Taking your indoor cat to explore outside can be fun for both you and your kitty. Before you step foot outside, however, training your cat to walk on a leash is essential for safety. Not sure where to start? Check out these five tips for leash training your cat.
Choose the Right Harness and Leash
First, you’ll want to choose the right gear for your indoor kitty. While some cats prefer the simpler combination of a leash and a collar, others do better with a harness and leash. Since the latter creates less strain on your cat’s neck, can make your kitty feel more secure, and can give you more control over your pet’s safety, a harness is a good choice for most cats. Be sure to choose one that fits your cat snugly yet comfortably.
Introduce the Harness and Leash Gradually
Rather than slipping the harness onto your kitty right away, give your cat time to get used to the new gear. Leave the harness and leash out where your cat can check out and play with them indoors. Try dragging the unattached leash across the floor to encourage your cat to chase it and get comfortable with it.
Once your kitty has gotten used to the new gear, which could take a couple days or over a week, try slipping the harness on to see how your cat reacts. Try leaving the harness on for 10 seconds then removing it and giving them a cat treat and lots of praise … then gradually build up the amount of time you leave the harness on each day and rewarding their behavior with cat treats, or do it around their regular feeding time and give them breakfast/dinner after removing the harness.
This is called positive reinforcement and food is usually the most effective way to make things fun for cats!
Then take your leash training to the next level by attaching the leash and walking your cat around the house.
Carry Your Cat Outside
When you sense that your cat is comfortable with the leash setup you’ve chosen, try taking your kitty outside. While your cat can certainly walk outside, try carrying your kitty outdoors instead. To make your kitty feel more secure, always carry them outside. This strategy could prevent your kitty from darting outdoors or making any dangerous escape attempts without a leash.
Know Your Neighborhood
Once you’re outdoors, follow your cat’s lead to determine how far you’ll go. Many cats are content exploring within a small radius, so you may not need to leave the porch or the yard. If your cat has a curious personality, however, you may want to walk your cat around the block. No matter how far you go, do your best to prepare for any obstacles or hazards your cat might encounter. From experiencing snow for the first time to encountering other animals and meeting neighbors, try to anticipate how your kitty will react and plan accordingly.
As your leash training progresses, keep in mind that even if your cat is curious about the outdoors, not every kitty has the personality to enjoy being outside. Let your cat’s reactions to new stimuli guide you through the leash training process and help you find the right balance between indoor and outdoor life — (Weather conditions may alter their mood too!)
We hope these tips helped, if your cats are willing and want to explore outside, it really is a great way to enrich their lives safely… good luck!