Approximately 25 percent of American families include a feline member. Although the number of cat owners is relatively high, there are still many more dog owners in the United States.
Why do so many people prefer dogs over cats? Oftentimes, people have the misconception that cats are independent and that they don't make ideal companions. Yet, cats can do many of the same things that dogs can, including walking on a leash.
Although teaching your cat this skill requires patience and training, it can be done. This post will share how to train your cat to walk on a leash!
It will also give you some cat training tips that you will find useful, no matter what trick you want to teach your furry friend!
Choosing the Right Harness
Cat collars are typically for identification purposes, but they aren't ideal for leash training. Unlike dogs, cats can easily slip out of a collar.
Therefore, it is best to use a harness made specifically for cats when leash training. Harnesses designed for dogs or other animals may not fit your cat properly, which will increase the risk of it getting away outside. Your cat would also find an ill-fitting harness uncomfortable, which would make training it all the more difficult.
To ensure that your feline is at ease, you can pick out a harness made from a soft material. Your cat won't feel as restricted and should be able to walk normally.
In addition, the harness should have a D-ring on the back, since this is where you will attach the leash.
Most often, harnesses have adjustable straps to fit the animal correctly. You can check that the harness is snug by inserting two fingers underneath. If you can fit more fingers, it is too loose.
On the other hand, the harness shouldn't be so tight that your cat is uncomfortable. So if you can't get two of your fingers under the harness, loosen it a bit.
Picking Out a Leash for Your Cat
The best leashes for cats are four to six feet in length. Longer leashes or those that are retractable, make training your cat more difficult. However, you can use them later on if you would like.
How to Train Your Cat to Walk on a Leash
Training your feline to walk on a leash is a gradual process. Let's break it down into five easy steps!
1. Get Your Cat Used to the Harness
Without attaching the leash, place the harness on your cat. Once the harness is on, you can give your cat a treat, but avoid rewarding it while the harness is off.
You should repeat this process, gradually increasing the amount of time your cat wears its harness.
2. Start Using the Leash
Once your cat feels comfortable with the harness, you can start getting it used to the leash. At first, you should allow your cat to walk where it wants. You can follow it but hold the leash loosely in your hand.
Reward your cat with a treat while it wears the harness and leash, just as you did in step one.
3. Introduce Leash Tension
The next step is getting your cat comfortable with the weight of the leash. Start by letting the cat drag the leash behind it while moving around the house
Just be sure to supervise your animal while it wears the leash, since it could get tangled somewhere and pose a hazard for your pet.
4. Walk Your Cat Indoors
As in step one, place the harness and leash on your cat and follow it around. After it has walked a few minutes, try to guide it to another area of the room gently.
If you'd like, you can drop treats on the floor or use your fingers to lure your cat. When it moves in the right direction, reward, and praise it.
5. Start Walking Outside
After you've practiced walking indoors and your cat is comfortable with the idea, you can try going outside.
Start by walking your cat to the door and encouraging it to go outside on its own. You can toss a treat outside to lure it, but if the cat feels scared or hesitates, it is best to stop for the day. You can try again later.
If you finally get your cat to come outdoors, you should keep the training sessions short and bring treats. Reward it and always end the walk on a positive note. This will reinforce the idea in your cat's mind that walks are a good thing and no reason to be afraid.
From time to time, your cat may get scared while walking in a new area. If this happens, resort to a place that you have explored in the past and avoid picking up your cat.
Moreover, it would help if you avoid places that are more likely to startle your pet, such as busy roads, dog parks, or construction zones.
Keep Your Cat Safe
While there are many benefits to walking your cat on a leash, it does increase its risk for fleas, ticks, heartworms, and other parasites. So be sure to speak to your veterinarian about preventative options before venturing outside with your feline.
Furthermore, you should avoid letting your cat go outside without its leash or tying it up somewhere. Both of these things make it likely that your cat escapes from you and gets lost.
Successful Cat Leash Training is Possible
Although it may require some persistence, leash training for cats is possible. With the help of this article, you know how to train your cat to walk on a leash. You also understand how to keep them safe in the process!
Now it's time to put these cat leash training tips to use! Good luck!