Cat Articles: Training

How to Leash Train Your Cat: Training Your Feline to Take Walks

Why should dogs have all the fun? Turns out you can teach an old (or younger) cat new tricks, like walking on a leash.

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orange cat leashed with a harness walking over cobblestone

Even if you have a cat that’s allowed to venture outdoors, you don’t want her roaming the neighborhood at all hours without you. Enter the leash.

A cat leash is practical (and not a joke), allowing you to enjoy the fresh air with your favorite feline.  Here’s how to get started:

1. Get a harness

Your cat has her collar, but she can easily wriggle out of it and get tangled up if a leash is attached to it. Instead, look for a cat harness that’s snug but comfortable with enough padding so it doesn't chafe.
Let your cat play with the harness inside the house, getting used to its smell so she isn't afraid of it. Gradually let her try on the harness and parade it around the house, even dragging the leash behind her.

2. Indoor track

Once your feline is comfortable with the harness and lead, pick up the leash and gently lead her around the house. Keep it loose: Let her walk you, taking you where she wants to wander. Once she’s fine with that, try guiding her with the leash.

3. Healthy rewards

Coax your cat to walk with you by giving her special treats. Place them along the route you want her to take, rewarding her along the way.

4. Take it outside

Once your cat’s comfortable leash-walking indoors, head out. Start in a secluded area and let your cat direct the pace. She may sit still at first, but she’ll gradually start exploring when she’s ready. If your cat is always inside, she may be nervous at first. It’s a great big world out there, so go slow.

5. Be patient

From a brave lion one day, to a scaredy cat the next, your feline may react differently on her daily walks. If she does become frightened, resist the urge to pick her up. Instead, retreat to a familiar area where she’s felt safe before.

6. Mind the door

Once your cat gets a taste for the outdoors, she may try to dart out whenever she can. Condition her to know that “outdoor time” means she’s outfitted with the harness and leash. Try to take her out at a specific time each day; put the harness on her before you reach the door and carry her outside so she learns not to run out on her own. Hey, can you blame her? Stealing glances out windows goes just so far. Before you know it, you’ll probably find you’re both looking forward to your daily stroll, even if the neighborhood dogs get a chuckle out of seeing a cat on a leash.