When it comes to walking around the block, dogs shouldn’t get all the fun, right? Certainly, other pets might enjoy a leisurely stroll alongside their owners – especially if it’s a safe, fun, and positive experience. Leash training your cat may not top your priority list this fall, but when approached the right way, walking around outside together can be a truly enriching opportunity for indoor-only felines.
Training cats isn’t on the fringe anymore. Lots of other cat owners are picking up the activity due to the numerous safety risks facing free-roaming cats.
Wandering cats are exposed to various injuries or illnesses from vehicular accidents, falls, fights with aggressive dogs or territorial cats. The solution to this is to simply keep your cat inside, but at the expense of their daily mental and physical stimulation.
Sedentary No More
Leash training your cat can really help them keep to a healthy weight, or even shave off a few of those extra pounds. With regular outings they are given a range of healthy movements, and with their senses awakened, a nice dose of enrichment.
Successful leash training hinges on acquiring the right equipment. The right cat-specific harness is made of lightweight nylon, and fits your cat’s body snugly. It should never be tight enough to restrict movement or compromise comfort.
It can take some time for your cat to warm up to the idea of wearing a harness. Simply leave it around the house near their places of positive experiences, such as their food/water bowl or bedding.
Leash Training Your Cat
After you are able to convince your cat that the harness means no harm, place it on the body and encourage them to keep wearing it by offering nutritious treats, praise, and head scratches. Do not give treats when you remove the harness, or your cat will associate pleasure with the removal.
You should be able to attach lightweight leash to the harness at this point. Flexible or retractable leashes are not recommended as cats can get wrapped up in them, injuring themselves or others.
Leash training your cat starts inside the home. Walk from room to room, taking care not to upset or scare your cat. If practiced enough your cat will become accustomed to being attached to your hand-held leash. Ensure there isn’t a lot of extra tension in the leash.
The Great Outdoors
Introduce your cat to the outside world in a relatively quiet, peaceful place, like an enclosed garden or small yard. If they appear stressed out, scared, or anxious, retreat to the house. Otherwise, walk slowly with your cat taking care not to pull them along.
Many cats will enjoy simply sitting outside, munching on grass, and watching their surroundings. Over time, you can increase their time on the leash, lengthen walks, and introduce new places to them. Always supervise your cat closely. When back inside the home, remove the harness and store it with the leash behind closed doors.
Your cat should be microchipped in addition to having a visible ID tag attached to their harness. Parasite prevention as well as up to date vaccinations are also important.