Some people might laugh at the idea of taking a cat out on a leash, but for many cat owners it is a great idea. Cats enjoy being outdoors, and it can be good exercise for them and their owners. When I first got my cat, I didn’t want him to go outside unsupervised because I was afraid of something dangerous happening to him. I decided to leash train him so that he could enjoy the outdoors with me. It can be difficult to leash train cats, but it can be done. Here is what I did, and what you can do if you are interested in taking your cat for a walk.
1) I purchased a leash and harness at my local pet store. You can get this at many pet stores, but make sure it includes a harness. Most cats can escape very easily from just a leash attached to their collars. Also, make sure to pay attention to the size of the harness. Most will have a small, medium or large size and you want to make sure it isn’t too tight or too loose on your cat.
2) Familiarize your cat with the harness. This might take a few days, or a few weeks, but it’s best to put the harness on your cat inside your home and let your cat walk around with it on. Do this once a day for a few days or weeks, whatever you think is best. The reason you’d want to do this is so your cat can get used to the feel and scent of the harness and will be less likely to think of it as a punishment. Your cat probably won’t like it and will try to get out of it, but don’t give up easily.
3) Start slowly. Take your cat outside with the harness and leash attached and stay close to home. I just took my cat outside my door and walked him around my porch during his first leashed experience. He didn’t like it, but he was happy to be outdoors.
4) Don’t force or pull the leash. Taking a cat on a leash is very different from walking a dog on a leash. Dogs will follow you and stay by your side; most cats will not follow you, will tug away from you and might try to escape from the leash. Give your cat the freedom to walk where he wants and explore what he wants, with your guidance.
5) Be patient. The key is to train your cat gradually. Leash and go outdoors with your cat every day, even if it is only for a small period of time. It will take time for your cat to get used to being on the leash. Eventually you might be able to walk with your cat down the street, but not before a consistent amount of practice!
Do you walk your cat on a leash or would you? What was your experience like? Let us know if you have any other tips to share!