How to Train a Cat to Walk on a Leash
Are you tired of leaving Fluffy at home while you go on adventures? Other than keeping your feline friend in a cat backpack, stroller, or carrying case, a leash is the safest way to keep them close to you when you leave your home. You may wonder, can a cat be trained to walk on a leash? While the answer is yes, it’s important to remember that not all cats are suited for the great outdoors, and you shouldn’t push your cat if they aren’t comfortable.
Choosing a collar or harness for leash training your cat
Leash training a cat is different from leash training a dog, and requires different equipment. Make sure you use products that are specifically designed for cats. You should never use a dog harness or chain or flexi-type leash. Also, ensure you have plenty of treats to reward your kitty for their progress! You should know that walking your cat on a leash won’t be a cake walk at first, but practice makes purr-fect!
Picking your harness
You want the harness to fit snugly, but not too tightly. The rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit a finger or two under the harness. Once you have the right gear, you can begin to train your cat to join you on all sorts of outdoor adventures.
Step 1: Introduce your cat to the harness
Let your cat try on the harness without the leash attached. The key to the harness winning your cat’s heart is to make it a positive experience, aka associate it with food. You can begin by leaving the harness by your cat’s food dish, or holding out the harness for your cat to investigate, followed by a treat reward.
New noises can be scary to some skittish kitties, so practice snapping the harness together or ripping the Velcro to get your cat accustomed to the new sounds. Now that your furry friend is aware of the harness, slip it on them, but don’t fasten it.
Repeat this process while gradually increasing the amount of time the harness is worn.
Step 2: Get your cat comfortable walking on a leash with no tension indoors
After your cat is comfortable with the harness, attach the leash. Let your cat walk around as you follow closely with the leash hanging loosely. After a few moments, remove the harness and leash and repeat this process for a couple of days until your feline friend is relaxed and freely walking.
Step 3: Get your cat comfortable walking on a leash with tension indoors
While you closely watch, allow your cat to drag the leash behind them while they freely move around your home. This will allow your cat to get comfortable with a small amount of tension in the leash. Never leave a leash or harness on an unsupervised cat.
Step 4: Walk your cat on an indoor stroll
Put the harness and leash on your cat, and after they have walked a bit, try to slowly lead your cat in another direction. Motivate your cat with treats when they follow you or walk on their own.
Step 5: Venture outside
Select a dry day with nice weather for your first outing. Start by walking your cat to the door, opening the door, and encouraging them to go outside. You can toss a treat just outside the door to entice your kitty to step outside. If your cat’s body language shows they are frightened or hesitant, do not force him to go out. Instead, stop for the day and try again later. Make sure to bring treats for your cat when walking outside. Keep the time spent outside to just a few moments to ensure it ends on a paw-sitive note!