Leash Training Your Cat
When you think of walking a pet on a leash, cats might not be the first animals that come to mind. However, leash training can be an enriching experience for both you and your feline friend. Not only does it provide physical exercise, but it also offers mental stimulation and the opportunity for your cat to explore the great outdoors safely. If you’ve been thinking about leash training your cat, check out our tips.
Find the Right Equipment
While you may want to get a collar for your cat’s walk, it’s better to use a harness. A collar will pull on their necks and can slip off. Harnesses are more comfortable and secure, which is important especially when you first start training. Look for a lightweight and adjustable harness that won't restrict your cat's movements. Find one that is specifically designed for cats.
You’ll also want a good leash. When you first train your cat, you’ll want a leash that is 4-6 feet long. Once you feel comfortable walking your cat with a leash, then you can try a longer or retractable one.
Familiarize Your Cat with the Harness
Introduce it to your cat to the harness gradually. Allow them to sniff and explore it while offering treats and praise to create positive associations. Before attempting to put it on, let your cat get accustomed to the presence of the harness in their environment. This step helps reduce any initial anxiety.
You can then try putting the harness on your cat. Hold the harness open and gently drape it over your cat's back. Reward your cat with treats and praise for allowing the harness to touch their fur. Gradually fasten the harness while rewarding your cat with treats and praise at each step. Be patient, as some cats may take longer to get used to the sensation of wearing a harness. Once the harness is secure, let your cat walk around freely indoors, offering treats and encouragement. Observe their movements to ensure the harness fits comfortably and doesn't cause any discomfort.
Introduce the Leash
After your cat is comfortable wearing the harness indoors, it's time to introduce the leash. Begin by attaching the leash to the harness while keeping it loose and letting your cat drag it around. This allows them to become familiar with the added weight and sensation of the leash. You can then try holding the leash and following the cat around. Start with short sessions, gradually increasing the duration over time. Offer treats and praise as your cat walks around, rewarding them for positive behavior.
Eventually, you can start guiding your cat. Do this by stopping your movement and gently tugging the leash in a specific direction. When your cat heads in that direction, give them a treat.
Take It Outside
Once your cat is comfortable walking indoors with the leash, it's time to venture outside. Choose a quiet and secure location for their first outdoor adventure, away from busy streets and other potential hazards. If you have a yard, try walking out there. Keep in mind that cats may be initially overwhelmed by new sounds, smells, and sights, so be patient and allow them to explore at their own pace. Remember to use positive reinforcement and gradually increase the length of your walks. Pay attention to your cat’s body language. If they’re scared they would stop moving, put their ears back, or puff their tail.
Remember that each cat is unique, and their willingness to adapt to leash training may vary. Some cats may take to it quickly, while others need more time and patience. If you’ve leash trained your cat, share your tips with parents in the comments.