leash train your catDogs and cats are like apples and oranges, but they do have some things in common. While it may seem like a cat would never, ever enjoy walking down the street at the other end of leash (attached to a harness, no less), it may be time to shift our collective perceptions. To be sure, creating the opportunity and encouraging your cat to embrace this activity isn’t without its challenges or complications. However, when you decide to properly leash train your cat, the results are highly beneficial.

Exercise in Futility?

People have a widespread misunderstanding that felines detest walking on-leash, but this could be fed by the perception that people walking cats around the neighborhood could be “overdoing” it a bit. Cats are independent creatures, right? They couldn’t possibly be trained to wear a harness and walk on a leash. Wrong!

Simple Steps for Success

Not only can we train cats using positive reinforcement (and a lot of patience), but when you leash train your cat, you build confidence, create socialization opportunities, and reduce stress when traveling together.

Plus, indoor cats who are allowed to walk outside have the bonus of remaining safe while experiencing the great outdoors.

Leash Train Your Cat

To get started, purchase the proper gear. Your cat should have an adjustable harness that hugs the chest and back (not the neck). Leashes should be no longer than 4 feet. Then:

  • Leave these items out near places your cat prefers, like the cat tree, their crate, or even the water or food bowl. Encourage them to investigate the harness and leash.
  • Over a short period of time, place the harness on your cat while offering treats, play time, or other positive rewards.
  • Make sure you do this in a quiet part of the house.
  • Once your cat gets used to wearing the harness around the home, attach the leash to it and slowly move around. Experiment with going in and out or strolling up and down hallways or stairs.
  • Try not to pull the leash or put pressure on it.
  • See if your cat responds to your voice commands.
  • Have minimal expectations. Many cats simply enjoy being outside while others feel the need to dart around. Make it a relaxing, enjoyable experience, and just enjoy taking it all in together.
  • After you’ve graduated to visiting locales away from home, like the park or nearby wooded pathway, scan for other animals that could threaten your cat’s peace of mind or well being.
  • Your cat will want to sample vegetation. Be aware of what’s growing in your neighborhood and what to avoid.
  • Try to keep your cat away from loud, fast traffic, barking dogs, and other cats.
  • Always bring treats, water, and offer lots of praise, ear scratches, and back rubs.
  • Your first few times may require the need for your cat’s travel kennel or crate if they feel overly stressed or frightened. Simply bring it along until you’re confident they don’t need the protection.

Before You Go

Before exposing your cat to various possible parasites or diseases, bring them in for a general wellness exam. We can ensure vaccinations are current, address parasite prevention, and discuss the need for a microchip.

While you leash train your cat, please let us know if you have particular challenges or questions. We’re always here to help!