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How To Train Your Cat to Walk With a Leash

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cat wearing walking jacket and leash

Your cat may just lie down, until he becomes accustomed to the harness and leash. This is fine.

Franny Syufy
Whether your cat is exclusively indoors, or an indoor-outdoor variety, there are times you'll need to keep him confined with a leash. Even older cats can be trained, given patience.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Varies

Here's How:

  1. Purchase a comfortably-fitting harness and lightweight leash with a secure clip. Do not use a collar, as the cat may be able to slip out of it. You want the leash to pull from the chest rather than the throat. The cats' Walking Jacket is a fine alternative to a harness, virtually escape free, and with the leash attached mid-back, for comfort.
  2. Put the harness and leash somewhere near kitty's sleeping area and leave it there for several days to accustom him to it's appearance and smell.
  3. Wait until just before his normal mealtime, then put the harness on the cat. You should be able to comfortably slip two fingers between the harness and his skin.
  4. Immediately feed him his favorite meal and praise him when he is finished.
  5. Let him wear the harness for awhile. If it seems to bother him, distract him by playing with a favorite toy.
  6. When your cats seems to be accustomed to the harness, take it off.
  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 for several days, leaving the harness on longer each time.
  8. Next, attach the leash to the harness and let kitty walk around the house, dragging the leash. Watch him carefully that he doesn't get tangled up around furniture.
  9. Praise him for being such a good cat, and give him some loving hugs.
  10. Repeat steps 8 and 9 for a few days, until the cat seems to accept the harness and leash.
  11. Now, let him walk around as usual, but pick up the business end of the leash and follow him in his wanderings. Keep the tension slack, so as not to restrict his movement.
  12. Practice step 11 for a few days.
  13. Teach kitty to follow you by talking to him in a cajoling manner and lightly pulling on the lead. Don't fight him. Leash-training should be a pleasurable experience for the cat, not an adversarial one. On the other hand, if he tugs at the leash, simply stop until he relaxes, then move on.
  14. You're ready to move outdoors now. Do it gradually, and take your first short excursions in your own back yard, or in a quiet area.
  15. Gradually increase his exposure to the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors. Soon, the two of you will be able to enter walkathons together.

Tips:

  1. Patience, patience, patience. Stay tune to your cat's reactions and let him guide you at his own pace. Don't let this training become a battle of the wills, because you will surely lose.
  2. If you have more than one cat, it may actually be easier to train the second one, because she will want to follow the first.

What You Need

  • Sturdy Harness
  • Lightweight leash
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