How To Train Your Cat To Walk On A Leash

Ever seen a cat walking on a harness and wondered how on Earth they got their kitty to do that? Some cats seems to naturally have no issue with it. Others need some help getting used to the idea. Tobi Kosanke, President of Crazy K Farm, who created the Kitty Holster cat harness, also wrote the training manual on getting your cat used to walking on lead.  She shared with us her steps to training your cat to walk on a harness.

#1 – Familiarize

Get your cat used to the harness by leaving the harness in your cat’s sleeping area for a few days.

Image source:  @JETheriot via Flickr
Image source: @JETheriot via Flickr

Click page 2 below for the next step!

#2 – Distract

Distract your cat with treats [or toys] while you put the Kitty Holster on your cat. Be sure to praise your cat while putting the harness on.

Image source: Tobi Kosanke
Image source: Tobi Kosanke

#3 – Check Fit

If you are using a Kitty Holster on your cat, open the Velcro, place the harness over your cat’s back, and close the collar and girth. Regardless of the harness chosen, check to make sure that it fits comfortably, but snugly – if the harness is too loose or if there is a large flap on the collar or chest, you need a smaller size.

Image source: @LWYang Via Flickr
Image source: @LWYang Via Flickr

#4 – Watch for Stress

If your cat becomes stressed, speak to your cat in a friendly voice, take the harness off, and try again tomorrow. Don’t give up! Your cat will eventually get used to the harness.

Image source: @SarahBeth via Flickr
Image source: @SarahBeth via Flickr

#5 – Add the leash

Once your kitty is used to the harness and is not showing signs of stress, attach a leash. If your cat is timid or easily spooked, let your cat walk inside while keeping the leash slack and not restricting your cat’s movement.

Image source: @Fauxto-digit via Flickr
Image source: @Fauxto-digit via Flickr

#6 – Move Outdoors Quickly

Motivate your cat by taking it outdoors as quickly as possible. Open the door and ask, “Do you want to go outside for a walk?” Be sure to have treats.

Image source: @JETheriot via flickr
Image source: @JETheriot via flickr

#7 – Location

Choose a safe location outdoors to walk your cat, ideally your front yard, back yard or in a quiet neighborhood or park. Stay away from high traffic or crowded areas that can frighten your cat. Keep the door open and give your cat time to get used to the outside world. A cat is not a dog: it can take weeks or months for your cat to feel safe in a new area!

Image source: Tobi Kosanke
Image source: Tobi Kosanke

#8 – Encourage Moving

If your cat is reluctant to move, try putting a treat on the ground next to your cat’s nose. After your cat finishes the treat, put another one on the ground about a foot away. Repeat until your cat is comfortable moving in the harness. You may initially have to gently lift your cat. Be sure to offer praise. If your cat becomes alarmed and returns indoors, try again tomorrow.

Image source: Tobi Kosanke
Image source: Tobi Kosanke

#9 – Be Aware of Your Body Language

Always stand to the side and rear of your cat, and use diagonal or sideways resistance to direct your cat. Your cat will move in the direction of least resistance.

Image source: @DarrenDay via Flickr
Image source: @DarrenDay via Flickr

#10 – Teach a Return Cue

Create a signal that it is time to end the walk by telling your cat it is “Time to go home” followed by carrying your cat inside. Once indoors, offer your cat a treat immediately and remove the harness promptly.

Image source:  @LindaTanner via Flickr
Image source: @LindaTanner via Flickr

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