One of a dog’s favorite times of the day is when you throw a leash on them and take them out to get into the sunshine. Heck, even if it’s raining, they are likely excited to get out of the house. But what about cats? Learning how to leash train your cat isn’t as difficult as it sounds, and it can lead to many years of enjoyment between the two of you.
What You Need To Leash Train Your Cat
The best part about leash training your cat is that there are very few supplies you’ll need to get the job done. There are really only two things you’ll need to get started:
- A harness specifically meant for use with cats
- A lightweight, preferably nylon or cloth leash
Really, that’s it. A harness and a leash are all you need to get started, but we want to emphasize picking the right harness and leash.
It’s important that you purchase a harness that is meant only for cat use. If you tried to walk your cat using only their collar, you’d probably end up choking them. Cats have a much softer throat than dogs and they can be damaged if you use just their regular collar. A harness that is made for cats is designed to go around the cat’s neck but also around their chest. This helps spread force over more of an area and it helps keep them safe.
The harness should also fit properly. You want it to be snug, but not too tight. You should be able to fit two fingers between the harness and your cat. If you can fit more, tighten it up. If you can’t fit two fingers, then loosen the harness up a bit.
Secondly, you’ll need a leash. It is best that you get a lightweight leash for your cat. This is why we recommend nylon leashes. These are light enough that it won’t bother your cat while walking, but they are also very strong. You can even find elastic leashes that can work for your cat. These leashes have an elastic core that runs through a nylon sleeve. These are a good compromise as they have a bit of give, but they are still as strong as a nylon leash.
How to Leash Train Your Cat
Leash training your cat takes place over a few phases. The first phase is getting your cat used to wearing the harness. You should let your cat sniff at the harness. Maybe you should even put it in places they like to be. Once you decide they’ve had enough time getting used to it, you can try to put it on them. Make sure you praise them when they adjust to the harness. If your cat doesn’t seem to enjoy wearing it, only let them keep it for a few minutes at a time. You can try extending the time they wear it in subsequent sessions.
Once your cat adjusts to wearing the harness, you can try attaching the leash. At first, you should attach the leash and just let your cat walk around your home wearing it. If your cat gets spooked by wearing the leash, you can try holding the leash while they wear it. Some cats do not like to have the leash dragging behind them, so holding it might be a better option for them.
Once your cat seems comfortable with the leash, you can take them outdoors. Head out and let them walk freely. Follow them rather than having them follow you. You can try leading them by using toys or treats, but do not pull them in the direction you want. Most cats will not respond well to a hard tug so try to use other ways to motivate them. It will take time for your cat to get used to the sights and sounds of the outdoors. You should take them on very short walks at first. Possibly only a minute or two at first should be enough. But once they get used to walking, you can extend the time of your walks and let them explore the world.
Leash training your cat can be fun and rewarding, but there are things you should be on the lookout for. Mostly, if your cat is used to being only indoors, you should look out for parasites. Fleas, ticks, heartworms, and other pests are an issue if you are taking your cat outdoors. You should also be cautious of things that scare or startle your cat. Loud sirens, lawnmowers, and even loud cars can spook your cat. Take it slow and your cat should be able to adjust to these sounds.
Leash training your cat is a rewarding experience, and it gives your cat a chance to explore their world in a big way.