Find The Right Harness
Choosing the perfect harness may require some trial and error. There are so many harnesses to try now, that purchasing one can be a little tricky, Woodard explains. Making sure that the harness will wrap around your cat or kitten and stay on securely might mean that you actually end up purchasing a couple of harnesses.
Before heading to the pet shop, measure your cat around the front of his chest, and around his middle, just behind his front legs, to be sure you get the right size. Never use just a leash and collar alone, as this may be dangerous to your cats neck and windpipe, according to Woodard.
How To Train A Cat To Walk On A Leash And Harness
With these easy steps you and your cat companion can enjoy outdoor excursions together.
We tend to think that our feline friends would prefer to do nothing all day except lounge in the sun or hide in leftover shoe boxes. This might be the case for the majority of kitties, but some cats actually prefer to have regular outdoor adventures.
Cats that love the opportunity to stretch their furry little legs outside, investigate nature, and go for jaunts around the neighborhood require a prepared owner. It isn’t safe to just let your cat companion wander freely outside, so teaching them to walk on a leash and harness is your best bet to ensure your outside activities are both safe and enjoyable. And luckily, for the brave and active kitty, learning to walk on a harness and leash is simple to do with these handy steps.
Walking The Cat: How To Train Your Cat To Walk On A Leash
We once again extend our thanks to Joe Cooper for providing us with this article. Joe is fostering a cat named Tiger, who spent more than a year here at Blue Cross Animal Hospital. Joe has patiently trained Tiger to walk on a leash and they now enjoy sharing regular explorations their neighbourhood.
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Can Cats Be Taught To Walk On A Leash
Wearing a harness and being confined on a leash does not come spontaneously to cats, vigilant training is needed for a cat to fully accept it. Well socialised, relaxed, and outgoing cats will love going for walks like dogs. Anxious, skittish, or shy cats are not suitable contenders, forcing them to walk on a leash can exacerbate their state of anxiety. Some cats may freeze or flop to the ground the first few training sessions, do not get discouraged, persevere for few days until your cat is used to the harness. Allocate lots of time and patience while keeping plenty of treats on offer. Be prepared to stop training if your cat exhibits signs of stress. If your cat is an adventurous spirit but distressed from leash walks, initially try a walk in a pet carrier/stroller. Some cats will never accept wearing a harness and leash therefore, it is not advocated for every cat.
Putting On The Harness
Once your cat has familiarized with its harness and leash, it is finally time to slip them in but do not fasten the buckles yet. Use more traits or catnip as a distraction and associate the feeling of wearing a harness with positive rewards. It is best to put the harness on before your cats mealtime for a more effective distraction with food.
Do this step for a few days until you can notice that your cat is more comfortable wearing the harness. Once they are used to wearing the harness, it is time to buckle it. Leave the harness on for a few minutes while giving cat treats as a reward for behaving well. Repeat this step for a few more days and monitor your cats reaction.
If your cat seems to be comfortable on a buckled harness, leave it on longer. If you notice that your cat is unsettled, offer food as a distraction and release them from the harness. Repeat the first steps but this time, offer a more enticing treat such as tuna or premium canned food.
Keep in mind that it is pretty normal for cats to stiffen up, refuse to walk, or walk very awkwardly during the first times they are in a harness. Since your cat has never felt the sensation of something on its back for a long time, it will naturally take some time for them to adapt to it.
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A Low Population Secluded Area
Itâs best to start walking your cat in an area with low population. Low population from people, cars, other animals, and whatever else may be in your city. What is a low population, secluded area you ask? You can try taking your cat for a walk in the hills somewhere behind your home or city. These back hills are usually populated with mostly plants, grass, and birds. If you need to travel with your cat in a car then you can read my article about traveling in a car with a cat so you can prepare yourself on what you need for it to be a successful trip. Even if you are only going down the street, it is still essential to be prepared for what can happen.
The main reason for walking your cat in a secluded area is so you can see how you cat responds to the different types of stimuli while outdoors. Your cat will probably act like a toddler and start wondering off after everything from flowers, trees, plants, walls, fences, gates, or anything else thatâs shiny and eye catching. This is also a good time to see how your cat responds to the different insects and birds that may be flying around in the sky.
Once you start to feel more comfortable with walking your cat, you can slowly ease your way into other areas. Even if you feel confident in your catâs walking abilities, there are still some areas that should be avoided. One of the places that you should avoid walking your cat in are parks.
Is Walking A Cat On A Leash Cruel
Walking a cat on a leash is only cruel if youve not trained for it and your cat is terrified. If you go at your cats pace and take the time to properly train your cat using positive reinforcement, your cat will likely enjoy leash walking.
Being able to go outside is a great form of environmental enrichment since it expands your cats world. They get to explore new surroundings safely which gives them new sights, sounds, and smells to process.
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Pick The Location For Your First Outdoors Adventure
Once you have gotten plenty of practice walking around inside, set yourself up for success by choosing the perfect location for your first foray outdoors.
Its important to find a safe, semi-private place, so your cat will feel relaxed, secure and confident on his first trip. Woodard recommends starting in an enclosed area, such as a fenced backyard, where you wont need to worry about traffic, dogs or other potentially frightening stimuli. Check the weather report too, and make sure no wind or rain is in the forecast.
Acquaint Your Kitty With The Harness
Like anything new, you cat may need some time to get used to their harness. Practice snapping the harness together or undoing the Velcro to get your kitty accustomed to those new sounds, suggests Moss.
If your cat seems reticent, try placing the harness and leash in their favorite spot, such as by the food bowl or on their favorite couch cushion.
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How To Train Your Cat To Walk On A Leash
Despite popular belief, cats can be trained to do things that dogs often do. Some cats even enjoy doing activities like walking on a leash. Just like a puppy that has never been leash-trained though, a cat that is put on a leash will not know what to do unless you train it to walk on it first.
Set A Schedule To Walk Your Cat On His Leash Regularly
If you have made it this far that means your cat is accustomed to wearing his harness and leash. Continue praising him for his good behavior with treats and food. Set a routine schedule on when you take him for a walk so he doesnât pester you to go out. Using your cat harness and leash shouldnât be limited to only using it around your block or when you go to the vet.
Go ahead and start planning different trips or adventures for you and your cat.
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Remember Never Force Your Cat To Walk On A Leash
Finally, take care to never force your cat to do something theyre not ready to do or are uncomfortable with. If they instantly dart back inside or freeze up when you go out, you can try again in a few days to see if they gradually become more comfortable with the outside world. But if the situation doesnt improve, leash training may just not be for your kitty.
Dont force your cat to do anything they arent ready for, whether its simply putting on the harness or going for a hike, Moss says. Forcing your cat outside of their comfort zone will likely backfire and will not only frighten your cat but may also be harm your relationship.
Remember that there are plenty of ways you can bond and spend time with your favorite feline from the comfort of your own home.
As Shojai says, many cats can benefit from leash training, so give it a try! Who knows? You may discover that yours is a natural-born outdoors enthusiastjust like my Roxie!
Walking Cats On A Leash: Is It A Bad Idea
Many people are starting to walk their cat on a leash, but is it a bad idea? The answer to this is it depends. Before walking your cat on a leash you need to make sure you have a fail proof harness or leash, a good walking ground, and a good understanding of how your cat reacts with itâs environment. For as long as we know it has been normal to see someone walking down the street with a dog on a leash. If you were to see someone on the street with a cat on a leash what would you think? I bet you think it would be weird. More and more people are beginning to do more outdoor activities with their cats and walking them on a leash is one of them.
So is walking cats on a leash a bad idea? The short answer to this is yes and no. If you are planning on walking your cat then there are some things you must keep in mind. The main thing you need to keep in mind is where you will be walking them. use your best judgement of your surroundings to whether or not it will be a good idea to walk your cat there.
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Taking Your Cat To Its First Stroll
When your cat has gotten used to the leash and harness, it is now the time for you to take it into its first stroll outside. It is best to go to a safe and relaxing place where you cat can feel relaxed. A fenced backyard is the best starting point. You can also walk it around your peaceful neighborhood. But before you do so, be sure to check the weather first.
Any Last Tips For People Looking To Walk Their Cats
Everyone has their own strategies and ways of walking their cats. Cat personalities are so different, so I donât think one piece of advice fits all. Find cats that are similar in personality to yours, and ask their humans what theyâve done. If youâre on Instagram, there are a lot of experienced cat accounts, like and . Donât hesitate to reach out to any of us for help. Weâre all trying to help each other â to be outside more.
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Start By Walking Your Cat Indoors
Once your cat is more comfortable wearing a harness, attach the leash. This may get you the side-eye from a smart kitty who knows something is up. But by introducing both the harness and leash slowly and separately, this helps you avoid potential stimulation overload. Begin walking your cat indoors so they can get used to the tension of the leash in an environment they know. This is an extremely important step. Because cats like to be in control, the tension of the leash can make them feel uncomfortable. This is why its essential to introduce the leash in an environment where the cat is comfortable.
As they begin walking, give them a treat to let them know what a good job they are doing. Keep the indoor walks short, and let them get used to walking at their own pace. Keep in mind this could take quite a bit of patience and time for your cat to feel comfortable.
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. Dont pull your cat by the leash, but a gentle tug to redirect its attention is okay. You should continuously praise your cat with treats if it is walking in the direction you seek.
Over time your cat will get used to the sights, sounds, smells, and experiences of the outdoors and will 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.
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Get The Cat Used To The Harness
The idealfirst step is to create visual, tactile and olfactory contact between the cat and the harness with leash. To do this, leave the harness and let it in places frequented by your cat, so that he can see them, smell them, play with them and imbue their scent there.
Subsequently,he will have to put the harness on him so that he gets used to the presence of the latter on him. Attach the harness to your cat for a few minutes or even an hour per day, for several days, preferably when he is relaxed. Do not hesitate to reward him, which will further amplify his ability to get used to the presence of the harness on him.
Once your little feline is used to the harness, you can add the leash to it. By going gradually and patiently, let him move as he pleases, until he becomes completely used to the presence of the leash.
Choosing The Right Harness And Walking Gear Is The First Step
When a cat happily wears a harness and leash, it gives the cat greater freedom to investigate a whole new world of enrichment outdoors and relieve stress.
A safe, comfortable, and well-fitted harness is imperative to securely explore the planet. Cat harnesses are available for all size cats. They fit around your cats body and attach to a lead, so your cat can walk safely outdoors once fully trained. Choose a harness designated specifically for cats, since these are more secure than those designed for dogs.
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Get Your Cat Comfortable Wearing Their Harness And Leash
In the example mentioned above from the New York Post, the writer seemingly decided on a whim to take her cat on a walk. This means she likely hadnt taken the time to get her cat used to and comfortable with wearing the harness or walking on a leash. It sounds like she just tried to get her cat to go straight from a known, indoor lifestyle to a very new, very public park this is a recipe for disaster!
Anyone who knows cats knows that they arent exactly eager to jump into new life experiences. They need time to grow familiar with new experiences. So dont make the same mistake the Post writer did. Before you take your cat for a walk outside, make sure you have taken the time to familiarize and get them comfortable with wearing their harness and being on-leash inside.
Walking A Cat Opens Up A World Of Possibility Can Any Cat Be An Adventure Cat
It really depends on your catâs personality if their suited for exploring. Some cats just donât like being walked on a leash. I tried training another cat to walk in a harness but she hated it, so I stopped trying. Itâs not beneficial to the cat if they donât care to be outdoors in the first place. But I think many cats could be adventure cats, even if the adventure is just sitting outside in the backyard.
Teddy was always looking out of the window. Whenever we opened the door, he tried to run out. We live in an apartment and he really wanted to be outside. Going out was natural for Teddy. Heâs not super interested in toys so he doesnât burn energy that way. The only way to let him have fun was to bring him outside. Recently heâs been waiting at the door, meowing to go out. Be consistent and have a schedule â your cat will look forward to it every day.
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