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Training Your Cat to Walk With a Leash


by C Swarens

Photo by Robyn-Gallagher

cat on a leashOne advantage that dog owners have long had over cat owners is the ability to take their pets out for a walk on a leash. If you envy those dog owners and you would like to take your precious kitty for a walk outside, just follow these simple steps to train your cat to use a leash.

Choosing the Right Leash

The first step toward training your cat to use a leash is to choose the right type of leash. While dogs may be satisfied with using a collared leash, the same is not true with cats. In fact, cats will often slip right out of a collar. Therefore, it is better to obtain a harness that fits around the cat’s chest instead. Another option is a walking jacket, which is very difficult for a cat to get out of and can be quite comfortable for your pet.

Getting Your Cat Used to the Harness

Before you even attempt to put the harness on your cat, simply place it where your pet likes to take naps and let it stay there for a few days. That way, your cat can get used to its smell and appearance.

Once your cat has been sufficiently exposed to the harness and leash, put it on him right before mealtime. Make sure there is enough room for you to place two fingers between the harness and your pet’s skin. Once the harness is in place, feed your pet its favorite meal and give it plenty of praise. Allow your pet to wear the harness for a little while and try to make him as comfortable as possible. If he seems to be bothered by the harness, try to distract him by encouraging him to play with his favorite toy.

After your cat seems to be comfortable with the harness, take it off. Repeat this process or several days and leave the harness on for a little longer each time.

Introducing the Leash

Now that your cat is comfortable with the harness, go ahead and attach the leash. Don’t try to lead your kitty at this point. Rather, allow him to walk around the house with the leash attached. Be sure to keep a close eye on your feline friend so you can make certain he doesn’t get the leash tangled up. Repeat this process for several days.

After your cat has had the opportunity to explore on his own with the leash in tow, go ahead and pick up your end of the leash. Don’t try to move your cat in any direction. Rather, continue to allow him to lead the way and keep the tension slack. Repeat this step for several days before you start encouraging your cat to follow you.

When encouraging your cat to follow you, you should simply talk to him and lightly pull on the leash. Be sure you aren’t fighting your cat. Rather, try to make the training process as pleasurable as possible.

Once your cat seems comfortable with this process, you can move it outdoors. Keep your outdoor excursions short at first and gradually increase the time you spend outdoors and the places you visit. Before you know it, you will be enjoying long outdoor walks with your feline companion.

CS Swarens is the president of Find a Pet Online (800 998-7065).
For additional information on dogs, cats, birds, horses, and exotic pets visit the internet’s pet resource including pet classifieds at Research over 430 pet breed profiles at


About Author

Devoted pet owner and now, devoted pet editor, Judi worked in traditional offices, keeping the books and the day-to-day operations organized. Taking her dog to work every day for over a decade never seemed odd. Neither did having an office cat. She knows what it's like to train a new puppy and she's experienced the heartache of losing beloved companions. Retired, she currently lives with her spoiled dog and four chickens (who are, interestingly enough, also spoiled).


  1. This is really cool; I think my little Buddy just might go for it this way. I’m a little leery to take him outside though; he already has a habit of sneaking out once in a while, I’m afraid taking him out might make the sneaking happen more often.

  2. Great information! We’ve tried to harness train our cat in the past, but we always move through the process WAY too quickly, so it doesn’t work. Hopefully if we take these steps SLOWLY, we can get our cat to walk on a leash. I just LOVE the thought of walking down the road with our cat leading the way :).

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