Getting a cat used to the leash and harness is an important operation for the safety and well-being of the cat. We explain how to do it.
As some people may already know, the idea of walking a cat on a leash isn’t as crazy as it might initially seem. However, such an activity requires an adequate period of preparation, because it is not an animal that easily tolerates this type of limitation. So let’s talk about how to get a cat used to a leash and harness.
Teaching your cat to walk on a leash will allow him safe access to the outdoors. Leash training can also be a good starting point if you plan to let him roam outside on his own.
When teaching your cat to walk on a leash it is important to remember that the outside view may have a negative effect alienating effect for a cat who has spent a lot of time indoors: so be patient if he appears alarmed or frightened at first. It will take time for him to be comfortable with a harness on and especially with a space that he doesn’t know, so take things slowly and reward him for every little progress.
Even before starting this journey with your four-legged friend, it is advisable to choose the harness and leash that are right for him, based on his age, weight and size.
Particular attention requires the harness, which must not be too tight (so as not to be annoying or painful for the animal) nor too loose (so that he cannot take it off by himself): you will understand that it fits him perfectly if you can to slide two fingers under it when you put it on.
Matter Of Habit
We would like to underline once again that cats, unlike dogs, do not like to be guided and limited in their movements: depending on their character and age, they could be unwilling towards the harness and leash even after repeated attempts on your part, therefore don’t try to force them at all costs but arm yourself with patience and proceed slowly, aware that your efforts could still be in vain.
As it is easy to understand, the first tests must be carried out within the walls of the house and simply consist in getting the cat used to the sight of the harness, perhaps by associating it with games or food.
The next step will be to make him wear it: start by trying to keep it on him for a few minutes and increase the duration slightly each day, until he is completely comfortable. It’s about the most delicate moment, beyond which you will already be at a good point on your journey, but if you see that your pet does not tolerate it, avoid further stressing it. Otherwise, don’t hesitate to reward him with cuddles, compliments and some delicious morsels.
Add The Leash
Once you have passed this first phase, try to hook the leash to your cat’s harness. At first don’t resist, simply let him drag him along and continue to move freely: it is important that at least at first you do not associate him with an idea of movement constraint.
Only after a few days you can try to drive it along short routes pre-established inside the house, perhaps using food or games to attract his attention but never yanking him.
Who lives in a house equipped with garden he will probably have an advantage in the delicate task of accustoming an indoor cat to outdoors: it is a restricted environment, relatively familiar and much safer than the street or a park. Consider that in any case an open space could scare him, so proceed only if the cat does not appear too insecure at the idea of crossing the threshold of the house.
If you feel that the animal is ready to take it one step further, take it out for short trips, initially no longer than a few minutes. Depending on his reaction and the time it will take him to get used to it, evaluate whether to lengthen the duration of your walks and vary the routes by moving away from home. Look closely and avoid forcing it rewarding him instead for any progress shown.
- Don’t expect your cat to behave like a dog once he gets to know the outside world: he certainly won’t stay by your side, and could react in many ways to the new stimuli to which he is exposed. Indulge him as much as possible in his explorations while still making sure that he is safe and that the leash does not get out of hand.
- Have all the tests done by your vet vaccinations necessary for your pet before it comes into contact with other animals or new environments, which could transmit diseases to it.