Training a cat to walk on a leash can be tough, especially if training an older cat for the first time.
The majority of cats can be trained on a harness and leash.
We stress MOST cats, not all. Even if you're unsure it definitely doesn't hurt to try.
Below, we have some great tips to help you and get your cat exploring whilst on a leash and harness. If you have any questions comment below and we'll get back to you.
1 - Purchase a harness and leash not a collar and leash. Connecting a lead to a standard collar may lead to problems when taking them out.
These problems include your cat fitting into tiny spaces which may result in the collar getting caught or them getting the collar off.
We have leash and harness sets which is perfect for training your cat to walk here at The Pampered Pet. Click link to view.
2 - Start slow, take baby steps and expect setbacks and problems.
Some people may be surprised to find that cats actually respond really well to verbal praise, food treats and physical praise (head scratches & pats).
Do your training sessions just before mealtimes as cats will respond better to treat incentivising when they are hungry.
3 - Before going outside, put the harness on your cat to get them comfortable with it. If they move in the harness give them a treat after their first couple of steps. This could be both food treats and praising (pats, rubs etc). Continue to give them treats if they continue moving.
If they don't move at first and drop to the ground, continue to monitor and if they move (even slightly) give them a treat.
If your cat seems to be incredibly uneasy in their harness take it off them and give them a treat as a peace offering.
If this happens, slowly integrate the harness into their life. Leaving the harness near their food or favourite nap spot is a good idea. This gets them comfortable seeing it and they then associate it with good things.
You can also hold the harness and a few treats and if your cat sniffs the harness/treats, give them a treat.
Once they've associated the harness with good things, try just wearing the harness again and incentivising.
4 - Once your cat is walking around their harness normally it is now time to go outside. Each cat will progress through each step differently. It is important that if your cat looks uncomfortable, don't push the issue and go back a step.
Things that may scare your cat when going outside are traffic sounds, dogs etc. If you live in a busy area it may be best to take them to a quieter area, especially for their first time.
When exploring outside take baby steps and don't forget to incentivise when your cat gets more adventurous.
5 - Make sure your cat adventures but also make sure they are safe. Tree climbing for leashed cats is too dangerous. Always make sure your cat is supervised whilst on the leash. Never tie the leash to something as cats can get spooked easily.
6 - Expect setbacks!
Training a cat to walk outside is not easy. If they are struggling at a certain step, go back a step to the last thing they were comfortable with. Unless your cat is in danger, resist the urge to pick them up if something spooks them. It is much better for their confidence overall if you leave them on the ground. Everything is a learning curve for both you and your cat.
Good luck and if you have a question or comment leave them below! Also, sign up below to get more great blog posts like this!
Thanks for reading,
The Pampered Pet