Training a cat to walk on a lead can be a revolutionary way of spending time together in the great outdoors, especially if you’ve an indoor cat.
However, walking your cat on a lead can be like feeding your kids veggies. They either like it or they don’t. And while you persevere until your kids eat their veggies (hopefully), the same can’t be said of cats.
Walking your cat on a leash is up to your cat. Like everything else in their life, if a cat doesn’t wish it, there’s no point in trying to change their mind. That said, if it’s an activity your kitty will greatly cherish, it’s very much up to you to make it happen.
Train a cat to walk on a lead in 6 easy steps
Although most cats have an independent streak, they’re prone to loving ‘we time’ as much as ‘me time’. Walking mittens is a great way to maximise we time, so take your time in making it a positive experience.
Don’t rush, and try out these six steps:
- Assess. Is your cat a likely candidate to want to go for a walk?
- Shop. Kit up for the catwalk with harness and leash
- Harness train. Get your cat used to the harness on its own
- Leash train. Now it’s time to add the leash
- Walk indoors. Baby steps
- Walk outdoors. One small step outside, one big step for cat-kind
It’s enormously important to prepare your cat for walking outside on a leash. The only way to get it right is doing it in stages, and not to rush it. Cats can get spooked when forced into unknown and potentially scary scenarios.
Rushing out with meow on a leash without adequate preparation could be traumatising and turn them off the idea entirely – check out this video to see what that could potentially look like:
1. Assess the cat walk cues
Does your cat scratch at the door, or just hang out around it? Does he or she gaze longingly at the window? They could be telling you what you want to hear, aka “Take me for a walk on a lead, purr-dy please.”
Of course, you should follow your instinct (and your cat) on this one. Then follow these steps to get your cat mentally and physically prepped for the catwalk.
Also, read up on friendliest cat breeds and which ones are more inclined to go walking on a lead.
2. Shop for equipment
You’ll need an H-style harness or a vest harness plus a lead. Don’t cut corners by test walking your cat using a leash and their cat collar. You have to invest in a proper cat harness if you’re going to walk outside.
Cat collars simply aren’t secure enough. Read all about the breakaway cat collars that are safe for general use and see why you can’t use them with a lead. Non-breakaway cat collars can pose the same level of danger.
Cats invariably (might) escape the confines of the unnatural burden otherwise known as a collar. However, when you’re expanding your horizons into walking with your cat, security is a must and so is a harness.
3. How to harness train your cat
Gently put the harness on meow and let her walk around the house to get used to the feeling. Be sure to stroke her and say nice things. There’s also no harm in throwing in a few treats.
You might also keep the harness in your bed for a few days beforehand. This way it will have your familiar scent which translates as ‘safe and loved’.
What you’re doing is getting her accustomed to wearing the harness in her natural and safe environment. And you’re using petting, treats and scent to positively reinforce the harness.
Always supervise your cat once the harness is on. You don’t want it hooking or snagging on something when you’re not there.
4. Getting used to the leash
Just as you’ve done with the harness, you can get meow used to the leash by clipping it onto the harness. Let them walk around the house with the leash trailing and continue to supervise and use positive reinforcement.
It’s important to know there’s no set timeframe for how long you spend getting your cat used to their harness and leash. And of course, the more time you can spend letting them get used to these accessories the better.
5. Getting a cat to walk on a lead – indoors
Now that kitty is used to her accoutrements, you can start taking her on walks around the house. You can even use treats to make a cat trail for her to follow and motivate walking. Otherwise, she might not get the drift and simply flop out on the couch leaving you standing with a useless leash in hand. 😊
6. Getting a cat to walk on a lead – outdoors
Once you’ve successfully completed these steps, you’re ready to walk outdoors. Remember to bring along treats and take note of the following:
- Stick to quiet spaces without dogs
- Follow your cat for the first few walks, rather than leading her
- Start choosing the direction on the third walk and apply gentle tension on the leash to show which way to go
Your walks might be short and you’re back home after five minutes. On the flipside, your cat might want to smell and roll in every nook and cranny along the way.
It might be a slow walk – bring along a book or use the time to check your emails on your phone. Other than that, enjoy spending quality time with your meowser.
How to walk a cat on a leash
The process can take some time, and there’s no need to rush. Plus, what works for one cat may not work for another.
The steps involved can be stretched over several months, weeks, or days. It just depends on your and mittens’ schedule and willingness.
Cat insurance for a soft landing
Lewis Carrol, author of Alice in Wonderland, once said, “Cats choose us; we don’t own them.” That sounds a bit like walking a cat on a lead: cats choose to walk on a lead, we don’t get to decide.
When it comes to pet insurance, cats depend on us to choose it for them. Our choice of three tail-ored cat insurance plans gives you a wide range of options, with cover for just about every injury, illness and wellness requirement.