It is considered commonplace to walk dogs on leash and no one gives it a second thought. However, take a cat for a walk out on a leash and often you will turn curious heads as people stop to see what you are doing and why anyone would walk a cat. This is unfair however, when you consider that walking a cat has all the same benefits as leash walking a dog – and if you live in a busy area with lots of traffic, or are on the top floor of a block of flats, then this is a great way to both exercise your cat and stop it from tearing up your home, and to get a little exercise yourself.
The question is though, how do you go about training cats to walk on a leash when cats are so famously less obedient than their canine counterparts? Here we will look at how to leash train a cat so that you can go strolling round the block together and both get some fresh air.
When you start training your cat you should start indoors. There’s a reason for the phrase ‘scaredy-cat’ and cats can get alarmed by a range of different noises and items them they find outdoors whether it’s a motorcycle, a car, a dog or a siren.
To start you also need to make sure that you buy your cat a good leash and harness that you can walk them in confidently without choking them. A dog leash simply won’t do and will be too rough and prevent your cat from enjoying themselves. You would also do well to have some treats to hand to reward your cat – a few cat biscuits for instance or some cold cooked chicken. Put these in a bag so that they don’t ruin your pockets and so the cat isn’t distracted by that delicious smell.
Start slow by just letting your cat spend time in the harness. Give them treats and pay them attention and treats. Wait until your cat is happy with the harness before moving on.
Now attach the leash to something in your home that’s static, such as a chair leg, and let your cat roam around freely. This way they can learn the length of the rope and the limits that the leash imposes on them. Don’t try to direct or lead the cat yet.
When your cat is happy to be on the lead then you can try holding the end and letting the cat lead you around the house. Don’t tug because it can upset the cat and this will then mean it starts to reject the leash in future and won’t let you put it on.
Now you can move outside and let your cat lead you around the garden. It may take some time to cajole your cat into coming outside, particularly if it’s noisy, so pick a quiet time of day. You can also now start to resist gently against the lead if your cat goes the wrong way so they start to learn how the system works and so they become more open to being lead.
Now head outside! Start in a quiet area and keep the walk short at first, but feel free to build up over time and take your cat on longer walks. As time goes by your cat will get more and more confident and you might want to start teaching it new tricks like stopping at pavements etc.