Cat on a leash: Going for a walk

In most cases, cats love being in nature and active, so it comes as no surprise that felines living in houses and flats may occasionally want to go out and explore the world. If you have such a cat at home, you may find useful the following tips on how to get her used to a leash. A leash is a great tool when you want to let your cat explore, but don’t want to expose her to dangers that lurk around every corner, especially in cities. 

Of course, walking on a leash is preceded by choosing the right equipment. We already described how to choose a leash, what kind of harness should go with it and how to get the cat used to the new tool in one of our previous articles. Today, we will focus on how to teach the cat to walk on the leash so that walks are fun for both of you. 

Step by step
Let’s follow where we last left off, in the moment where we acquaint the cat with the leash and the harness through positive associations. This will help the cat understand that this is a pleasant affair. The next step is putting the cat in the harness. Bit by bit, you try to put on her harness so that you always get a little further each day. At the same time, however, you should respect that this is a relatively big change for the cat, so you have to do this step by step. This may take a few days. A good trick is to have a favourite treat on hand, which you can give the cat as a reward. 

A process that pays off in the long run
Once you are sure that the cat is used to the harness as well as the entire process, you can proceed to the next, which involves adjusting the size of the harness. The harness should be comfortable to the cat: it should not choke the cat, but should be safe at the same time. At this stage, the cat should last increasingly longer in the harness without getting her favourite treat. This part may take several days, but the patience pays off, especially in the long run. 

First few days at home only
If the cat feels comfortable in the harness, attach the leash and let her get used to it. Don’t take her out right away, let her move walk around the room and give her toys to distract her from the leash, which is completely new to her. At this stage, it is good to make sure that the leash doesn’t get caught on anything at home. This could startle the cat and lead her to develop an aversion towards the whole process. 

The cat explorer
When you see that the cat doesn’t mind the leash and the harness, take her out, ideally to the garden or somewhere where she can move freely and explore her surroundings. At the same time, you should chose an area where the cat cannot get startled by something unexpected. Try to adjust the length of each step of the process so that the cat is comfortable. Once you see that the cat is ready to explore another area and that she is not bothered by the harness and the leash, it’s time to take her out for a walk. 

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