How to Leash Train a Cat Effectively
If you wish to take your cat with you on walks, it is probably a good idea to get a harness and leash. However, your cat may not be so welcoming to the idea of wearing a leash. Not only cats, but no animal likes the idea of a having leash around its neck. Therefore, you need to learn how to leash train a cat in order to make your pet feel comfortable with it. Leash walking is great for when you are going outside as well as when you are traveling or visiting the vet.
Besides the obvious benefit of your cat not running away, the added advantage is that he or she may get a bit of exercising. Pets can get behavior problems because of boredom and prolonged inactivity. In fact, veterinarians advise that a cat should often be walked. Outdoor activities are important for both cats and dogs, but if you are doing it without a leash, there is a good probability of the cat running away and not coming back.
How to Leash Train a Cat: The Right Steps
First of all, the important thing to consider here is “what is the best time to train a cat to wear a leash?” If you have a kitten, then that is the best time to get started with a leash and take them walking with it. They are still in their growing stage and learn new things rather quickly. Nevertheless, that does not mean you cannot train a grown cat, but it might take more time.
In any case, never be forceful with your pet and try as patiently as you can. Here is how you can do it in different steps:
Introduce the Leash & Harness
You have to try to make it look like the leash and harness are something positive for the cat. How do you go around doing that? First, just show the harness and leash and then give them treats afterward. They can sniff it and eat the treats later, making them more comfortable. For a few days, keep the leash next to the food in order for your cat to get fully acquainted with it.
Put on the Harness
Now, it is time to actually start the training, but you have to be careful and patient with this step. Just put on the harness and do not fasten it. If your cat tries to get rid of it or feels uncomfortable, try distracting him or her by giving treats.
If you are lucky, the cat will not have any problem with walking around and playing with the harness on. However, if you experience the opposite case, just keep repeating the activity for a few days. Once they have settled with the harness, it is time to fasten it.
At first, try to leave a gap of two fingers because if it is tight, to begin with, your cat might want to take it off. Treats are your best friend in this process and whenever you want to distract them, give them a treat.
If your cat is walking strangely, it is nothing to worry about as they are getting used to the sensation of having a harness around its neck. Give them their due time to adjust; you will know when your pet is comfortable better than anyone else.
Put on the Leash
Since your cat is comfortable enough with the harness, it is time to attach the leash. The best practice would be to do this in a room where there is minimum furniture. This is because if the cat snags, it does not damage any furniture. Again, keep a lot of treats with you for the process.
Once you have attached the leash, you can hold it but let the cat move freely. If you drag, it will not be a good sign for the cat and may hinder their spirit about it. Give them treats all the way and slowly apply some pressure on the leash. You can call your cat’s name also.
You will have to repeat this practice for several days. If your cat is trying to wiggle his way out, do not apply pressure and offer treats. If you have had clicker training, that might come in useful as well to give the hint that he or she has done a good job.
It is finally time to put the leash in action and hit the road. If you have a backyard or porch, first take them there for a while. Get them used to the idea of going outdoors. Cats are very different, some might jump at the idea of going outdoors and some might even get frightened. You would know what your cat feels like.
Try going to an area where there are not many people. For their first walk outside, you do not want to frighten them. Let them move freely and follow them with you holding on tight the leash. Gradually, you can start pulling the leash to guide the cat your own way. Again, keep treats with you whenever you need to bribe them.
Tip: Keep a towel with you for the first time in case he or she gets too frightened and gets a panic attack. You do not want to get bitten or scratched!
It is important to understand that walking a cat is different from walking a dog. Cats are usually not that excited and just sniff around and lay out in the sun. So you will not have to drag the leash so much anyway.
First few days, take the cat outside regularly and slowly you will see they are more comfortable with the harness and leash on. Each cat is different and may take its sweet time to train so be patient.
Conclusion: Last Few Things to Keep In Mind
Now that you know how to leash train a cat, make sure to never let your cat walk on its own with the leash on. Also, if your cat misbehaves in order to go outside do not take them outside or they will make it a habit. Always keep your pet’s comfort in mind and let them have fun while you take them outside on roads, parks, buses, and trains.