How to Teach your Cat to Walk on a Leash and Harness
by Dashu Mai on Oct 08, 2022
Walking your cat may sound like something only crazy cat ladies do, but it can actually be a great way to bond with your feline friend and give them some much-needed exercise. While it may take some patience, teaching your cat to walk on a harness is definitely possible, and we’re here to help you every step of the way.
Getting Your Cat Used to the Harness
Purchase a harness that is made for cats or small pets. There are cute ones available at a very affordable cost! The next step is getting your cat accustomed to the harness. Put it on them while they’re eating or playing so that they associate it with positive activities. Let them wear it around the house for short periods of time so that they can get used to the feel of it. Don’t try to force them into it—if they seem uncomfortable or resistant, take a step back and try again another day.
Using the Leash
Walking your cat on a leash may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite easy once you get the hang of it. Your cat will do best if you proceed to the next step slowly. Let your cat get used to the idea of wearing a harness and being on a leash. Once your cat seems okay with the harness, you can attach the leash and let your cat walk around indoors. Remember to go slowly at first and give plenty of treats along the way. Your cat may also respond well to fun toys during the practice time.
Introducing Them to the Outdoors
Once your cat is comfortable wearing the harness with a lead attached, it’s time to start taking them outside. Begin by just opening the door and letting them see and smell the great outdoors. If they seem curious, encourage them further by offering treats or toys near the door. When they’re ready, step outside with them and let them explore at their own pace. Remember to let them set the pace. If they seem scared or overwhelmed, go back inside and try again another day.
Keeping your Cat Happy
As your cat gets better at wearing the leash and harness in your own area, offer plenty of treats and affection. Your cat may enjoy sitting on the ground near you. Stroke your cat gently or use a brush, and offer a treat so that the whole experience is a good one.
Exploring the Neighborhood
After your cat has had a few successful outings in your own area, you can venture out into the neighborhood. A nearby park can be a great opportunity as well. For safety, you may want to have a cat carrier nearby. If you are going far, put a folding canvas carrier in a backpack in case you encounter issues. Again, go at their pace and let them lead the way. The most important thing is that they’re enjoying themselves and getting some exercise. If at any point you encounter something unsafe, like a loose dog, or your cat seems fearful, put them inside a carrier. You can try again when things are calm.
With a little patience and persistence, you can teach your cat to enjoy walks on a harness—and reap all the benefits that come along with it. Just remember to go at their pace, praise their successes, however small, and have fun!