Most felines can be trained to walk with a cat harness and leash. Some cats will resist, but you can increase the chances of your cat learning to like cat walking. Follow these suggestions on how to train a cat to walk by your side.
Use a Proper Harness and Leash
It is important to use a cat harness rather than a collar. Collars, when used correctly, are good for purposes of identification. For cat walking, you need something that does not put pressure on your cat’s delicate neck. A cat can also easily slip out of a collar. A sturdy harness embraces the front part of the cat’s body to the mid back and holds her securely and comfortably. Use a lightweight leash made of nylon or cotton that is four to six feet long. It is best not to use a chain link leash. Besides, with a nylon or cotton one, you get to choose from a variety of colors and designs!
How to Train a Cat for Cat Walking
Begin to train your cat at 10 to 12 weeks of age. Older cats can be trained as well, but it is easier at a young age. The best time to put on the harness and leash is right before meals. That way kitty will associate them with the positiveness of eating.
Start with the harness. Make the process of putting it on kitty a pleasant experience for her. She needs to think this is a benefit to her, so pet and talk to Kitty while you are putting it on. Have her wear it for a short time every day. Play an interactive game with her while she is wearing the cat harness. Continue doing this daily until your cat easily accepts having the harness put on as well as wearing it.
Then it is time to progress to attaching the leash. Again, make it a fun, bonding time. Allow the cat to walk around the house with the leash trailing after her. Never leave kitty alone during this time because you do not want the leash to get caught on household objects.
When kitty is feeling comfortable wearing both the cat harness and leash you are ready to begin cat walking. Pick up the leash and follow her wherever she goes. Do not drag, tug or pull; rather, let her do the leading. You must continue to make this a positive experience for her so she realizes it is all to her own advantage, which it is! Utilize your patience and do not give up. Cats vary, and all of this will take longer with some felines than with others. In most cases, you and kitty will both be rewarded for your patience.
Now, during cat walking, you need to get your cat to follow you instead of you following your cat. Holding the leash, take several steps. Talk to kitty and when she follows you for a few steps, give her a kitty treat. Keep repeating. If she does not continue to follow you, pick her up and take her back to the starting point. Only give her a treat when she follows you on the leash. She will begin to cooperate with short distances at first, then progress to longer ones.
In addition to treats, another positive reward would be to walk your cat to her dish at feeding time, using the harness and leash.
When kitty will follow you all around the house, even when you change directions, it is time to begin cat walking outside. At first, stay on your porch or deck, then progress to your yard. Gradually expose kitty to longer walks and all the new outdoor smells, sights, and sounds. After awhile, walks with kitty may become a favorite time of day for both of you as you get daily exercise.
Caution: You may need to allow extra time for cat walking, because people will be stopping you to admire and ask questions about your well-trained cat!