Training Cats to Walk on a Leash; Though it may not seem like it at first, cats are able to be trained to walk on a leash. Besides providing exercise and an outlet of energy, walking on a leash can be very stimulating and exciting for your cat because there are so many new sights, sounds and smells outside to explore. While it is usually easier to train kittens because they are more likely to accept a new skill, almost any cat can be trained to successfully walk on a leash.
Overall, it is important to have patience. It could take your cat more than a few weeks to be fully comfortable while walking on a leash. However, it should be an enjoyable experience for both you and your cat, as well as a great way to bond.
Acquire the Supplies: Walking your cat does require a few things. First you need a harness for you cat. The harness you choose should be specifically designed for your kitten or cat. Make sure the leash attachment is located on your cat’s back when it is on. Also, make sure you get a harness that has adjustable straps so it can be fitted to your cat’s exact measurements. Never use a collar to take your cat on a walk. A collar is easily slipped out of and can cause neck injuries or strangulation if your cat escapes while on the leash.
Next you will need a leash. The best options provide your cat with enough room to explore but keeps him or her close to you in case a problem arises. Cats can be scared very easily so make sure you have a sturdy leash that can handle when they pull or try to get away.
Get Your Cat Used to the Harness/Leash: A new leash and harness can be a scary and confusing sight for you cat. Try to get your cat accustomed to both by leaving the harness and leash in places they eat or sleep. That way your cat is more likely to associate the new harness and leash with positive experiences. This also gives your cat the opportunity to sniff and become familiar with the new objects. Make sure you praise your cat and give treats if he or she is responding positively.
If your cats seems OK with the harness and leash being in his or her environment, it is time to try putting the harness on. Some people put it on just before mealtime so the cat associates the harness with a positive experience like eating. Another method to make your comfortable is to provide them with plenty of praise and a few treats. You could also try distracting your cat once it is on by using one of his or her favorite toys.
In most cases, you should give your cat a few days to get used to the harness before attaching the leash. Once you are certain your cat is comfortable wearing a harness, it is time to attach the leash. Place your cat in a room without a lot of things to get stuck on and attach the leash to the harness. Let your cat walk around with the leash dragging to get used to the idea of being pulled. Do not hold the leash just yet, to avoid scaring you cat and turning him or her off of the whole idea, and supervise your cat the entire time the leash is on. Let your cat do this step for a few days to ensure he or she is ready to be walked.
Walk Indoors First: Before you move outdoors where there are countless distractions and a lot of things that could alarm or scare your cat, start by walking him or her indoors. You can start this step by just picking up the end of the leash that is dragging as your cat is wandering around and following behind closely. Try not to restrict or dictate where your cat is going while on the leash.
After a few days of following your cat around while holding the leash, it is time try try and get your cat to come to you while on the leash. Call to your cat in a calm and inviting manner while slightly pulling on the leash to make him or her come to you- treats can also be helpful. Make sure you are not forcing your cat because that could make the whole experience of walking on a leash a negative one for him or her.
Start Easing Outdoors: If your cat seems to be adjusting well to each step, it is time to move outdoors. A cat that has never been outdoors may be nervous at first and it could take some coaxing to get him or the through the door. Once you get outdoors, let your cat explore. Follow him or her around as the get acquainted with everything outside. After more and more times outside, your feline friend will be a natural at walking on a leash with you.