Cats love the outdoors. However, for various reasons, some people may not be able to let them be free-roaming outdoor cats. Thankfully, as with dogs, you can take a cat out on a harness and a leash. Before you do that, though, you are going to need to get the cat used to it. Let our experts explain how.
Getting your cat to get used to being on a harness and leash can be challenging and is a slow process. You need to gradually introduce them to the harness and the leash in the comfort of your own home. When the cat seems to be confident wearing the harness and leash, you can take them outside.
Let our experts expand upon this for you. After all, training a cat isn’t really something that can be summed up in just a few words.
How to Get a Cat Used to a Harness and Leash
First things first, it is important that you get your cat wearing that leash as early as you possibly can in their life. This means that they have had their vaccinations, they have been fully weaned, and they are independent. If you leave it later into the cat’s life, then it becomes harder. This is because the cat is already used to not wearing a harness and a leash. You stick that on them, and they are going to feel like they are in prison.
#1 Put the Harness On
Your first job is to get the cat used to that harness. So, this means that you are going to need to put it on at home. Let them walk around with it on. Chances are that your cat is not going to like it at first, but they will get used to it. This is because you will have a secret weapon; treats.
Cats can easily be trained to like something. You just need to give them treats. When they are wearing the harness without complaints, slip them treats. When the harness is not on them, don’t give them treats. They will come to associate the harness with treats. Eventually, they will be able to leave it on for hours on end with barely a complaint coming from them.
#2 Walk the Around Your Home with the Leash
Once you have got the cat used to the harness, it is time to connect up that leash. You want to take them for walks around the home. Just a couple of minutes at a time. Get used to controlling them so they do not constantly pull at the leash.
We suggest that you start with a smaller leash when you are walking a cat for the first time. As you get more confident with the leash, and your cat gets more confident with the outdoors, then you can upgrade to a longer leash so they can have a proper runaround.
#3 Take them Outside for the First time
Once the cat is used to the harness and the leash, it is time to take them outdoors. Most cats will be thrilled with this. However, if they aren’t, then have a look a couple of sections down. We will give you a tip for dealing with cats that are reluctant to leave the safety of the indoors.
Take them outside on a calm day. Ideally, you should be walking them where there isn’t much to distract them. Absolutely do not walk them near dog parks. Your cat will get scared.
#4 Praise Them
When they do good when you are out there walking them, make sure that you lavish a ton of praise on them. Get them to enjoy walking around with you.
#5 Longer Walks
After a few shorter walks with your cat, you can upgrade your walking and take them out for longer walks. We wouldn’t really go over 30-40 minutes, though. Even that would be pushing it. Cats have incredibly small legs and they are not thrilled with the longest of walks. You certainly wouldn’t be able to take them the same distance you would take a dog.
How Long Does it Take for a Cat to Get Used to a Harness and Leash?
This is going to be 100% dependent on the cat. We have seen some cats take to a harness and leash within minutes of being introduced to it. We have also seen other cats that take weeks to get used to the harness and leash.
What we have never seen is a cat that never gets used to that harness and leash. So, keep at it. Goes as fast as your cat wants. Do not force them into doing anything. We promise you, if you continue to try, your cat is going to get used to that leash and harness. Some cats may take a little bit longer than others.
Do All Cats Like the Outdoors?
You would think that all cats would like the outdoors. However, this isn’t the case.
If a cat has lived indoors their whole life, then the world outside can seem like a big, scary place. This means that some cats may take a little bit of convincing to go outside for the first time.
A lot of reassurance and some crafty treats can go a long way here. If your cat refuses to step outside, don’t force them. Stick some treats out there, and they will run out before you know it. Once they do, make sure that you heap a ton of praise on them. Let them know that they have absolutely done the right thing!
Do You Have to Buy a Proper Cat Harness for a Cat?
Yes. You should always ensure that you buy a proper cat harness for your cat. We know that there are some people that will just use harnesses designed for small dogs. However, they don’t really fit cats properly. If you are planning on taking your cat outside, then make sure that you buy a harness designed for them. It will be much safer and far more comfortable for your pet.
Any leash will be fine for your cat. You can use a dog’s leash if you want. As long as it connects up the harness, then you should be fine.
If you want to take your cat for walks outside, then you are going to need to get them used to wearing a harness with a leash attached. For some cats, it is going to take a little bit longer than others.. However, we promise you, if you follow our instructions on how to get a cat used to a harness and leash, you will eventually find success.
Have you ever put your cant on a leash or harness? Did your furry friend tolerate it? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to checkout our other cat relate articles.