As opposed to what you might have heard, it’s possible to train your cats to do things dogs do.
And, the truth? Some cats are completely in love with outdoor walks. Cats are born as natural homebodies. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise when most owners think of their cats as indoor companions alone. Nevertheless, your fur baby might be craving more adventure than your 4-walls could possibly provide.
Simply put, just as how you train your cat to do activities such as getting used to traveling in a backpack, it also needs to be trained on how to walk on a leash.
Back to the basics: Why should you leash train your cat?
To begin with, if you are not completely clear with the concept of leash training, it simply means teaching your cat to feel comfortable walking in a tether attached to a jacket or harness.
The purpose of doing so would be to help your cat explore the benefits of the outside world in a safe and controllable manner.
What do you need to leash train your cat?
A well-fitted cat harness/a cat-walking jacket, a leash, and the technical know-how on how to train your cat are all you need to get started.
A step-by-step approach to leash training your cat
Step 1: Choosing a harness and a leash.
When choosing the best harness and leash for your cat, you’d go for something that makes your cat feel comfortable. The same trick applies here.
Before pulling out your credit card at the store, be sure the harness is snug and fits securely. However, it should not be too tight. Needless to say, if the harness is too tight, your cat would spend most of the time thinking of how uncomfortable it is to stay in the harness than it would spend learning to walk in it.
A good way to confirm how tight a harness is is by sliding two fingers into the harness when it’s on your cat. If your fingers cannot fit in properly, it’s probably too tight. If more than two fingers fit in, the harness might be too loose.
As regards picking a leash, begin with a lightweight leash that is about 4-6 feet long.
Step 2: Introduce a harness
After choosing the appropriate harness, the next step is to make your cat feel comfortable in the harness. It needs to derive a positive experience from wearing the harness, and you know what that means- food.
You can begin with allowing the cat to sniff the harness and then give him food afterward. Also, you could try leaving the harness in the cat dish.
While trying the harness on, keep in mind that the time needed to adjust to wearing a harness varies from cat to cat, ranging from a few hours to several days. Either way, be sure to praise your cat and give it treats whenever the harness is on.
As the cat gets comfortable in the harness, try fastening it. Allow the cat to walk freely in the harness for as long as it is comfortable in it.
Step 3: Teach your cat to walk on a leash
It might take several days or weeks for your cat to get used to walking around in the harness. But, once your cat is comfortable in it, it’s time to put it on the leash.
Take your cat to a room with little or no furniture where he is less likely to snag the leash. Allow the leash to drag behind him as you feed him treats. As a dragging leash could be alarming for some cats, it is best to allow your cat to wander freely while you hold the leash.
If your cat doesn’t have so much experience with being outdoors, he might be anxious or frightened when you take him outside for the first time. So, take things slowly. Stay behind your cat and let him take the lead. He should be the one deciding how far he wants to go- not you.
Let your kitty call the shots!