How Do I Train my Cat to Walk on a Leash?
When you become the proud parent to a furry feline, you will unquestionably want to do everything that you can to ensure that she stays safe. Unfortunately, outdoor cats that roam around the neighborhood are naturally at greater risk of being involved in an incident or accident that sees them becoming injured. Alternatively, they are more likely to become affected by viruses and infectious diseases. For these reasons, many owners try and raise their felines as indoor cats, keeping them inside and fairly well out of harm’s way. Nevertheless, this isn’t an entirely natural environment for your furry friend. Fresh air and opportunities to climb, explore and hunt prey - which are all natural instincts for her – are scarce when confined to the walls of your home.
If you have a house cat you will have to make additional effort to make sure that she gets the exercise she needs to prevent her from becoming overweight, unhealthy or downright bored. One of the best ways of doing this is to train your cat to walk on a leash.
A cat on a leash? Are you sure?
Walking on a leash provides you with an ideal opportunity to share
Many people don’t realize that it is just as possible to train your cat to walk nicely on a leash as it is a dog. In fact, with the right choice of harness, patience and practice, leash training your beloved kitty will be as easy as a walk in the park! In doing so, you can enjoy quality bonding time with one another outside of your home, provide her with mental stimulation and exercise, all while keeping her much safer from harm than if she were roaming the neighborhood on her own.
Here are our top tips for training your cat to walk on a leash.
Choose a harness and not a collar
Collars aren’t the safest accessory for any animal, but particularly for cats who have been known to become strangled by standard collars when they run away. Felines also have a cunning ability to be able to slip out of even the narrowest collar, and this means that not only might she run away, but if she isn’t microchipped it may be possible for someone who finds her to ID her.
Instead, opt for a harness that fits around her upper body, that comes with a leash attachment. These are considerably safer for your pet and a much.
Use the gradual exposure technique to get her used to the harness
Many owners find this painfully slow, but studies have shown that it really does help. Start by leaving the harness laying around so that she can see it and sniff it. After a week or so, try and slip the harness onto her when she is calm and still. Then progress to securing it, leaving her in it for increasing periods of time and attaching the leash. The rate at which you will be able to progress through this pattern will vary from cat to cat, but patience is crucial. You should also be prepared for the odd setback and should remain tolerant of your kitty when these will inevitably happen.
Treats and praise
As with any type of training, your kitty will probably respond well to being given lots of praise, love and attention. You can also consider using treats but be wary about giving up too many. Not only could they cause your cat to become overweight, but they could also affect the health of her teeth.
Take your time when exploring outside the house
Once you get to a point where you can take your feline beyond your front door, it can be tempting to try and force her to walk further than she is comfortable with. It is not unheard of for owners to walk their cat for miles, but never actually make it beyond the boundary of their driveway or perimeter fence for at least a few weeks. Remember to go at pace that is comfortable for your cat. Forcing her can cause her to freeze up and make it even harder to get her used to walking on a leash.
For further guidance on the best way to leash train your cat, please do not hesitate to contact and get in touch with our offices.