In this post we are going to look at how to train a cat to walk on a leash. You may find this a bit strange because people usually associate dogs with walking on a leash. Training your cat to walk on a leash can have great benefits for your cat and yourself. We are going to show you how to train a cat to walk on a leash and everything you will need to get started.
Why Train a Cat to Walk On A Leash
- Adventurous cats: All cats are very unique and some may be content with just staring out of the window. But some cats, especially some cat breeds such as Bengals are very adventurous and love the outdoors. Leash training your cat can build a great bond between the two of you.
- Prevent boredom and stress: If your cat is urinating outside of the litter box, over-grooming, or becoming destructive, this may be signs of boredom. You should be making your home a stimulating environment for your cat by providing multiple toys, indoor trees, and scratching posts. Taking your cat in the outdoors can provide the most stimulating experience with new sites, sounds, and smells.
- Cats living in small apartments: Learning how to train a cat to walk on a leash can be a great option if you live in a small apartment and your cat never gets to experience the outdoors.
- Trips to the vet: As a cat owner you will be taking your cat to the vets for regular checkups. Although you will be using a cat carrier, training your cat to walk on a leash will give an additional safety option to prevent your cat from escaping.
Tools to Help Leash Train a Cat
Before learning how to train a cat to walk on a leash, there are a number of items required that you will need in place before you begin the training.
When choosing a harness, look for ones that are padded. Not only will it stay in place better but it will also provide both comfort and safety for your kitty. Here are our recommendations:
Eagloo Cat Harness Escape Proof:
Escape Proof Cat Harness:
The ideal leash will have enough length to allow them freedom but not too long to the point where you cannot keep them close to you. Something like the Rabbitgoo Small Pet Leash is a great option which provide a perfect balance of control and freedom.
#3 Clicker Trainer
Clicker trainers help to train your cat to do certain things by making a distinctive clicking sound. As soon as your cat makes an action that you want, immediately follow this with a reward. This helps to positively reinforce certain behavior.
#4 Target Stick
This is a great tool that you can use to train your cat to do all kinds of things. A target stick also has a built-in clicker.
An important part of the leash training is to have a selection of your cats favorite treats as a reward to enforce positive behavior.
How To Train A Cat To Walk On A Leash
#1 Introduce the harness
Cats are not used to being confined so the experience of wearing the harness for the first time may not be a good one. The key to succeeding with this step is to make it a positive experience. Here’s what you need to do:
- Place the harness in your dirty laundry for a few days so it has the scent of you which may help your cat feel more relaxed.
- Leave your cats harness next to their food bowl for a few days. They will be curious of this new item and sniff it.
- Fasten the harness together and open back up a few times to allow your cat to get used to the sound.
#2 Get your cat used to wearing the harness
You should now attempt to put the harness on your cat for the first time. If your cat either freezes up, wriggles about, or even walks strangely the first few times of wearing a harness then this is completely normal. The key is to get the harness on as fast as possible. The longer you take, the more stressed and anxious your cat is going to become.
Here’s some guidelines you can follow:
- Leave the harness on for just one minute the first time you do this.
- As soon as you take it off, immediately reward with a treat.
- Gradually increase the duration of your cat in the harness by a minute or two each day.
- Do this until you get to the stage where your cat is wearing the harness for 30 – 60 minutes.
#3 Let your cat move around with the harness
After successfully completing the previous step, it’s now time to move to the next stage. By now your cat should be used to the harness with no issues. You should now leave the harness on your cat for a few hours and just let them wonder around the house and do their own thing. Remember to reward any good behavior with treats.
#4 Get your cat used to the leash
Some cats will be fine with a leash and others may be terrified. It’s important to allow your cat to get used to the leash indoors to start with. Never introduce a leash to your cat for the first time outdoors. Again, food is going to be your friend here which will distract your cat from the fear of the leash.
Another way to help them relax is to turn it into a play session. Playing with your cat will make them realize that there is nothing scary about a leash. It’s also a good idea to drag the lash on the floor. If that’s happens when you are actually walking your cat it may frighten them. This will allow them to get used to the leash dragging.
#5 Walk your cat indoors
If you have reached this far then your cat should now be comfortable with the harness and leash. Before you move to the outdoors, you should first walk your cat indoors. The reason for this is because there are multiple distractions outside. Walking indoors first will fully allow your cat to get used to walking on a leash.
#6 Going outside
Your kitty should now be fully comfortable with walking on a leash around the house. The final step is to take your cat outdoors. Walking them around your backyard is a great way to start. You should always put the harness on your cat whilst still indoors to ensure they do not escape.
Once you have done this a few times you can then venture out on a proper walk. For safety purposes, always make sure to take a towel out with you. If your cat does happen to escape then you have the towel as back up to wrap them up in. The key to success is consistency. You have to be patient and keep going for short walks every single day.
Additional leash-walking tips
Connect everything before you open the door
Always have the harness secured and the leash connected to the harness before you even open the door. This is to prevent door dashing. If they do this then they woill probably think it’s okay to try and pull on the leash or dash at other times.
Never leave your cat unattended outside
You’ve more than likely at some point in your life had a walk to the shop and saw a dog tied to something outside. You should never do this with your cat. If the leash becomes untangled then they could either run away or end up with an injury.
How to Protect Your Cat When Walking Outside
As you can imagine, a cat in the outdoors poses a lot more risk and danger than being in the safety of your home. Here are some things to be aware of:
- Fleas: There are a number of safe and effective flea treatments you can use on your cat to prevent fleas. Always read the labels or seek the advice of a veterinarian first.
- Heartworm: There is no cure for heartworm and if your cat has it it is very difficult to detect. The good news is there are some very effective heartworm preventatives available that you can use.
- Intestinal worms: Cats in the outdoors are more at risk to hookworms and roundworms which are intestinal parasites. These types of parasites produce eggs which can be found in many outdoor surfaces including mud and dirt. It’s always adviced to use some kind of preventatives.
What If Leash Training Doesn’t Work?
Don’t force your cat to do anything it doesn’t want to do. All cats are very unique and not all cats will take to being on a leash. As with any kind of training it’s always advised to start from a young age. The longer you leave it the harder it will be. Have lot’s of patience. Never rush the training and take as long as you need.
Hope you enjoyed this post on how to train a cat to walk on a leash. If you have been successful with training your cat to walk on a leash, let us know your stories in the comments section below.