We understand that letting your beloved feline to have an access outdoors is unacceptably risky. There is a risk of being exposed to viruses, acquiring other disease agents, getting poisoned, being ran by speedy cars, and more! By simply thinking about these threats outdoors makes us skeptical about letting our kittens run free.
However, your kitty also needs to express his urge to explore and get environmental enrichment. Walking your feline outside also keeps him healthy by getting exercise that reduces behavioral problems. Fortunately, certain gears such as a leash and harness are there to keep your furry friend safe even in outdoors. Forget about expensive invisible cat fences!
Nevertheless, it is not simple to introduce a leash to a kitten, especially for older cats. We understand your grief as we provided a guide on how to train a cat to walk on a leash.
8 Steps To Train a Cat to Walk on a Leash
Understand your feline
While most felines will love the opportunity to safely wander in a new outdoor environment, some would never agree to walk on a leash. Therefore, the first and most important thing to consider is to know your feline and its needs. If you suspect that your furry friend is uncomfortable and would never try a leash, then do not insist! You wouldn’t want to install fear of leashes unto him.
Find the perfect gear
We highly suggest to buy a harness for your cat’s leash, not a collar. There are chances that a collar could strangle your cat and that would be the last thing that you want to happen. Moreover, kitties are extremely flexible and can find a way out of their collars! These are the reasons why the best partner of a leash is a harness!
There are a lot of affordable yet reliable harnesses specifically designed for cats available in the market. Always make sure that the leash attachment is attached on the back of the harness, not the neck.
Introduce the harness
A cat parent knows that unlike dogs, cats do everything they want, when they want, for how long they want. Therefore, take baby steps but also expect setbacks. The only way to make your feline to get used to a harness is to incorporate positive things to the harness.
You can start with leaving the harness near your cat’s favorite treats and favorite spots. Next is to hold the harness and make your cat sniff it and then feed him afterwards. Do this whenever your feline is hungry because cats’ level of cooperation decreases when their tummy is full. After training sessions, do not forget to give your feline verbal praises, head pats, and ear scratches.
Try the gear
Now that your furry friend is aware of the harness, it’s time to slip it on. By doing this, give more treats and provide his favorite toys to help your feline incorporate a positive experience with the harness.
The moment your cat wears the harness, you can fasten the harness and adjust the fit. Make sure that the fit of the harness is tight but not too much. To check if your feline will be comfortable, you should be able to insert one or two fingers beneath the harness. Before you let go of your cat, give him a treat.
Now, observe how your cat reacts to the harness. There is a tendency that some cats back out of the harness because they are frightened. You definitely don’t want your feline to run away from you outdoors so remove the harness and give him a treat.
If your kitty takes a step in the harness, give him a treat and pat him on the head. Continue to do this for several minutes and pay more attention to your cat’s behavior towards his new gear.
If your cat seems comfortable with the harness, leave it on for a longer period and never forget to give verbal praises, a pat on the head, and his favorite food. However, if your cat gives signs that he’s upset, remove the harness immediately and provide a better treat.
If it’s your feline’s first time to venture outdoors, expect that he’s going to be nervous and be extra sensitive. You can start on your backyard and let him explore on his own pace. Whenever he starts traveling in new areas, simply follow him around.
Depending on your feline’s adjustment, you could spend a month just venturing around your backyard or you could be walking him in parks. It mainly depends on how your furry friend adjusts to being outdoors while on a leash.
Additional Leash Training Tips:
- Training your cat on a leash would be easier if you started early. It is suggested that the ideal age for leash training for kittens is eight weeks. While older cats will still learn, they will need to have a longer amount of time to learn.
- Choosing the right harness and leash for your cat is very essential in leash training. Cats have a tendency to react when people or other animals are around, especially if they are used to being indoors. Make sure to choose the most appropriate gear to prevent injuries if your cat bolts all of a sudden.
- Whenever taking your cat on a leash outdoors, the very first thing to do is pick up your leashed feline and carry him outside. It is important to not let your cat walk outdoors on his own because he might get used to doing it when he’s not leashed.
- Do not ever put your cat on a leash when he is crying to go for a walk. Your cat will think that you’re rewarding his behavior so you’ll certainly hear more in the future. The best way to avoid this is to set a walking schedule.
- Never your tie your cat’s leash to something and leave him unattended for any reason, even for a minute. Your feline could get tangled in the leash and he won’t get away from any approaching threat. Always prioritize your feline’s safety!
Training a cat on a leash is not as easy as training a dog. Your cat’s leash training would largely depend on his personality. It would definitely take a lot of time and effort but trust me, it’s all going to be worth it in the end!
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