If you think it’s witchcraft to leash train a cat, think again! Leash training a cat is possible if you take the appropriate steps and plan ahead. That said, one shouldn’t think of leash training a cat as a simple task. Unlike dogs, cats have a strong mind of their own and usually don’t strive to please their owner.
Moreover, their natural behavior is that of a lone predator and any sort of company when being on a “mouse stakeout” goes against their nature. This is all to say that teaching cats how to walk comfortably on a leash a lot harder, but not impossible.
Reasons to Leash Train a Cat
Leash training for cats can be a good idea for a number of reasons, such as:
- Your indoor cat seems bored and but your neighborhood is too dangerous for your cat to explore by itself.
- You don’t want your cat to catch a disease by exploring the outdoors by itself.
- You want to train your cat to go on road trips or plane rides with you.
How to Start Leash Training a Cat
Unlike dogs, cats don’t have a strong neck and attaching the leash onto their collar can cause serious injury. Fortunately, somebody already came up with a solution: The cat harness.
In order to start leash training your cat, you will need to get a harness for your kitty such as this one:
Step 1: Put on the Cat Harness
Now, with the possibility of imminent cat “freak-out” being rather high, gently put on the harness. If you were successful on your first trial, congratulations! If your cat is susceptible to being bribed, now is a good moment to distract your little tiger with a well deserved treat (don’t forget to treat yourself while you are at it–you earned it!
In the beginning, leave the harness on for 20 minutes or so before taking it off again. Repeat the process the next day, leaving the harness in place for a bit longer. Over the course of a week, extend the harness-time to 2-3 hours.
Step 2: Attach a Leash
When your cat is comfortable wearing the harness for 2-3 hours, it’s time to attach the leash to the harness. Don’t try to go outside just yet. Instead, let your cat drag the leash around for a bit. Then, use the leash to guide your kitty to some treat. This will associate being on a leash with a positive outcome (the treat).
Step 3: It’s time to venture outside!
After repeating this for a couple of times, it’s time to go outside! Keep in mind that, even if you were successful up to this point, your mission might still fail. Don’t get discouraged – this is normal! If your cat is too anxious or shy and would rather climb up your legs to hide under your shirt than face the great outdoors, it’s time to abort the mission for now and repeat again later.
If your cat is doing ok being outside on a leash, don’t drag him or her around. Instead, let your cat explore independently. Of course, you will need to balance these moments of independence with any safety concerns you have for your pet and yourself. Limit the first walk to 5-10 minutes and extend the time gradually on future walks.
Step 4: Tell us Your Story
Don’t forget to congratulate yourself for accomplishing this feat. It’s not easy to pull off. If you failed, don’t take it too hard. Not every cat is meant to be walked on a leash. If you are dead set on having a pet that you can leash train and you have not been successful to leash train your cat, you may want to consider getting a dog 😉 Dog training tips can be found here.
In either case, you can share your accomplishments or failures in the comment section below. If you liked this post, consider sharing it with your friends. Take care!
Food for Thought: Should you be picking up after your cat if (s)he goes #2?