As a cat owner, you are probably constantly looking for ways to have fun activities with your furry friend – and it must have crossed your mind – can we go for a walk together? Well, you might just be able to, with time, love, and patience. While it may seem odd to want to train your cat to walk around with you, the activity has a lot of benefits for both you and your cat.
The benefits of leash training your cat
Why should you bother trying to train your cat to walk on a leash? Well, there are many answers to that question. Firstly, walking is a great way for cats to exercise. Because cats tend to laze around, sleep in, and generally stay indoors, they have a tendency to become overweight. In this case, walking is a great exercise for your little friend.
But that’s not all – once your cat gets used to a leash and harness, walking can be a way for your feline friend to explore the outdoors – a chance he or she would have never gotten inside your home. By nature, cats are curious by what’s going on out there, and they’ll be perplexed by all of the different smells, sounds, and objects around them.
Lastly, the whole process will help you bond with your cat better than ever. As you explore the great outdoors together, you can both discover new things and become closer than ever!
Is leash training your cat safe?
Because it’s common to see dogs being leash trained, a frequent question is whether leash training cats is safe. The answer is simple – yes. If done correctly, cats are perfectly capable of being leash trained. However, it is important to consider that not all cats are built for leash training, and there is just nothing you can do about it. Leash training can only be successful when the cat itself is willing to participate.
The process of leash training
Leash training for cats be done using these steps.
#1- Choosing a harness
Essentially, harnesses will help you make sure your cat is in your control during the walk. In addition to this, they will ensure that the pull of the leash is spread out and does not hurt your cat. Commonly for cats, leads or vests are used.
Leads are formed of a meshwork of straps that cover both the cat’s head and it’s back. These then connect to the leash. However, some of the cleverer cats may manage to squeeze out of it or start pulling, which isn’t ideal. In this case, vests, that cover the cat like clothing, can be a better fit.
#2- Noticing the harness
Firstly, you want the cat to notice the harness – but don’t slip it on immediately. Let the cat sniff it by keeping it close to him or her, and then giving it treats right afterwards. This way, the cat will associate all of the fun of treats with the harness.
#3- Putting the harness on
Next, you will want to slip the harness on, but don’t fasten it all at once. Provide treats while you’re doing this to once again make it a good experience. Once you feel the cat is comfortable having the harness around it, try fastening it.
When the cat starts getting uneasy, such as by freezing, or walking strangely, take the harness off, then repeat again later. This process will be repeated several times over a period of days until the cat gets comfortable with the leash.
Getting used to the harness
The next step is a dealbreaker – whether your cat adjusts to the harness or not. Until the cat has adjusted, you cannot move further. However, if your cat shows no sign of adjustment after several tries over periods like weeks, it might just mean leash training is not for your cat. It isn’t a good idea to push a cat into this so make sure it is comfortable.
Adjusting to the leash
Attach the leash to your cat’s harness, and either follow him or her around, or let the leash drag loosely as it walks. You can choose whatever method is the best for your cat. Praise the cat and give treats and let him or her adjust to the feel of the leash on the harness.
Guiding using the leash
Once the cat has adjusted, hold onto the leash, apply some pressure (very soft) and then ask them to come towards you, all the while providing them with treats when they do so. You need to do this inside the house.
Initially, the cat will probably not understand what is going on. This is a stage where a lot of patience and care is needed. Over a period of several days, repeat this process and guide the cat towards you. Practice indoors in an area that the cat is familiar with and give lots of treats, encouragement, and praise.
The great outdoors
When you are confident that your feline friend has adjusted to walking inside the house, you can take him or her outside. The first few visits may be very strange and possibly even frightening for your cat, especially if it has little exposure to the outside world.
Start off in a cordoned off area, such as your backyard, and let him or her explore. Be prepared for panicky running towards the home – or even worse states of panic. Eventually when the cat has adjusted even to this, he or she will be comfortable walking with you.
What does a walk with my cat look like?
When we think of leash training, the mind automatically jumps towards dogs. However, leash training cats and walking with them is completely different. Cats may not be up for the whole idea of a stroll around the park, and would probably want to sniff everything and explore, perhaps for short periods of time. Let your cat decide what kind it prefers and don’t rush into anything that it is unhappy with.
Helpful tips for your cat’s training
Aside from the general procedure on how to train your cat, here are some helpful tips that’ll definitely make things easier.
- Be careful, warm, and encouraging with your cat throughout the process.
- Always accompany your cat when you are outside with it and never, under any circumstances, leave it alone.
- Do not try to train your cat by attaching a leash to a collar. A cat;s sensitive throat may be hurt in this process.
- A harness fits when you can easily place two fingers between the harness and the cat. Always check that it fits before placing it on the cat.
- If the cat pulls on the leash, stay still till he or she relaxes.
- Pair introduction of the harness or the leash with mealtime or treats to make sure your cat considers it a positive experience.
- Kittens are more likely to adapt to leash training, however, older cats can also learn to walk with a leash if trained effectively.
- Carry your cat outside so it understands not to leave on its own.
- If your cat is unhappy outside, you can try repeating the process at night or day, it may adjust to any one time of the day.
- Do not allow the cat to lick or eat things it finds outside.
Using these tips, you can be sure that you and your feline friend are up for an adventure in the great outdoors!