27 May Can I Leash Train My Cat? A How-to-Guide
Dogs don’t have to have all of the fun! Getting outside and enjoying the outdoors can be just as beneficial for our feline friends as our canine companions. If you want to leash train your cat, there are a few approaches to ensure both you and your kitty have a good time.
Find the Right Harness
Your kitty won’t be able to fit into just any harness that you find. While dogs and cats are both four-legged animals, the shapes of their bodies differ enough that they can’t comfortably [or securely] wear the same harness. But now companies have started making feline-specific harnesses that fit like a dream!
Do your research and read reviews before you choose the right kitty harness. We’ve personally had success with Petsafe’s Come With Me Kitty Harness & Bungee Leash and the Kitty Holster Harness. But there are several options for whatever your kitty is most comfortable with.
Leash Training Requires Patience
Don’t walk into leash training expecting your feline friend to catch on to the concept right away. Leash training requires a lot of patience [and maybe a few kitty treats and some praise]. Training your cat to walk on a leash is very different than walking a dog.
Familiarize Your Cat With Their Harness
Before you ever put the harness on your cat, let them get used to it on its own. Let it take on some of the scents your cat is familiar with, like their food or favorite treats. It’s also a good idea to spray the harness down with calming pheromones before putting it on your cat.
When you put the harness on your cat for the first time, they won’t know how to move or walk at first. Most cats freeze the first couple of times they wear a harness. Let your cat wear the harness while they’re in the house, without the leash attached, to get used to wearing it, but not to the point where they get distressed. If you see your cat getting upset, remove the harness, and reward him with a treat.
How to Determine the Fit of a Cat Harness
A comfortable fit for your cat’s harness is similar to the appropriate fit of a dog’s harness. You should be able to slip two fingers comfortably under the harness. If you can fit more than two fingers the harness is too loose.
If you can only fit one finger or less, the harness is too tight. Cats are very good at slipping out of situations they don’t want to be in, so it’s important to make sure that their harness fits the way it’s supposed to.
Introduce Your Cat to Their Leash Slowly
Once your cat is comfortable wearing their harness and moving around your apartment or house normally while wearing it for extended periods of time, it’s time to introduce them to their leash!
Most cats won’t be used to something attached to them dragging behind them, so it’s important to introduce their leash while holding it off the floor.
Introduce the leash to them while they’re still indoors. Don’t try to pull them in a certain direction. Let your cat take the lead, and walk where they want to go while wearing both the harness and leash. When your cat is used to you holding the leash while they’re leading the way, try gently guiding them.
Use rewards and plenty of praise to encourage them to follow your lead on the leash. Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy recommends the click training method for leashing training. It’s important not to force them to follow your lead. Let them get used to the idea.
Enjoying the Outdoors With Your Cat
Before you take leash training outside, make sure your kitty is up to date on their vaccinations. The outdoors pose more threats to their health than staying inside, and it’s important to protect them from rabies, distemper, FIV, FeLV and more.
Venturing outdoors with your cat will be a different experience than leash training indoors. Be prepared for your cat to be a little overwhelmed by new sights, sounds, and smells. Stick close to home at first, and go outside for short periods of time. If you keep this up, you and your kitty will be able to spend more time outdoors together.
PetWellClinic is dedicated to being here for pet owners. Our hours of operation extend into the evenings and weekends, and our clinic environment is built with your pet’s comfort in mind. Prep your feline friend for the great outdoors. Bring your cat by for their annual exam and vaccines today!
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