If you have an indoor cat, you may have been wishing for a while now that you could take a stroll with your feline friend and show him what the world outside looks like. That desire is not impossible to achieve, but naturally it requires a little training. If you are not familiar with the steps you need to follow to teach your cat to walk on a leash, here are several tips to consider.
1. One step at a time
Before you and your pet set off on this journey, bear in mind that it may take some time to reach the goal. Be armed with a lot of patience and care, and do not try to force any behavior. This is going to be a gradual process, so you simply need to let your cat slowly learn and acquire the new habit. Rushing and pressuring will only push you further away from the desired outcome.
2. Starting early
In case you have a kitten, don’t wait for it to grow up to begin the training. It will very likely take less time for your cat to learn while it is still really young, and it will take to the leash a lot more easily than a mature animal. Older cats pretty much know what their day looks like, and they are used to certain activities and objects. So with them, introducing a new, strange habit may be a bit of a challenge in comparison to training kittens.
3. Purchase a harness instead of a collar
You may already have your mind set on a particular collar you saw, but that choice will not do your cat any good. Standard collars can be harmful for cats, as they might injure, or even strangle, them. Your cat could also escape the collar and run away. Find a good pet shop that carries the bare necessities; a harness and leash. You can purchase top-notch pet supplies online as well, if you prefer a wider range of equipment to choose from, and already know exactly what will suit (and fit) your furry friend.
4. Careful how you introduce the harness and leash
Make sure you go about this step strategically. Gradually introduce the harness and leash to your pet — leave them next to her food so it looks at her while she’s eating, or show them to your cat while you are petting him and giving him treats. The goal is to create a positive association when your cat sees the harness, so he does not get frightened and start avoiding it.
When you notice your cat has gotten used to the new objects, you can try putting the harness on. Refrain from using force. When you put it on, you must not forget to reward your feline friend. Praise, pet, and feed her frequently, so she gets used to the harness more easily. Positive reinforcement is key here.
5. Give your cat time to grow accustomed to the leash before trying to take walks
Despite being impatient to have an outdoor adventure with your pet, do not try to rush the progress, as you may produce a counter-effect. First, let the kitty get totally comfortable walking on a leash indoors, and give it as much time as it needs. Only when you are absolutely sure that you can go out for your first outdoor walk, do so.
6. Choose adequate surroundings for the first walks
Avoid any areas where you know your cat may get frightened by other animals or feel threatened because of too much noise, traffic, or other possible disturbances. You want the first outdoor walks to be a joyful experience that would encourage your friend to accept them as a habit. Also, do not ever leave your cat alone, unsupervised. If you tie the leash to something and let your pet wait for you, it could get tangled or hurt itself. Also, it cannot run away if another animal is trying to attack it!
Although it may seem impossible at first, training your cat to walk on a leash is not an impossible task. You just need to learn to be patient, and put yourself in its shoes to understand its behavior and needs better and to figure out how best to approach the issue.