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Most dog owners walk their dogs on a leash, and nobody finds anything strange in that. On the other hand, taking a walk with a cat on a leash is quite weird for most people.
When I took my Clementine for a walk for the first time, everyone stared at us as if we were nuts.
We didn’t mind and enjoyed the day. After a while, no one cared anymore. So, don’t think about other people’s opinions but take care of your kitty’s wellbeing. Therefore, go ahead and discover how to teach your cat to walk on a leash.
When to Start Leash Training a Cat?
Leash training is a safe way for your cat to get the necessary exercise while enjoying exploring. If you plan to teach it to walk on the leash, start doing it once it is about two months old.
The younger kitten may find this kind of adventure too scary, while the older one may be stubborn and refuse to cooperate.
On average, the upper limit is approximately four months, and you can expect some resistance after that period.
Let Your Kitty Adjust to the Leash
Most cats accept to wear a properly sized harness without much trouble, but it can be different with the leash.
Give your kitty time to get used to the new piece of equipment and bribe it with treats initially. Unfortunately, no one can tell you how long this process will last.
For instance, my Clementine grew up with our American Staffordshire Terrier, Malena, and she accepted a leash without any objections. I suppose she decided that her ‘mom’ knew the best.
On the other hand, Josephine was about six months old when we found it on the street.
Someone kicked her out of the house, and she was hungry and terrified. At every attempt to take her for a walk, she freaked out, and I didn’t want to force her.
Listen to your furry friend and be gentle. It can be beneficial for the cat to go out, but it is not necessary.
Never push it too much, but you should try to help it adjust and learn how wonderful the outside world is. Always start with small steps and offer your beauty a treat if any problem appears.
Never take your kitty out before customizing it to new, sudden sounds. Try to undo the Velcro or unexpectedly clap hands, for example, and look at its reaction. It will be prepared to go outside once it stops reacting in panic.
As I have already mentioned, start with the harness and add the leash when assessing that the cat is ready for a new step.
Let it walk with an attached loose leash inside the house. Repeat the process for several days until noticing that your kitty is entirely relaxed while walking and tolerates the leash without any resistance.
Then, let it used to the taut leash. It probably won’t like it in the very beginning, but give it time.
Once your kitty is ready to go outside, open the door, encourage it to go out, and let it discover the surroundings by sniffing and choosing the direction on its own.
Hold the leash and take care of this darling creature, but give it some sense of freedom it looks for.
Don’t pull the leash or make sudden, scary movements. Gentle tugging to redirect the cat’s attention will be enough for the first few times. Take things slowly and avoid going too far.
Treats – They are a tempting signal to the cat that it is in a safe place and that there is no reason to be afraid.
Route – Keep your cat far away from barking dogs, big crowds, busy roads, and everything else that can scare and stress it. The place for the first walk should be semi-private, safe, and as quiet as possible. The best choice is a fenced backyard if it is possible.
Fence – Make sure not to leave enclosed space since the fence can make your kitty feel protected and safe.
Precautions – Once your kitty steps outside, it will become more exposed to ticks, fleas, and heartworms. Always talk to your vet and take all necessary measures to protect your pet.
Prevent escaping – Some kitties will like roaming around and try to do go out on their own. It’s up to you to make it clear that spending time outside without the harness is not an option.
Be prepared – Always have a towel or blanket prepared in case of an emergency. If something unexpected happens, wrap your kitty quickly and back it inside.
Daily progress – Try to respect the cat’s pace, let it explore in a way that pleases it, and encourage it to walk a little farther every day. The signal that your cat enjoys outside is a relaxed stroll with the tail up.
Expectations – Remember that walking with the cat is not the same activity as going outside with a dog. Your kitty will prefer staying close home, exploring a bit, and sniffing without intention to walk the sidewalk too far.
Sometimes it won’t work – Your goal is the cat’s enjoyment and satisfaction. If it is unhappy, you should slow down and offer it more incentives. Some kitties need more time to start feeling comfortable outside, while others won’t get used to walking at all. In that case, give up and find another activity your furry friend will adore.
Walking outdoors will enhance your cat’s life, body condition, and health. It is an excellent way to strengthen your bond and reduce its boredom.
If your furry friend spends hours looking through a window, you should show it how the world looks on the other side of the pane.
Guest Author: Jovanka Panic
Jovanka is a writer, translator, veterinarian, and passionate traveler. After playing with white bears and elephants in the Belgrade Zoo and dealing with the rabies virus in the Institute Pasteur, she enjoys writing. Her four beasts are her ultimate love, including three cats (Clementine, Josephine, and Sophia) and their ‘mom” Stafford Terrier, Melena.