Tips for Leash-Training Your Cat

We quit the traditional lifestyle to roam the US in our travel trailer, the Intech Sol, and we leash-trained our cat while on the road.

When you see a dog on a leash, it's hard to stop everything you're doing to give it some lovin'. When you see a cat on a leash, you do a double-take. Can cats even be leashed? Yes, they can, and we will give you some ideas on how we trained our cat to walk on a leash.

Why Should You Leash-Train Your Cat?

For us, leash-training our cat would allow us to take her outside with us while we were at camping sites. Many RV, state, and national parks require that pets must be leashed outside. We also wanted to make sure our cat wouldn't bolt and run up a tree if she was startled.

Cats like to explore their territory, so you can take your leash-trained cat to explore around the RV, which could ease their anxiety of going to a new place. Other reasons to leash train your cat would be to take them with you when exploring the great outdoors, to allow you to control your cat while in an unfamiliar place, and to allow your cat to exercise outside instead of being restricted indoors.

Our Cat Wearing a Harness for First Time

Tip: Get a Vest-Style Harness

Our cat was never was allowed outside but was always curious, so we used her curiosity to lure her outside. First, we had to get her used to wearing a harness. She only wore a collar, and she destroyed three before she gave up and accepted that she had to wear one. Getting her used to a harness was going to be interesting. She had a habit of backing out when we put her collar on, so we knew she was going to finagle herself out of a harness.

We got a vest-style harness that would cradle her neck and chest so that it would be harder for her to escape. She did manage to get out of the vest once, but thank goodness it happened inside the house. We put the vest on, and she would jump backward and do all these acrobatic moves to get out—more humorous for us, more annoying for her. After we stopped laughing, we took the harness off and gave her a treat for her troubles.

This went on each week for a few weeks until she got comfortable with the vest. Her prize was to actually go outside, and we practiced in the backyard for a few minutes at a time, gradually getting to about 10 minutes. She still hates the harness, she still fights us when we put it on her, but she knows she gets to go outside so calms afterward.

How to Get Your Cat Used to Walking on a Leash

After our cat got used to the harness, we needed to practice walking inside so that we could understand how she would react to walking on a leash. We took her "walking" to different rooms in the house to see if she would get easily startled. We would add some loud noises, such as slamming a door or dropping something off the counter, to see how she would react. She did bolt a few times, so we knew she had to get used to the new feeling of the harness before we could take her outside.

After a few weeks of training inside, she started to get more comfortable with the harness and started to even nap in it. We knew she was ready for the next big step. When we saw our cat looking intently outside or making cat chirps at critters outside, we knew it was a perfect time for some leash training outside. Because she already wanted to go outside, she wouldn't fight us as much when putting on her harness. Once she heard the leash clipped to the harness, she headed to the door.

Tips for Leash-Training Outside

Always Put the Harness on Before Going Outside

At first, your cat may be hesitant to step outside, but with a little encouragement (like a push on its tush), they will start to learn that it is okay. For us, we don't allow her near the door without her harness, so a tip would to be consistent in training and only allow access to the door with a harness only.

Let Your Cat Take the Lead

Once outside, you will notice that your cat will do want it wants. There is no "walking" your cat—it is more of "following" your cat. Unlike dogs, cats do not respond well to be pulled on a leash. They will start to back out and try to escape from the harness. What works well is, if your cat is heading in the wrong direction, the best option is just to stop moving. Allow your cat to realize it can't go any further on the leash and stand still while they are exploring that direction. Once your cat starts to walk in the direction you want to go, start walking too. This allows your cat to make a decision, rather than being forced to do something.

Pick Up Your Cat If You Need to Go

Sometimes, your cat may lay down to watch birds or get ready to chase a squirrel. If it's a behavior you don't want, you can pick up your cat and move it to another location to continue leash training. If they become more agitated, it's time to go inside! Reward your cat with a treat and lots of attention for a job well done.

Sol Perspectives (author) on October 04, 2019:

Thank you Linda for sharing stories of your kitties and their reaction to the leash. Love it

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on October 02, 2019:

You're right, the leash isn't for all cats; we've had one of each. Pumpkin will simply NOT tolerate it and our little girl Kyla absolutely LOVED going out on the leash. If she heard us outside (without her) she would hop up to the nearest window to where we were and cry mournfully.

And, when we were all indoors, if she was in the mood to go for a stroll she would yowl and warble. When we ignored her pleas (how could we be so heartless?) she would dramatically throw herself on her back at the door and kick the door with her rear feet--a real toddler-in-the-grocery-store I'm mad at the world (and you) temper tantrum.

Thank you for loving your kitty as you do and sharing your experience with others. (By the way, where I live we could NEVER let our kitty out unattended. Too many raccoons and coyotes.)

Sol Perspectives (author) on September 24, 2019:

Yeap, setting a cat or a rabbit on a leash seems abnormal but it shouldn't be. I've even seen a leashed snake!

Liz Westwood from UK on September 22, 2019:

I once saw a rabbit on a leash, which was very unusual. I can understand why, in your circumstances, a leash is a good idea.

Tori Leumas on September 21, 2019:

This is very interesting. We once put a cat on a leash. He was an outside cat had got hit by a car and broke his back leg, so we had him in the house to heal and took him outside on a leash until his leg healed up. He actually was pretty good about it.

12 Tips For Walking Your Cat On A Leash

Your cat can benefit from taking a stroll outdoors as long as she’s on a leash where you can keep her safe from predators and environmental dangers. Taking your cat on leashed walks is a great way to keep her body and mind healthy and active. She may also enjoy getting a chance to roll in the grass, dig in the dirt, chase butterflies, and scratch tress. Here are some tips to keep you both safe and happy if you choose to add leashed walks into your routine.

#1 – Know your cat. Not all cats will be able to find the delights in walking outdoors on a leash. Before you consider taking your cat on an adventure, consider her individual temperament and personality. Cats who do best on leashes are ones who are naturally outgoing and brave. If your cat runs under the bed every time there’s a knock on the door, leash walks may not be for her. If your cat doesn’t enjoy being walked, don’t force it.

#2 – Use the right kind of harness.
Be sure to use a harness that has been designed specifically for cats. This is important because a cat will be able to slip out of most harnesses made for dogs.

#3 – Make sure the harness fits correctly. The harness must fit correctly in order to make the experience safe and pleasurable for your cat. Take the time to make the necessary adjustments. It shouldn’t be loose enough for her to slip out of or tight enough to pinch or squeeze her. The harness should be as comfortable as possible.

#4 – Train indoors first.
After you buy the harness, leave it out where she can get used to it for a day or two before you put it on her. This will give her time to rub her scent on it and play with it. Once she has become familiar with the harness, strap it onto her and let her wear it around the house so she can get used to the feeling of having something strapped to her. You can even attach the leash and allow her to drag it behind her so she can get used to pulling weight.

#5 – Use rewards. Learning how to wear a harness and walk on a leash can be a bit overwhelming for your cat. Don’t forget to reward her with head scratches, treats, and a bit of wet food. Ultimately you want her to associate the harness with a positive experience.

#6 – Let her lead the way.
Once she’s comfortable in the harness and you’re ready to take her outdoors let her lead the way. Walking a cat is a lot different than a dog in this way. Instead of guiding her to where you want to go, you’ll simply be accompanying her while she wanders and explores. This could mean taking a nice stroll down the sidewalk… but it could also mean hanging out for 20 minutes while your cat lays down in a sunbeam.

#7 – Find a quiet, safe place. Find a quiet and relatively unstimulating place to walk your cat until you’re both familiar with the experience. If you live in a bustling city you may want to consider crating your cat and driving to a remote area with less loud sounds and people. This will help keep your cat from feeling overwhelmed.

#8 – Set clear boundaries.
After getting a taste for the outdoors, some cats will want to be outside even more. Set clean boundaries to let your cat know that she’s not allowed to be outdoors without your supervision. When entering and leaving your home, be careful that your cat doesn’t dart outside.

#9 – Use a collar and ID tag. If your cat will be spending more time outside she should have a collar with an ID tag in case she slips out of the harness. Always be prepared so your cat will have the best chance of finding her way back to you if anything doesn’t go as planned.

#10 – Keep your cat healthy.
Walking your cat on a leash will expose your cat to some new dangers like having contact with other outdoor cats and parasites like fleas and ticks. Make sure she’s up to date on her vaccinations and that you have a good plan for fleas and ticks before she goes outside for the first time.

#11 – Be aware of the environment. Being aware of what’s going on around you will help you keep your cat safe while she’s exploring outdoors. This means keeping an eye out for other cats and dogs, as well as hazards like broken glass or poisonous plants.

#12 – Be aware of your cat’s body language.
Cats have incredibly fine tuned senses, so your cat may pick up on potential dangers quicker than you will. Keep an eye on her body language. Cut the walk short if she begins to show signs of distress like if her ears lay flat to her head, her eyes are wide, or if her body is slinking close to the ground.

Tips For Training Your Cat

Tips For Training Your Cat

You can’t train a feline, like you can a canine. Many times the owner will have to alter to fit in with the feline.

Each in your home, need to concur with what you are going to permit the feline to do. Do not alter the guidelines when you’ve chose them, as this can trigger problems.

– If your feline trusts you, it will most likely do what you desire, so speak in a calm tone.
– Your feline can inform if you are nervous, so do not stress if things fail. Keep one’s cool and begin once again.
– Don’t require training on your feline, just try it when it appears pleased to do so.
– Don’t move too rapidly, or the feline may misinterpret.
When teaching a kitty just do it for 1/2 hour a day and only repeat a couple of times, -. As a frustrated kittycat will not find out anything.
– If you are prohibiting something, correspond. Do not alter your mind, and stay with the exact same command.
– If you’ve captured your feline doing something bad, offer it a fast squirt of water from a plant sprayer. This will quickly suppress the behaviour.
– Never yell or injure at your feline, or it will associate you with the discomfort. If you feline is being bad, rather put some dry beans in a tin and shake it quickly.
– When the feline complies with, appreciation and stroke it.
– Treat your feline with food when it succeeds, it will find out to associate a great behaviour with food. Do not over do it, it will quickly so it without aid.
– Do not overlook your feline when you seethe at it, felines do not comprehend this behaviour and will feel insecure.

Your feline will not understand from the start that it needs to utilize a scratch post to hone its claws. You require to teach it to do so.

If your feline beings to assault the furnishings, plainly state ‘NO’. Take the feline to the scratching post and put its paws on it. You can scratch with your own nails too, as the sound will make the feline curious.

It might not like the material that covers it if your feline declines to utilize the scratch post. Attempt putting an old piece of clothes that smells like you over the board put some hemp rope around the scratching tree, or put down some straw mats, felines typically like these much better.

Make certain where your feline sleeps is comfy and peaceful. Supply your feline with a covered basket, with a soft filling such as a blanket or towel. You feline can escape in here and feel safe, however still have the ability to see things going on.

Do not let your feline plead, once it has actually formed this practice, you will not have the ability to break it. Do not succumb to a meowing feline! Keep your feline far from the table!
– Don’t provide your feline food from the table.
– Don’t offer deals with beyond feeding time, even if it desires them.
When consuming supper at the table, – Don’t put your feline on your lap.
– Set your feline particular feeding times.
– Feed your feline when you consume, so it will be inhabited.
– If you feline gets on your lap or the chair next door while you are consuming state ‘NO’ and put it far from the table.

You can’t train a feline, like you can a pet. A lot of times the owner will have to alter to fit in with the feline.

Take the feline to the scratching post and put its paws on it. You can scratch with your own nails too, as the sound will make the feline curious.

Keep your feline away from the dining table!

Walking Your Cat: How to Get Started

If you want to take your kitty for a stroll, try out a secure harness that wraps around her body and has a hook to attach a leash. Much like your own clothing does for you, the walking gear you purchase for your furry friend reflects her personality, so be sure to choose a harness and leash set (also referred to as a lead) that shows off her style.

Keep in mind that not all cats will take to the lead right away, if at all. As Petcha humorously notes, "if your cat hates being handled, she probably won't want your grabby mitts putting a harness on her. Nervous, timid kitties aren't good prospects for walks, either." As with most training, it's best to start when she's a kitten, but don't let her age keep you from trying.

When introducing anything new to your cat's daily schedule, such as a change in cat food or a new grooming routine, start slowly. Set out the harness and leash on the floor for the first day or two so that she can sniff and play with them so that she becomes accustomed to them. It's also a great idea to allow her to wear the harness around the house before giving it a test drive outside. Try taking a few walks around the house first to see how she likes it. Gauge her interest. If she doesn't seem excited about it at first, you can try it a couple more times, but never force it on her. You don't want your cat becoming anxious whenever she sees the harness or lead.

Although some cats are wary of the lead, others leap at the chance to get up and go. "He loves to be outside," says Erin Billie of her cat, Boogie, "and runs full speed from upstairs if he hears the sliding door open!" Boogie loves to explore the outdoors, and using a harness and leash allow him to do so safely. Additionally, it's great bonding time for Boogie and his mom.

When you take your cat outside for the first time, make it a short trip, just a few minutes will do, until she's comfortable being outside the home. She'll most likely perform what pet parents refer to as the "cat flop," where she goes limp and refuses to move. And that's OK. Giving her time and space will help you understand if a cat walk is worth the time and effort.

If you do decide to take your cat out for a stroll make sure prepare her before you leave the home:

  • Always make sure she has her collar on with an updated ID tag. Make sure it fits well and not something that she can wriggle out of. It's also probably a good idea to look into microchipping your cat if you plan to take her outdoors, so you can find her in the event she does get lost.
  • Make sure your cat is up to date on all of her flea, tick and heartworm medicine. This is a good idea for all cats, but especially crucial for kitties going outdoors.
  • Prepare her for any weather you might experience. A cat that is used to sitting in a 21 degrees celsius home all day, probably isn't prepared for cold winter walks. The same can be said of rain. If you take her on a summer stroll, make sure to bring water with you to keep her hydrated.
  • Keep her on a short leash. While you think taking your cat for a walk is perfectly normal, it's still a new trend. There is a chance that you meet people out walking their dog, and you want to keep your cat safe from any dog looking to explore this new creature. This will also help you keep her from chasing any wildlife she might encounter.

If you think your cat is up for the challenge (as her pet parent, you know her better than anyone), walking a cat is a great way for both of you to get some exercise. Just always make sure to keep her health and safety your first priority.

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