How to Train a Cat to Walk on a Leash
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How to Train a Cat to Walk on a Leash

Learn how to train a cat to wear a harness. Learn how to train a cat to walk on a leash. Training a cat to walk on a leash is a good way of having control over where it goes when outdoors and can help keep it safe. It is not as easy to train a cat to walk on a leash, as it is to train a dog, but it can be done, learn how.

After you have trained your cat to accept a collar, the next step might be to train it to walk on a leash. This is not as simple as training a dog to walk on a leash, cats feel no desire to be with you, and will be more resistant overall to the whole process, nonetheless it can be done, cats can be trained to walk on a leash, with consistent training and patience.

As mentioned your cat must first be willing to accept a collar, however collars are not used for walking cats since the cat will very quickly pull back and free itself. Training it to accept a collar will help the cat accept a harness which is what is used to walk a cat.

Once the cat has accepted the collar, your next step is getting it to accept a harness. There are many types of harnesses for pets, be sure to get one made for cats. You will also need a leash, again select one that is made for cats as it will be more light weight than a dog leash.

With the cat inside put the harness on without the leash. Let the cat get the feel for it. Most will roll around and try to get it off. You can distract the cat by offering it food and rewarding it. Remove the harness after a while,and never leave it on if you cannot supervise the cat. Repeat this a few times a day, making sure to reward the cat when it is wearing the harness, in fact this can be a good time to feed it a bit of canned cat food.

When you are confident the cat has accepted the harness you can add the leash, again doing so in the house. The cat will be very resistant to you trying to pull it anywhere. Give a little tug, and offer a treat. The cat will learn that responding to the tug gets a reward. If it pulls away from you stay put so it realizes it is attached. Offer the treat so it knows to move towards the source of the pull. Eventually the cat will learn that it can relieve the pressure of the tug but responding to it.

Keep training sessions short. Cats will get fed up and frustrated if you try to train it for too long. End on a positive note, give a small tug, offer a treat (or small plate of canned food) when the cat responds to the tug, remove the harness.

photo source

Practice should be done once, or twice, a day, for a few days indoors. When you are confident your cat understands how to respond to the pull from the leash you can go outside. Again keep some treats just in case the cat panics and tries to pull away.

Some people tie their cats in the backyard using the leash and harness. This can be very dangerous and should only be done if you can supervise the cat. Not only could the cat become tangled and strangle itself, but the cat could be easily attacked by stray cats, dogs, or even stolen.

In general the best time to start training a cat to walk on a leash is when it is young, however cats that are not vaccinated and spayed or neutered, should not go outside.

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Comments (9)

People used to always think my cats were so cute when on a leash.  It's the safest way to travel when in unfamiliar places.  You can be sure they won't get lost and give them some exercise in new and interesting ways.

Very interesting and useful tips. I love cats. Thank you Branda.

It would seem so nice for the cat to be able to enjoy the out of doors, but to remain safe by being on the leash. The best of both worlds. 

Ranked #14 in Cats

Great article.  The cat picture you used looks just like a cat I had named Spanky.  I lived in town years ago and I trained my cat to walk with a leash so nothing would happen to him.

Too Cool Brenda, Loved this article...Peace Jaz

Ranked #8 in Cats

This was a brilliant instructional. I have had cats and dogs all my life as companions, but I had never thought about training any of my cats to walk on a leash.

Ranked #16 in Cats

Great suggestions and hopefully, not too many people are tying their cats outside.  That's bad!

Excellent overview. Voted and appreciated.

Excellent article. As a former "cat Mom", I never tried this. Our female part-persian Lucy loved to ride in the car - happy to sit on my Mum's lap. I always took her cage just in case she needed to be in it.