Can You Leash Train a Cat?

Orange cat on a purple leash.

If you’re a cat lover, you’ve probably wondered if leash training cats is possible. It’s only natural to want your cat to enjoy the great outdoors firsthand, and by leash training your cat, you open up a whole new world for him to explore—safely. Plus, exercise provides important physical and mental stimulation, which is important for all pets, particularly as they age.

Cats on leashes may not be commonplace, but our team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates wants you to know that it’s entirely possible—with the right tips and tricks, and a lot of patience! While leash training may go smoother with a younger cat, leash training can happen at any age. Check out these helpful strategies from our team. 

Cat Leash Training in 6 Steps

  1. Purchase a cat-specific harness and leave it beside his bed, toy box, or other favorite spot. You want him to sniff it, get used to it, and learn that it’s nothing to fear. 
  2. After he seems familiar with his harness, put it on. Reward him with his favorite treat. Wait just a minute or so and remove the harness. That’s it for the day!
  3. Each day, leave the harness on a bit longer—always providing tasty rewards, praise, and pets. 
  4. When he no longer seems to care about wearing the harness, attach the leash and let him drag it around inside the house, so he gets used to feeling it behind him.
  5. Start holding the leash and following your cat around the house. You can gently try to guide him in a certain direction, and provide a treat and praise if he follows your lead.
  6. When he seems comfortable walking around in his harness and leash, take him outside. Don’t go far, take your time, and just let him explore. Don’t expect him to be walked like a dog; your cat will likely be the one doing most of the leading!

Cat Leashes Safety

Here are some additional safety tips to protect your cat when he’s on a leash. 

  • Collars are cat-walking no-nos. They’re too easy to escape from. Purchase a harness made just for cats. 
  • Use a fixed-length leash: 4 feet is optimal. Avoid retractable leashes.
  • DO NOT pull hard on the leash or drag your cat.
  • Avoid areas where you know other animals are present.
  • Be mindful of the local flora and know which plants shouldn’t be nibbled
  • Microchipping is a must for outdoor cat adventurers.
  • Make sure your cat has an updated ID tag. 
  • Keep your cat up-to-date on vaccines and parasite prevention.

We’re Here to Help

Leash training a cat is a marathon—not a sprint. Be patient and enjoy the one-on-one time with your cat, even if you never make it out of the house. Please contact us if you have other questions about leash training your cat, or to schedule a checkup.