How to Leash Train Your Cat
As the weather gets warmer, you’ll likely be spending more time outside. Have you considered that your cat might like some fresh air too? Being outside can be a great source of enrichment for your cat as they experience new sights, smells, and sounds. The best way to keep them safe if you decide your furry friend would enjoy some time outdoors is to keep them on a leash. Here’s some advice on how to leash train your kitty so they can have fun and stay safe when they’re outside.
The first step is to get a cat harness and a leash. Do not use a collar as your cat may be able to maneuver out of it. A harness is more secure and also won’t strain their neck and throat. Make sure the harness fits snug on their body so that they won’t be able to slip out of it. A four foot leash is a good length for a cat. They will have enough distance to explore but still be close enough to you to remain safe.
Next, you want your cat to get used to wearing their harness indoors. If you’ve ever tried to put an outfit on your cat, you know they don’t always enjoy wearing things. Give them plenty of time to get accustomed to the harness and reward them with treats or playtime while they’re wearing the harness so they associate wearing the harness with having a good time. You can start with having your cat wear the harness for 10-15 minutes a day until they are used to it and wear it with no problem.
Once your cat is comfortable wearing their harness, you can attach the leash to it and just let them drag it around. They may play with the leash or they may be confused by it at first. Once they are fine with the leash trailing behind them, you can practice walking your cat around the house. They will learn how far they can venture away from you while on leash and get used to walking together with you.
After your cat is used to walking with you indoors on leash, you can practice outside. Start in a quiet area, ideally a backyard or courtyard, where they can feel safe and not overwhelmed by wide open spaces. Allow your cat time to get used to their surroundings and see and smell new things. Don’t rush your cat, let them wander around at their own pace and enjoy the experience. They will likely want to lounge around, birdwatch, and enjoy the view rather than go on long walks like a dog. Being outside will provide them enrichment as well as a nice change of pace from being indoors.
Once you and your cat are both confident and comfortable being outside in your safe zone, you can start going on bigger adventures. Enjoy new spaces and places while creating lifelong memories.