You may have thought only dogs can be leashed and walked around. However, this isn’t the case and it’s possible to have your cat get used a harness and leash. With a little bit of training and choosing the right leash, you’ll be taking your cat for a walk outside in no time. Let’s explore how below:
Why cats don't roam free
Every pet whether it's a dog or cat loves the outdoors. However, in the urban cities we live in it can be quite dangerous for your pet if they’re out roaming unattended. Other humans, animals, and traffic can pose a threat. With cats, when they’re outside will be inclined to dash around and explain everything they see. This is where a leash is important but compared to a dog, cat’s will be harder to train.
Choosing the right harness for your cat
The type of harness is important. With cats, the harness should be well-fitted but not too tight as it’ll be uncomfortable for your cat and negate any training you try out. A loose fitting harness means your cat’s going to slip out easily. Let’s go over some key things to look for:
When it comes to harnesses for cats, there are a few common types such as butterfly jackets, vest harnesses, H harnesses, and figure 8 harnesses. All of these types are functionally great and it just comes down to comfort and mobility.
Once you’ve decided on the type of harness, the next criteria is the size. The best way to determine the right size is to use a measuring tape and evaluate your cat’s neck and chest girth. These two measurements are what’s required to pick the right size for your cat.
After size, material informs comfort and durability. You can find harnesses that are made from nylon, cotton, or leather. We recommend nylon as they’re the most comfortable but also durable. An added benefit is nylon is easy to clean as it’s machine wash friendly.
Warming your cat up to the harness
Once you’ve decided on the specific type of harness you think is best for your cat, now it’s time to introduce your cat to the harness and train them to be comfortable with it.
Start by having your cat get familiar with the harness before it’s even on. Do this by leaving it in your cat’s space, either near where your cat sleeps or where it eats. This way your cat will get familiar with the object and given it’s always in your cat’s safe space it’ll start associating with the harness in a positive way.
After a few days, try to place the harness gently on your cat’s neck and offer treats during this process to associate the act with a reward. This’ll help train them to not resist whenever you try to put the harness on in the future. Eventually, you’ll need to try and get the entire harness on your cat’s neck but before having it cover the rest of your cat’s body.
It’s rare your cat will remain calm and not resist against the process. Hold your cat gently and firmly while you put it on, and offer treats along the way to keep your cat calm. Repeat this a few times over the next few days where you put on and take the harness off to get your cat used to the process and comfortable.
Placing it on your cat
After you cat is more comfortable with the harness around its neck, then try and have the harness go over its chest, shoulders and under its front legs. As you do this, continue offering treats until it's fully on, then take it off and repeat the process over a few days to ease your cat into.
A few days of this should have your cat ready to fully adapt to the harness and now it's just a matter of ensuring it’s the correct fit. To check the right fit, try to place two fingers between the harness and your cat’s body and if this is possible then it’s not too tight for your cat. Leave it on your cat at this point without a leash attached and let your cat roam around to get comfortable with the harness. If you see your cat getting upset or irritated, offer pets and treats to ease the process. Carry out this process over a few days to ensure your cat is comfortable.
Attach the leash
If you’re confident that your cat is comfortable with the harness, all you need to do now is attach a leash to your cat’s harness and let your cat walk around. Let your cat drag the leash around the floor, this is just a process of now getting your cat used to the leash attached to the harness.
Start by walking your cat indoors
If your cat seems comfortable to this point, now try and pick up the leash and walk your cat around inside the house. Whenever your cat’s distressed, offer reassurance through pets and treats to let your cat know everything is alright.
Take your cat outdoors
The final step is to now take your cat outside with the harness and the leash. Your cat will be startled and stressed a bit by the process of going outside and being in an unfamiliar territory. You’ll notice your cat speeding about and pulling on the leash. Just remember to gently control your cat and ensure your cat explores around slowly and safely.
Walking your cat is a rewarding experience not only for your cat but for you as well. It’ll not only satiate your cat’s curiosity of the world but also provide your cat with some healthy exercise. This form of leash training pays benefits for a variety of scenarios too. You can have your cat trained and ready should you ever need to take your cat with you on vacation, on planes, and even to the vet. Cat’s can be trained to be comfortable with harnesses and leashes, it’s just a matter of easing them into the process and being patient as they get used to it. Younger cats will adapt more easily while an older cat may put up a bigger fight. Remember, just like humans, new environments bring about new diseases or viruses so make sure your cat has all its necessary vaccinations before taking them outside the comfort of your home.