At first when you think about walking a cat on a leash or in a harness, the whole idea seems a little counter-intuitive. However, before you reject the notion, consider that cat’s find pleasure in being outdoors. The sight of plants, the sound of birds and the smell of flowers all combine to create a stimulating experience, that would be ideal to add to your cat’s routine—especially if your cat is a house cat.
However, cat’s aren’t exactly the type of pets that are eager to please. When you present them with a leash or harness, there may be some hesitation. Also, if they rarely spend time outside, they may lack the confidence to be walked; Nevertheless, cats can be trained to walk with a leash and harness at ages of 8 weeks and up.
The process can take anywhere from a few minutes, to a few days—perhaps more depending on the cat. So, if you’re really interested in training your cat to be walked on a leash, below are a few suggestions that might help.
Introducing The harness
- For safety reasons, it’s ideal to to begin training your cat indoors
- Get a harness, let your cat smell and play with it for familiarity
- Consider rubbing something with your cat’s scent on the harness
- You can also try spraying the harness with pheromones
Fitting The Harness
- Soon after, properly fit your cat into the harness
- While fitting the harness, distract her with a treat
- Make sure the harness is comfortable
- Allow your cat to wear the harness for a while
Walking Your Cat Indoors
- Let her play while the harness is on her body
- Allow your cat to drag the leash
- Do this until she is used to the harness on her body
- Slowly begin walking your cat around the house
- Give your cat treats, when she is doing what’s expected
Note: If your cat tries to get away, apply gentle tension, loosen the tension when your cat is relaxed. The idea is to calmly walk your cat, without erratic behavior.
First Steps Outside
When you feel as though your cat is familiar enough with the harness & leash, you can begin walking your cat outside. Before you go outside, make sure the harness is comfortably fitted.
- The first attempt should be in a quiet, enclosed area(fenced yard)
- There shouldn’t be startling activity in the enclosed area
- While you’re holding the leash, open the outside door
- Allow your cat to sniff into the direction she wants to go
- Practice walking your cat around the yard until she is confident
Note: If you don’t have a quiet setting, consider driving to a park where there’s very little people.
When your cat feels confident enough to be walked on a leash—in a small enclosed space—you can begin to make plans to go for a walk in the neighborhood. It’s possible that your cat may grow to really enjoy walking outside and try to dart outside the moment the door opens. It’s important to train your cat to understand, that she can go outside, only when she’s being walked by you—while she’s wearing the harness.
Alternatives To A Leash
If your cat doesn’t like the harness & leash, that’s fine. There’ll be some cat’s that just won’t be into it. Please don’t force your cat, to do something she won’t want to do. Consider looking into other options, that can give your cat exposure to the outside world.
- You can buy or build a Catio—an outside cat enclosure
- Consider using Cat Fencing, to keep your cat from escaping the yard
- You can push your cat around in a Cat Stroller
In conclusion, the ability to walk your cat, can open up a whole new world for her, especially if she’s a house cat. Most cats enjoy the stimuli nature has to offer and the bonus is, that it’s a good way for the both of you to get some exercise.
However, it’s important to understand, that it’s not like walking a dog. The chances are, you’ll be close to home and not walking great distances; but the experience will be just as beneficial to your cat. That being said, with a little patience, the right tools and proper training, you can, get your cat out of the house for some fresh air. Thanks for reading.