How To Train Your Cat To Walk On A Leash And Harness

Teaching your cat to walk on a leash? Isn’t that crazy? Is it even possible?

For starters, it’s not crazy at all. Many pet parents have adopted the practice of taking their cats for a walk out with the help of a leash – just like a dog owner would do. In fact, it’s a great idea.

Cats, especially indoor cats, feel the need to explore, play, and sniff around, in the wilderness.

Unfortunately, your kitty won’t get the chance to use its instincts and to face adventurous challenges when its main source of adventure is climbing the cupboards or balancing its body on the backs of some chairs.

Of course, the outdoors pose a large variety of danger to kitties. Fleas, diseases, poisonous plants and weeds, traffic, and even bigger predators always present a risk factor. But should you deprive your kitty from the joy of exploring the outside world when you can safely take it on a walk? Of course you shouldn’t!

How To Prepare For Walking Your Cat

Step One: Prepare Yourself…Lots Of Patience!

Prepare yourself with lots of patience. Cat training is not an easy task whether it comes to the litter box, the walks, the scratching posts, or anything else.

Felines are quite capricious by nature and they will do as they please. They won’t reward you with comprehension and obedience if you decide to punish them and they won’t understand your methods the way a dog would.

Patience, positive reinforcement, treats, and time are essential when it comes to training your cat, especially if you want to teach it to walk on a leash.

Step Two: Get The Right Equipment

The next crucial step is to equip yourself and your kitty for the upcoming outdoor adventures. This means purchasing proper cat equipment – leashes, harnesses, ID tags. Unlike dogs, cats are flexible and they can easily wriggle out of their collars or break away from their leashes. Thus, it’s important to get products specially designed for cats. We reviewed the best harnesses and leashes here.

You’ll definitely need to get harnesses or jackets, because you can’t walk your kitty on a leash attached to its collar. A feline’s neck is so gentle that it can easily get injured if you pull it on a leash.

Steps To Start Training Your Cat To Walk On A Leash

Step One: Introduce The Harness/Leash

First, you’ll need to introduce the harness and the leash to your cat. Allow the cat to sniff and reward it with some food or a kitty treat. This way the cat will grasp the idea that being around the harness and the leash is a positive thing. Leave the harness around the kitty’s food bowls or its bed for the upcoming several days.

Step Two: Try It On

Now that your cat is accustomed to the sight and the presence of the harness, it’s time to try it on.

Slowly put the harness on your cat and give it treats. If your kitty doesn’t seem to like it from the start, take it off and repeat the previous step, then try to put it on again and keep giving treats.

Step Three: Walk Around The House

Once the harness is fastened, make a path out of tiny bits of food or treats to see if your cat wants to walk around in its harness.

Don’t worry if things don’t go the right way from the very beginning. Cat training can be risky, but if you’re patient and reward your feline furball for its efforts, it will get used to the harness.

Step Four: Short Walk Out Of The Home

If your furry pal is feeling comfortable enough to walk on a leash inside the safety of your home, it’s time to take it outside. If you’re living in a noisy area with lots of busy traffic and other types of loud noises, don’t walk your cat there. Try going to a quieter place. Equip yourself with more treats and remember that patience is the key.

Make sure your cat doesn’t lick or eat anything on the ground, and stay away from trees. If your kitty doesn’t want to walk and is trying to stay still or to wriggle itself out of the harness, go to a different spot and try once again.

Step Five: Go For A Real Walk!

At long last, you’re ready! Go out for a normal walk after building up smaller, shorter walks. Enjoy! Your kitty will have so much fun!

Verbal praises, gentle strokes, treats, and other types of positive reinforcement are crucial if you want to teach your feline pal to walk on a leash. Make sure to keep it safe and to always choose a different setting in order to provide a truly adventurous outdoor experience for your pet.

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Emily Parker
 

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

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Connie Cook - November 20, 2018

Hi Emily, I did try this leash thing with my cat when I first adopted him at about 1 yr old. Not for walking outside, but to be able to allow him on the balcony with my other older cat age 7. My biggest fear was he’d jump over the railing from the 2nd floor of my condo. I used a flexi leash and made sure I held onto it when he was out. If he made any attempts at jumping up to the railing, I took him back in. The next year, I let him wear the collar and left the leash trailing. (He walked around like he was pulling a ball and chain!). A few months later, after no escape attempts he only wore the harness. Mind you I was always there. Fast forward to 5 years later, both my cats go on the balcony and I leave the door open for about an hour depending on weather. They love the catnip plant and catgrass there. Mind you, I live in Canada. When there’s snow on the balcony they leave a few footprints and dash inside in less than 10 minutes.

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