Leash training is not only good for leisure walk in the park with your kitty, it is also beneficial for when you are visiting the vet or traveling. On top of that, being on leash makes it safer for them to have more steps without causing you anxiety. It’s an overall fun and healthy activity for kitties‘ wellbeing.
Although it is always easier to leash train a kitten as they are more accepting when introduced to new training, it’s not to say training an adult cat is incredibly difficult. They can be a little defiant, but with time and positive association to wearing the leash and walking on it, we can train them successfully as well.
All the same, felines are their own individuals with different reactions and acceptance. Some cats prefer to stay inside because of their own personality or due to age and health. But you can always try and see if your furry friends will love the experience of walking on a leash.
1. Get a harness that fits
For you kitty to join you on adventures beyond the comfort of your house, you will first need to put them on a harness so they won’t run to places you don’t want them to.
A harness that you purchase should wrap around your kitty comfortably while at the same time stay secure despite an aggressive movement. To avoid purchasing a dozen harnesses until you find the one, get your cat’s accurate measurement (around the chest and around the middle right behind their front legs) before making a trip to the pet shop.
They are two types of harness, the mesh or classic version. Most cats walk better in a mesh harness as it has more padding. But if you’re on budget, classic harness works just as well when it comes to training your cats walking on leash.
2. Harness introduction
We need to first make the harness that your kitty will be wearing an item that she relates with positive experience. To start, you can put the harness beside their food bowl while your cat eats or by holding the harness for them to sniff, and reward with a treat as soon as they do. It is also a good idea to place the harness close to their vicinity, preferably their most frequented spot.
3. Practice wearing the harness
Now that they are familiar with the harness, slip it on them, without fastening. Giving them treats will provide as a distraction will letting them associate it with positive experience. This can also be done by wearing the harness on them just before mealtime. Enjoying their meal will be the best distraction to the new sensation on their body, thus not focusing to remove it.
Implement this for a few days straight, until your kitty can be in a calm and content state while wearing the harness. Once they are comfortable, you can then fasten the harness, then slowly start adjusting it to fit their body. Make sure it’s not too tight that laying down is uncomfortable. A finger or two should be able to pass through, but no more than that. Otherwise, your cat can remove themselves from it when feeling threatened.
For a few minutes, let them move around with the harness. After that, give some treats as a reward. Practice this for a longer period only if they get comfy. If you notice them trying to bite the harness or shake their body free, take it off. Try it again later with their favourite food.
When first wearing a harness, your cat will walk weird if not refuse to walk at all. It’s a normal reaction as their body is not used to having something wrapping around their back. With time, they will slowly get used to the sensation.
4. Clasp the leash on
Have your cat in an environment in your house where there is least possibility for the leash to be stuck to furnitures. For a start, let them drag the leash little by little as you feed them some treats or entertain them with toys. Some cats find the leash dragging behind them alarming. If you come across this situation, it’s okay to hold the leash while you follow them wandering around the area.
Let your cat settle on wandering with the leash on. When they pass that, only then it is a green light for you to gently guide them. Put subtle pressure on the leash while calling them to you. The moment they turn, give them a treat. If they are familiar with clicker training, you can use this to affirm and enhance their good behaviour.
We want this to be a pleasant activity. If your cat tries to wriggle out, bring it a step back. Follow their pace. It’s okay to take this slow. Because sooner or later, they will eventually fall in love with the harness.
5. Move the location outdoor
Cats who spend their time purely indoor are more likely to be wary and anxious when you bring them outside. For these kitties especially, it is not compulsory that you bring them 5 kilometer from home. You can introduce them to the backyard as it provides more security and gives them relaxed confidence. This is better if your backyard has a fence covering the perimeter.
Firstly, pick up your kitty with the harness already on them. You want to carry them to a quiet area. Stay by their side, and follow wherever it is they are curious to explore. Maintain a loose hold on the leash. Do not tug them to go somewhere else.
After they are okay with walking outdoor, you can begin preparing for instances of freaking out episodes. Have with you a thick blanket or towel that you can wrap and pick up your cat with, at the same time preventing your extremities and limbs from their reach. Keep their first couple of trips very close to the house door. This will let them know that they are able to seek refuge back into their haven whenever they feel unsafe. This won’t be necessary after they are fine with being out for a longer period. Nonetheless, have the blanket in hand while you cover more distance, so if something happens, you can quickly purrito them before heading back home.
Walking a cat is unlike walking a dog. As much as they enjoy a long walk with you, they also love to stop and sniff every nook and crannies in their vicinity, rolling in the grass as well as dozing under the sun. Just like inside the house, pay attention to their needs and follow their comfort.
We have more tips when leash training your cat!
1. Never let your cat walk out the door on their own. Even with the leash on. Always carry them no matter what.
This is so that your cat won’t be dashing to the door when they don’t have the leash. However, if they have the habit of walking out anytime they wish, it is highly probable that they will do it at other inconvenience times as well.
2. Never wear the harness on them (and take them for a walk) when they pester for it
Your cat will cry at the door, demanding to go out. At times like this, keep your resolve and not yield to their plea and sad eyes. Or else, they will learn the cry as a rewarding behaviour which will cause them to do it a lot more often.
3. Do not let your cat outside without a guardian
Never make it a habit to tie them on a leash somewhere and leave with no one to look out for them. Even just for a minute, there is a possibility your curious kitty can entangle themselves in the leash which can lead to an injury. This is very dangerous as they are unable to escape or ward off any danger coming their way.
4. Make the trip short 😉
It’s natural that you want your cat to enjoy the outside world as much as they want to. But to keep the excitement there, shorten their venture, so the next leash walking will be as thrilling as the previous one!
Now, waking up every morning will start with your cats waiting by your door meowing for their favourite walk! However, if your cat is still not comfortable to walk with the leash on after months of training, there are always pet strollers that can allow them to enjoy seeing and smelling nature. Leash training is amazing with the freedom it gives to adventurous kitties as they feel the wind blowing in their fur. But it inarguably is not for all cats. Some tolerate the slight restraint on their body, others prefer to run around without a leash nor harness, but knowing to stay by our side. Most dislike both. However, we believe it should not matter for responsible and loving cat guardians. After all, our dearest felines’ comfort and happiness is more important than a sole leash training ❤️️
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