How To Leash Train A Cat

cat with glasses reading bookIf your inside cat is pining to go out and you are afraid for him because of the dangers, why not leash train him? If you teach him to accept a harness and a leash, you can take him out for walks, allowing him to be outside and safe. However, it is not always easy to get a cat to accept a harness and a leash. This post will teach you how to leash train your cat.

You may have some challenges to overcome. To train the cat successfully, you need time and patience. I’ve told my story before about trying to train my Kodiak cats, Uptight Cat and Loose Cat, to a harness. We were traveling from Colorado back to Alaska, camping along the way, and I wanted to be able to let the cats outside when we camped.

Well, that idea did not work. When I put the harness on my little Houdini, aka Uptight Cat, he wiggled and squirmed until he got out of that harness. I put one on Loose Cat and he just laid down. I could have dragged him anywhere. As it turned out, when we camped, we just let the cats loose. They’d explore the area, then come back to us. No problem.

So, if you have the time and the patience, here are the steps you need to take to leash train your cat.

Measure your cat

You will need a well-fitted harness to go walking with a cat. Never use just a collar, as it can injure the cat. If the cat bolts, which is likely, the collar can damage the cat’s windpipe, voice box, and ability to swallow. When the cat wears the harness, the restraint placed on him will be distributed between the cat’s shoulders, chest, and belly, and he won’t be injured.

To measure your cat, first go around the girth of the animal’s chest, just behind the front legs. Make a note of that figure to use when you select the harness.

Choose A Harness

Most harnesses have adjustable straps, so they can be used for either a kitten or a grownup cat. TheseDark spotted cat on red leash harnesses are made of nylon or neoprene. They may also come in sub-sizes, if your cat’s measurements require it.

The harness should be fitted to the cat’s body. It should not cut into the cat or squeeze him unduly. It also should not hang loosely on his bod. A proper fit allows you to put two fingers under the harness when it is on the cat.

Do not use the harness as a restraint when the cat rides in the car. The harness will not protect your cat in case of an accident.

Choose A Leash

The cat does not need the same kind of leash as a dog. You can get a light-weight leash designed specifically for cats. They don’t need a heavy restraining leash.

Bungee leashes are great because they stretch enough to allow the cat to do a bit of wandering. However, do not use retractable leashes, which are often used for dogs. This leash is not well-suited to a cat and can cause an injury.

Now, you need to allow some time for the cat to adjust to his new harness. Here are some suggested ways to help him get accustomed to it.

PUT THE HARNESS ON THE CAT FOR SHORT PERIODS OF TIME. Before you can take him out with it on, he needs to get used to wearing it.

Put it on him at first for a few minutes, each day. Increase the length of time with each wearing. Follow this procedure for several days.

Give treats and praise while putting the harness on the cat and while he walks around with it on. If you can, get him to feeling comfortable when he is moving around the house. If you get him to the point where he doesn’t mind Tan cat in leash, chirruping at birdswearing it, you are ahead of the game.

ATTACH THE LEASH. Once your cat has grown used to the harness, it is time to attach the leash. At first, allow the leash to trail behind the cat as he walks around. Encourage him to walk around with that leash attached. Give him praise and treats.

PRACTICE WALKING WITH THE HARNESS AND THE LEASH. You must first let him become comfortable with the leash following him. Then pick it up and encourage the cat to walk with you holding the leash.

Give him treats and praise for success. Don’t tug — let the cat walk where he wants.

Next, there are some steps for helping your cat adjust to walking with harness and leash outdoors. Here goes:

START SLOWLY With some cats, going outside can be quite intimidating. If the cat is reluctant to leave the house, don’t insist.

Leave the door open so the cat can investigate on his own time. If he doesn’t want to go out at all, don’t force the issue. Wait for another day.

HELP HIM WITH HIS OUTDOOR ADVENTURE When he is ready to go out and explore, follow him and offer encouragement.

Make the first trip short — maybe five minutes. If you keep him out too long he may become overwhelmed and then will not want to go out in the future.

Wait for a dry day to take him out. If it is raining or has rained recently, many of the normal scents the cat would use for investigation might be washed away. He will have more difficulty figuring out his location.

MAKE REGULAR TRIPS OUTDOORS TOGETHER Gradually increase the amount of time the cat is out. Make such trips part of his daily routine.

As the cat gets more comfortable, let him take the lead and allow him to wander further if he choosesTan and white cat, green harness, lying in grass.

Forget about controlling a cat on a leash as you would a dog. The cat can be encouraged to go in a particular direction if you lure him with a treat.

Use gentle encouragement with the cat. Never use harsh methods to try to train him. Remember it is in a cat’s nature to be independent, so consider it an achievement that the cat will accept the harness and leash.

You can train a cat to harness and leash at any age, as long as the harness fits correctly. Kittens will learn faster, but an older cat can also learn — it just takes patience.

Thanks for this information from for their fine article on how to leash train a cat.

Here are a few harness and leash selections from Amazon for you to consider.  Please note, that if you purchase one of these harness and leash combos, I will earn a small commission as an Amazon affiliate.

Escape Proof Cat Harness with leash, by Beibao

Adjustable soft mesh

Black, large size

Price:  $12.00



Yizhi Miaow Escape Proof Cat Harness With Leash

Adjustable cat walking jackets; padded cat vest

by Fengze Happy Times Pet Supplies Factory

Price:  $13.99

Prime; comes in XS, S, M, L, XL



Sceneral Escape Proof Cat Harness and Leash

Adjustable soft mesh best harness

by Saile; Sizes S, M, L

Price:  $14.99



Pet Safe Come With Me Kitty Harness and Bungee Leash

Harness for cats, Sizes S, M, L; black and silver

by Toys & Behavior

Price:  $14.95



Niteangel 2-pack of adjustable cat harness & elastic leash

by Niteangel

Size M & L harness & leash, black

Price:  $8.99


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