Some indoor cats like to dash outside whenever possible. They love taking in all the excitement outdoors and getting some fresh air. As we know, it can be dangerous for our indoor cats who are not used to being outside. If you are willing to take the time, you can teach your cat to walk on a leash. While it isn’t easy and some cats take to it more than others, it can be done with time and practice.
First, you need to purchase a harness and leash designed for cats
A harness (not a collar) should always be your first choice for cats. The harness should be snug fitting, not tight, with the least attachment toward the middle. Make sure that the harness is not too loose or your cat will slither through pretty quickly and be off! The leash should be long enough so your cat can wander a bit, but avoid the long leash on retractable string that we use for dogs.
Practice indoors and let your cat get used to the feeling of a harness
You need to get your cat used to wearing the harness and leash before going outside. Put the harness on your cat, making sure it’s snug but not too tight. The second you’ve got the harness on, before you let go of her, give your kitty a treat. If she takes a step in the harness, give her a treat, praise her and pat her on the head. Repeat the treating and praising if she continues to move about in her harness.
If your cat hates the harness and runs to hide, remove the harness and give a treat as a peace offering. Try leaving the harness near your cat’s favorite napping spot for a few days to get her used to seeing it in places she associates with good things. Rub your scent on the harness or leave a t-shirt with your scent next to it.
Keep praising your kitty as she gets used to the harness
As your cat learns to tolerate the harness and leash for longer periods, give her a constant stream of praise, head rubs and food treats (not too many so your kitty doesn’t gain weight!) while she’s wearing it. When she’s done with a training session, meaning she’s dropped to the ground, her tail is switching, remove the harness immediately. You want to end the session with your cat feeling confident and in control.
Next step outside with the harness slowly and carefully
Once your cat is walking around in his harness and leash in a normal manner, you can step outside the door. Depending on your kitty’s tolerance, you might spend the next few weeks getting down the front walk or onto the grass. Or, if your kitty likes it out there, you could be walking in a week or so. If your neighborhood has a lot of traffic, dogs, or other distractions, try taking your cat to a quieter area where she’s less exposed to frightening sights and sounds.
Now try to take your cat out for a longer walk
If your cat is willing, taking your kitty a little further each outing. When your kitty’s eagerly exploring a new area with his tail up, take another baby step. Make sure that your cat doesn’t pick up anything in her mouth or lick anything, even the lawn (could have pesticide). And no tree climbing for leashed cats. It’s too dangerous on many levels.
NEVER tie your cat to a tree or post and leave your kitty outside alone even for a few minutes. If something spooks your cat, she could get tangled in the leash. If she’s threatened by another animal or even a person, she can’t get away. Your kitty should never be outside unattended for any reason.
Setbacks are common when teach your cat to walk your cat on a leash
We know how fickle cats can be. One day, your cat might be fine walking out on a leash and the next day, he or she won’t budge. Just go back to the last place when your cat was comfortable and move forward with baby steps. And unless your kitty is in harm’s way, resist the urge to pick up your cat if something spooks him. It’s better for your cat’s confidence if you can leave him on the ground at his own pace.
With time, effort, practice and a LOT of patience, you can get your cat walking on a leash.
published March 8, 2017 on Petpav.com