If you’ve ever watched someone walk their dog on a leash, and you have a cat, you may have envied that canine ability to walk to leash. Even a disobedient dog trying to get off his leash is better than a disgusted cat trying to get off his leash. Keep in mind if you do get your cat to walk on a leash – do not do so if you live in a busy area with lots of dogs. Always make sure there are no dogs, no cars and you are doing this in a safe place – like your back garden. If you have any doubts at all, do not
The good news is, it is possible to train most cats not all – to leash. Some cats never will walk to leash, no matter how patiently you try to train them. But most cats, especially young ones, can be taught to walk to leash. The key is to be gentle, to be patient, and to let the cat take its own sweet time getting adjusted to the idea.
A cat won’t walk to leash with a collar. Oh, there are exceptions; there are also cats that like fishing and swimming, but you can’t count on your cat doing it. In order to walk a cat to leash, you’ll have to purchase a harness leash.
Start by getting the cat used to wearing the harness around the house. Putting it on the cat the first few times will be the hardest part; this is where gentleness and patience really come into the picture. If you get impatient with the cat, or force it into the harness, or speak unkindly or handle it roughly, then the battle is lost almost before you begin it; the cat will have learned to hate the harness from the beginning, and your chances of overcoming that are about the same as your chances of teaching your cat to swim.
But if the cat is gently acclimated to the harness, and if you can coax her into it and just let her wear it around the house for a while, several times in a row, then you’re well on your way. It’s easiest when the cat has already learned to wear a collar–either a flea collar or a collar and tag–but it isn’t hopeless if she hasn’t.
Once the cat has worn the harness around the house several times in a row–never just leave the harness on; always take it off after an hour or so–then you’re ready for the next step. Put the harness on, and clip on the least that came with it. Then just sit there. The cat, not accustomed to being constrained like that, is likely to fight with the leash once it gets to the end of it and finds it can’t go any farther; that’s natural. Just remain seated, holding your end of the leash firmly in your hand, and speak to the cat in a gentle, soothing tone. This is not the time to ‘tease’ your cat or try to play with her. Just be still, and let the cat get used to the idea of being leashed.
If your cat really hates the leash the first time you put it on, you may want to go back to just putting on the harness for an hour or so, and stick with that for a few more days, then repeat the leash step. Once your cat gets to the point that she isn’t fighting the leash when she wears it, you can try the next step.
With the harness and leash on the cat, stand up and take a few steps forward–just far enough that the leash becomes slightly taut. Nine times out of ten, the cat is going to fight this just the way she did having the leash on the first time (and, no doubt, having the harness on the time before that). Never try to drag the cat around by the leash; just walk far enough forward that she has to take one step forward, and then wait until she takes that step. Then walk a little bit farther forward; again, wait for her, don’t drag her. You may tug gently on the leash, but never jerk it. Remember, you don’t want the cat to learn to hate the leash.
The first time you try ‘walking’ her with the leash, it shouldn’t be for more than five minutes. But you can gradually increase the time as your cat becomes accustomed to the leash, until you can finally walk all over the house with the cat following you.
When you first take the cat outside on the leash, you’ll want to repeat the process; stand very still and let her get used to being outside on the leash; then walk her a little ways forward; then expand the ‘territory’ you take in.
Gradual acclimation is the key to training a cat to walk to leash; gentleness and patience are the keys to keeping her from hating it. If you’re willing to take your time, most cats will learn to walk to leash