On any given day, you can see dozens of people walking their dogs around the neighborhood. When was the last time you saw someone walking a cat?
While leash training your cat might not be as well-known as with a dog, cats can benefit from training. Some cats love walking on a leash, and today we’re going to discuss how you can leash train your cat.
Leash Training Your Cat
How to Pick a Collar or Harness for your Cat
Even if you’ve never leash trained your cat before, they likely have a collar. A collar lets you make sure your cat can be identified if they ever escape from your home. They also sometimes serve the purpose of jingling if they ever try to sneak up on you.
Most cats would be able to escape from a collar on a leash. This is because dogs and cats are just built differently. While most dogs would not be able to get out of a collar, most cats can. This is why a harness is recommended. A well-fitting harness will ensure your cat remains safe while out on a leash.
When you try a new harness on, it should be tight but not too tight. If you can fit two fingers under the harness, it is just right. The harness will be too tight or too loose if you can fit more or fewer fingers under it. You should get a harness that is meant for cats and made to be adjustable. This will allow you to tailor the fit perfectly for your cat. Make sure the harness you choose doesn’t hinder your cat’s movement at all and is lightweight. This will ensure your cat can get comfortable while walking in their harness.
What Leash is Right?
Once you have your harness picked out, you need to pick up a leash. There are many different leashes you can consider, but the best choice if your cat is new to leash training is a lightweight leash that’s about 4 to 6 feet long.
Retractable leashes can work, but they might cause your cat some anxiety if they are not used to being on a leash yet. Your best bet for when you begin training is simply a 4 to 6-foot lead.
Once you decide to start leash training your cat, there will be a short break-in period. Your cat has to get used to wearing the harness. They are used to wearing little more than a collar, so putting something that covers most of their body is going to feel different.
When you decide to start leash training, you shouldn’t even put it on your cat. You need to let them see it and smell it. You should also try treating your cat when they show interest in the harness and leash. You need your cat to get used to the harness. Once they seem comfortable with it, then you can try putting their harness on.
Let your cat try the harness on for a few minutes at a time. Be sure to praise them and treat them while they’re trying the harness on. Remove the harness after a few minutes. Try to increase the time you leave the harness on each time you try. Eventually, your cat will be able to wear the harness without a problem. Once your cat is used to wearing the harness by itself, you can try adding the leash.
Attach the leash to the D-ring on your cat’s harness and just let your cat drag the harness around the house. If your cat seems scared of the leash, you can pick it up and hold it, so it doesn’t drag. Some cats are scared by the dragging leash, so you’ll want to minimize any anxiety they have.
Once your cat is used to wearing the harness and the leash, you can try taking them outside.
Keep Your Cat Safe
Going outside can be jarring for your cat, so make sure you keep a close eye on them and don’t force them to do anything they don’t want to do. Try to hold the leash freely so your cat can explore a bit. Never pull them by the leash, but a gentle tug to get their attention is ok.
Be sure you have treats and lots for praise for your cat. Treats let them know they’re doing well. Keep your trips outside short. Each time you go out, you can try to increase the amount of time you go for a walk, but always be mindful that you’re not pushing your cat too hard. They will start associating the leash with negative emotions.
In Summary: Leash Training Your Cat
Leash training your cat will require some effort, but it’s worthwhile if you want to take your cat outdoors safely. Here’s a summary of how to best leash train your cat:
- Buy your cat a well-fitting collar and harness.
- Choose a short, lightweight leash.
- Get your cat comfortable wearing the collar, harness, and leash.
- When outdoors with your cat, bring lots of rewards for good behavior.
- Don’t go too fast. Keep your outdoor excursions short until your cat is ready for more time.