How to Leash Train Your Cat

A kitten walking on a leash

Training a cat to walk on a leash is not only possible, but can open a window to a whole new world for your cat.

Leash walking can strengthen the bond between you and your cat and allow her to explore the outdoors safely.

  1. The first step in training a cat to walk on a leash is to get the cat used to the harness she’ll have to wear. First, put the harness somewhere where your cat can see and examine it. Leave it there for a few days. Next, put the harness on your cat just before feeding time, so that she associates something positive with the harness. You can also use a treat, rather than regular mealtimes, for this step.
  2. When she’s comfortable with the harness, attach the leash, but don’t use it for anything yet. Just allow the cat to see and experience the feeling of the leash while you walk behind her, holding it loosely, for short periods.
  3. When your cat is comfortable with the leash, set her down and walk to the end of it. If she follows you, praise and reward her, using the clicker if desired. If she doesn’t follow you, pull gently on the leash (but don’t jerk it), and wait until the cat takes a few steps toward you. When she does, praise and reward her. Be patient – it may take a while for the cat to come toward you.
  4. Keep repeating this process, and reward your cat with a piece of food (and a click, if you’re using a clicker) when she moves forward with you.

Be patient. It may take a lot of repetition of these slow steps before your cat understands what you want her to do. When she’s very comfortable with the process, and walks with you at a normal pace, try taking her outside. When you do go outdoors, she’ll be very distracted by her new environment, and could be frightened. Start in a quiet, secluded area and allow her to look around and explore before trying to go for a walk. Your cat may never walk like a dog does, heeling and keeping pace, but rather may always want to explore, sniff, and wander a little as you go along. Take things slowly, and she may discover that walking on a leash is her new favourite activity.

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