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5 Tips on Leash-Training Your Cat

Written by Kimberly Gonzalez | April 7, 2014

Cat on leash

Spring is here, which means that the weather will be warmer, the grass will be greener, and the flowers will be blooming. It will be a wonderful time to be outside! But what about your feline companion? If your cat wants to go outside, but you know enough to keep him or her indoors, consider this a compromise!

Leash-training cats is becoming more common, and it’s a great way for your cat to enjoy the outdoors safely. Although it can be time-consuming, it will be rewarding for both of you in the end.

  1. Purchase a cat harness that has chest coverage, and allow your cat to wear the harness for a couple of days to adjust to the feel of it. Most cats won’t like the harness at first, but there are ways to comfort them. You can stroke them while they wear it, give them treats, play with a toy, and put it on before their meals.
  2. Once they’re used to the harness, attach a lightweight leash and take them outside to an enclosed, quiet area. A fenced backyard, porch, or enclosed garden will be perfect for their first area to explore, as long as there isn’t too much traffic or other loud sounds that may frighten your companion. Let your cat sit in your lap, and allow him or her to explore, but don’t be pushy about it. It may take some time, but eventually, your cat will begin to explore the area.
  3. Allow your cat some time to explore. Know that walking a cat is different from walking a dog. Cats are easily distracted, and their walks include a lot more stopping to sniff or stare at something, so just be patient.
  4. Once your cat seems comfortable enough to explore other areas, you can move on to your front yard or another part of your neighborhood that seems safe. Make sure that there is not much foot traffic. Also, be sure to avoid areas with loud noises, and look for loose animals who might attack your cat. If your cat wants to sit and stare, so be it! But many cats (depending on their personality) will be eager to explore and will also be dragging you behind them.
  5. Accept that your kitty will lead the way and that you will follow. Never tug on the leash if your cat wants to go the opposite direction, which will only make him or her react negatively. However, if you feel that the direction your cat wants to travel in is unsafe, hold on to the leash tightly. If you don’t give in to the tugging, your cat will eventually give up.

Most of all, remember to be patient. It will be different than walking a dog, and it may be time-consuming, but watching your cat enjoy the outdoors safely can be very rewarding. Also, make sure that you purchase a cat harness that has coverage on the chest, along with a lightweight, retractable leash. Depending on the cat’s personality, he or she may not want to walk at all and may prefer staying in! In that case, don’t force your cat to stay outside, because he or she may be spooked and attempt to run away.

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