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Tips for Leash Training Your Cat

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.

Basil is thrilled to be outside but not thrilled to be on his leash for the first time.


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!

About Amanda @

Amanda is a cat lover working in the eCommerce department at Trupanion. Outside of work she enjoys playing with her two-year-old cat named Basil, cooking, photography, exploring the outdoors and staying active.

One Response to Tips for Leash Training Your Cat

  1. Hairless Cat says:

    Hi Amanda,

    I haven’t tried a leash and harness yet but I’ve been toying with the idea – at least to walk around our own yard. Cats love to explore, sniff the dirt, and be out in the breezy sunshine.

    For now we’ve been supervising our cats on our partly enclosed deck.

    When I do get around to using a leash and harness, I will certainly do it just as you say.

    This is among the very best articles I’ve read about cat leashes and harnesses. You covered all the bases well.

    As you mentioned – first slowly introducing the cat to the getup inside for a while is critical. Then transitioning to your own yard for a while is the next proper step. Once the cat becomes used to the getup and being outside with it, a person might take them on a long walk.

    I think each step – in sequence and for a fair amount of time – is very important.

    Another important tip that you gave was that cats won’t behave like dogs on a leash and harness.

    I would repeat what you’ve said – don’t just slap a leash on a collar. Cats don’t have a clavicle. They can slip the collar and they can also choke on it. I agree that a harness must be a part of the equation.

    Great comprehensive cat leash and harness article.

    =^..^= Hairless Cat Girl =^..^=

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