everything on the way. It won’t be an aerobic exercise for you, but it may be a pleasant walk.
Make sure you carry your cat over the threshold. It will help your feline distinguish the difference between walking time and stay inside time. Start in your yard, and let your cat explore the yard first. Your cat should be setting the pace here. Let them decide how far to go. When they finish, go back inside. Try to spend a little more time outside with each of your visits. Always respect your cat’s wishes. They will communicate when they are ready to go inside, and you need to be receptive to that.
You can start exploring your neighborhood as soon as your cat is ready to go that far. Your feline friend will let you know.
Remember, not every cat has a personality to enjoy walks. If yours does not like walks, do not force the issue. You can give them a chance to warm up to it, however. If your cat takes longer on one stage than another, do not worry about it. Every cat is an individual. Do not be discouraged - stay patient!
Also, never leave your cat unattended when they are on their leash. Your furry friend may end up trapped and unable to escape a threat or get themselves hurt on their leash. Don’t underestimate your cat’s ability to find trouble. Good luck with your mutual adventures!