How to leash train a cat

Find your cat a comfortable harness, then gradually train him to walk on a leash if you want him to join you on outside excursions, even if they are simply in the backyard or on the porch. Not only will leash walking be useful when you’re outside, but it will also be helpful when travelling or taking your cat to the veterinarian.

Additionally, it’s a great method for your cat to exercise and can help with behavioural issues brought on by boredom. Also, if your cat appreciates it, it might be enjoyable for both of you.

For advice on how to leash train a cat your cat, continue reading if you believe your cat would benefit from leash training.

Most cats can be taught to walk on a leash, but certain cats’ movements show that they are curious and trying to do new things like putting on a harness and going for long walks in airy places can change their mood. The accurate time to introduce your cat to the harness is when he is a kitten since he will naturally be more accepting of it. However, if you are patient and make leash training enjoyable for your cat, older cats can also learn to walk on a leash.


Not all cats are suitable for outside exploration or walking on a leash. Due to their age, health, or personality, some cats may never feel at ease outside or on a leash, so you should never push your pet beyond his comfort zone. Going on an inside adventure can still support your cat’s ongoing happiness, activity, and stimulation!


Time to Introducing the harness

Making your cat’s experience with a harness enjoyable—which entails feeding it—is the key to adjusting your cat to it. You can start by placing the harness next to your cat’s food bowl or by just putting it out for him to sniff before giving him goodies.

Some cats find unfamiliar noises disturbing, so practise fastening or releasing the Velcro on the harness to help your feline companion become used to them.


Try it on

When you feel like your cat is getting familiar with the harness, put it on him without fastening it yet. Give your cat more treats to help them connect the harness with pleasant memories as a diversion.

You can fasten the harness and try adjusting the fit if your cat is at ease at this stage. There shouldn’t be enough for more than one or two fingers beneath the harness. Remember that terrified cats tend to back out of harnesses, and you don’t want your cat to escape from you outside.


After a short while:

  1. Remove the harness and provide another food reward.
  2. Follow this procedure for a few days while observing how your cat responds to the harness. If he looks at ease, leave it on a little while longer, but if he becomes upset, offer him some food as a diversion and remove the harness.
  3. Before your cat has an adverse reaction, try again later with a nicer treat, like some tasty canned food or tuna, and then take off the harness.


For the first few times they wear a harness, it’s typical for cats to freeze up, refuse to walk, or walk quite awkwardly. The cat will always take some time to become used to having something on his back because it’s likely never happened before.


Attach the leash

Your cat may take many days or weeks to become accustomed to wearing the harness and walking normally, but once they have, it’s time to attach the leash. (Again, it’s OK if your cat doesn’t get used to the harness; instead, go on an indoor excursion!)

Attach the leash after bringing your cat into a space where he won’t be tempted to grab it on any objects in the room, such as furniture. While you give him treats and play with him with toys, you might wish to let the leash dangle behind him. However, some cats might find a dangling leash unsettling. Holding the leash and allowing your cat to roam freely is best if this is the case.


Practise trailing your cat about your house while holding the leash loosely after it feels comfortable. Throughout this process, give out lots of sweets and compliments.

After practising on both parts, it’s time to start softly leading your cat. Push the leash a little while calling your cat to you. Give him a treat if he succeeds. You can use a clicker to reinforce that he displayed a desired behaviour if you’ve already trained him to do so.


Going outside

Take things carefully if your cat’s only experience of the outside has been through the window because he can be on high alert the first time you take him outside.

First, take your harnessed cat outside to a peaceful location. Avoid letting your cat leave the house while she’s on a leash so she doesn’t develop the habit when she’s not.

When he’s ready to explore, let him decide by remaining by his side. Follow your cat while maintaining a loose leash, but don’t push him further than he’s ready to.

Remember that walking a cat is not the same as walking a dog. While your cat might enjoy long walks with you, it’s more likely that he will explore your yard and take a nap in the sun.

Pay attention to what your cat enjoys doing; don’t push him outside of it. Your cat is the one making decisions, just like at home.


Additional leash-walking tips

  • Don’t let your leashed cat walk out the door on his own. Carry him outside every time.
  • When your cat is nagging you for a walk, resist the urge to put the harness on him.
  • Never tie your cat’s leash to anything and leave him when you only intend to be away for a short while. Your cat won’t be able to get away from any oncoming wildlife and might injure himself by becoming caught on the leash.


Read also: How to Get Kittens Not to Bite You?


Choosing a Leash for Your Cat

Lightweight leashes 4 to 6 feet long are ideal for leash-training cats of all sizes. Retractable and longer leashes are OK to use once a cat is trained but stick to a manageable length and leash weight at first.


Let Your Cat Adjust to the Harness

Give your cat time to get used to its new harness once it is fitted properly. Reward your cat for sniffing it with treats. Just keep in mind that each cat is unique and may take a different amount of time to get used to wearing a harness. It may not bother your cat to wear a leash, or it may take them a few days to become used to it. While your cat is in the harness, exercise caution when petting and rewarding it. If your cat is wary of the harness, only put it on for a short period and gradually increase the time it spends wearing it. Become used to wearing the harness for an hour straight. If your cat behaves well while wearing the harness, you can go on to the next phase of leash training.


Teach Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

Continue to hold the leash and let your cat walk freely outside. Coax your cat to walk where you want it to walk using treats or toys. Don’t pull your cat by the leash, but a gentle tug to redirect its attention is OK. You should continuously praise your cat with treats if it is walking in your desired direction.

Over time your cat will get used to the sights, sounds, smells, and experiences of the outdoors and be safe in its harness and leash. This may take several days or weeks for some cats, while others will be more comfortable right away.


Make Sure Your Cat Is Safe

Cats that spend time outdoors are more likely to get fleas, ticks, heartworms, and other parasites. Discuss preventative options with your vet to ensure your cat is safe and protected while enjoying time outside.


Tip Talk! 

Avoid things that may startle your cats, such as busy roads and barking dogs, while outside. Even though a cat may be trained to walk on a leash, different situations may scare it and cause it to fear going on a future walk.

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