Did you know that cats can also be taught to walk on a leash? And in this article, we will be taking a look at the wonderful lifestyle of cats on a leash.
Yes, you read that right! Leashes do not just apply to canine companions, but you can take your cat on a walk as well! Though, just like a puppy that has not been trained on a leash, a cat that is put on a leash for the first time will be confused unless you teach him to be familiarized with it.
Leash walking can be beneficial not only when you’re outside but also when traveling with your feline friend or taking them to the vet. It’s also a great way to get your cat to exercise more and relieve some of their unwanted behavioral problems caused by boredom and lack of physical activities.
Like any other kind of training, teaching a cat to be familiar with a leash requires time, effort, consistency, and patience. But through this hard work and dedication, the payoff of having a cat that is well-behaved on a leash is worth it.
There are many methods to achieve this training efficiently, and in this article, we will go to it step-by-step to show you how to train a cat to walk on a leash.
Benefits of Taking Cats on Walks
Walking your feline friend provides physical exercise, mental stimulation, development of social skills, and building a foundation of good behavior. Not only will your cat benefit from taking walks, you as a pet parent will also help your active lifestyle and improve the bonding between you and your cat.
1. Walking Provides Exercise and Mental Stimulation
Walking is an exciting activity that helps in developing the foundations of physical and mental health. It is their opportunity to explore the world beyond their usual surroundings, your home. If your cat is confined in your home for too long, they become bored, and boredom can result in destructive behavior.
Most cats are dependent on their pet parents to explore areas to improve their sight, smell, and sounds of the world. Taking your cat out to different places now and then will sharpen their senses and help them stimulate their mental foundation.
2. A Regularly Walked Cat is a Healthy Cat
Even if your cat is an active furball at home, they still need to get out to exhaust their energy. Well-exercised cats tend to behave better than lazy cats, and those that do not walk frequently may become overweight, which can lead to potential health problems.
3. Improves Your Cat’s Social Skills
It is most likely that your furbaby will meet other animals and people while walking. This is an opportunity for them to learn social interaction skills.
Additionally, it will help their confidence in making friends, and a friendly cat is a happy cat. Well-socialized cats tend to be more comfortable, and it helps in eliminating stress whenever they meet a new animal or an unfamiliar face.
Which Cats Are Best For Cat Leash Training?
Although all cats can be taught to be on a leash, certain personalities and cat breeds are perfect candidates for cat leash training. Of course, regardless of your cat’s breed, his willingness and ability to train will vary. It’s crucial that your cat is happy to do this and that his needs guide you.
Cat Personalities That Will Work Best in Leash Training
1. Adventurous Cats
If you ever notice your cat always stare outside through your windows, it means they want to go out and become adventurous in exploring their surroundings. By walking them out on a leash, they will fulfill these needs.
2. Bored Cats
Cats are highly intelligent creatures and are more prone to boredom if their daily routine lacks proper stimulation and enrichment. An indoor cat with nothing much to do is more likely to adapt to boredom resulting in the following symptoms: over-grooming, aggression, destructive behavior, and peeing outside the litter box.
4. Cats that are Transitioning from Outdoor to Indoor Lifestyle
If your cat is used to living outdoors, such as a rescued stray cat, they would always have the urge to walk outside. By putting them on a leash, they will not get an opportunity to bolt away from you like what they always do on the streets.
15 Cat Breeds That Are Perfect For Leash Training
Certain cat breeds are always yearning for physical stimulation by walking or running around. Below are 15 cat breeds that you can take out for a walk on a leash.
Ragdoll cats are also known as “puppy cats” as they are often easily trained to be on a leash. They are very friendly cats and will follow their pet parent at all times, making it easy for them to stay beside you while on a walk.
2. The Abyssinian
One of the most friendly and outgoing cat breeds is the Abyssinian. They are highly energetic cats that enjoy meeting people and getting all the attention, making them perfect for outdoor walks.
Bengal cats are among the most intelligent breeds and have a curious nature making them perfect for training to walk on a leash. Keep in mind that they also have a strong will, so expect them to walk ahead of you.
Burmese kittens are more likely to get the hang of walking on a leash, so it is better to start leash training while they are still young. Burmese cats are curious and energetic cats that would follow their pet parents most of the time.
5. Maine Coon
Maine Coon are big cats with personalities similar to dogs. They have a gentle nature that will always seek your love and attention.
One of the most intelligent cat breeds, Siamese cats are perfect for leash training due to their curiosity and dog-like personality.
7. Turkish Van
Turkish vans are inborn hunters that are great for walks and strenuous physical activities. They are independent and energetic, so walking outside would be necessary for them.
8. British Shorthair
The British Shorthair is a friendly cat but is not very energetic, so you will be the one to guide them on a walk.
9. American Shorthair
The American Shorthair is an easy-going cat that can quickly learn certain behaviors and tricks. They are affectionate and adaptable, which makes them perfect for short walks.
Ocicats are intelligent cats that can easily be trained to walk on a leash. They need lots of physical activities to avoid having lethargy.
Pixiebobs are big house cats that can be trained easily and are great for walking on a leash.
The fun-loving and cheerful Somali cat is relative to the Abyssinian and can easily be trained to walk on a harness and a leash.
Korat cats are often clingy to their pet parents and love to follow them around. This breed is friendly and would frequently want to be petted by strangers, so taking them out for a walk in the park is perfect for them.
Another cat with a dog-like personality is a Savannah. They are energetic cats that need lots of exercises, and one way to use up that energy is through walking.
Persian cats have a very obedient nature, so they are effortless to train. They are very friendly and would even greet people by meowing at them while on a walk.
How Long Will It Take to Train Your Cat To Walk On a Leash?
Teaching your cat to be on a leash can take a couple of days up to a couple of months, depending on their personality and dependency nature. If your cat is more laid back, it will take a shorter time to train. On the other hand, if your cat is skittish and likes to just lie down on the floor, then it will take a longer time for them to be trained.
A Comprehensive Guide on How to Train Your Cat To Go on Walks
Now that we know which cats are the best candidates for leash training, let’s get into the steps and guidelines for training them.
1. Choosing the Right Harness and Leash
Cats are known to have slender and flexible bodies, so putting them on a dog leash will be easy for them to slip out of. Leash training a cat is different from leash training a dog; that’s why they need different equipment, a harness specifically made for cats.
Collars are suitable for identification and decorative purposes, but not so great to use together with a leash. Harnesses are much more secure for strapping your cat, especially when you are training them.
Choosing the correct sized harness for your cat usually needs trial and error, so it’s best to measure your cat’s chest and shoulders before purchasing a harness. We recommend that you bring your cat along to the pet store to try on the perfect harness fit.
Choose a harness that will fit securely but is not too tight on your cat. You can check if the measurement is comfortable to him by sliding two of your fingers beneath the harness, and if it slides comfortably, then it is the perfect fit. If you can put more fingers or just one finger, it may be too loose or too tight.
Harnesses made from soft clothing and are lightweight are the best choices. Ensure that the harness you choose has a buckle attached to the back of it, as this is where you will attach the leash.
The perfect quality for a cat’s leash is lightweight and manageable. Ideally, you should select a leash ranging from 1 meter to 1.5 meters long. Retractable leashes and leashes longer than two meters are acceptable to use once your cat is already leash trained.
2. Introducing the Harness and the Leash
You must slowly introduce the harness to your cat and make it a positive experience, and one way to do it is through food or catnip.
You can leave the harness by your cat’s food bowl or can rub some catnip beneath it so they can sniff it and associate it as a good thing.
3. Putting On The Harness
Once your cat is familiar with the harness, it is time to slip it on him, but do not fasten it yet. Use more treats as a distraction and to help him associate the harness with positive rewards. It is advisable to put the harness on before mealtime so that the food distracts him from the harness and keeps away his urges to remove it.
Do this for a few more days until you can see that your cat is beginning to be comfortable with it. Once your cat is relaxed, you can fasten the harness. Leave the harness on for several minutes, and then provide an extra food reward. Do this for several days while checking how your cat reacts to it.
If he seems comfortable in a fastened harness, leave it on a bit longer, but if he gets unsettled, provide food as a distraction and remove the harness from him. Try again later with a more enticing treat such as canned food or tuna, then remove the harness sooner this time before your cat reacts negatively.
Keep in mind that it is normal for cats to stiffen up, refuse to walk, or walk very strangely during the first few times they’re in a harness. Your cat has never felt the sensation of something on his back before, so it will naturally take some time for him to adapt to it.
4. Attaching the Leash
Once your cat is all good with the sensation of having a harness on his body, it is time to attach the leash.
Choose a spacious place in your house where no furniture can snag the leash while being dragged by your cat. Let him drag the leash around the room while you’re giving them food or toys as positive reinforcement.
If your cat gets rattled while dragging the leash, you should hold the leash by just sitting on the floor and let him wander freely around you.
5. Start Leash Walking Indoors
When your cat is comfortable with the harness and leash sensation, start following him around your house and keep the leash loose in your hand. Continue to give him plenty of treats and praise throughout this phase.
Once you’ve both had some practice with this, it’s time to try gently leading him. Gently pull on the leash in your desired direction and call your cat to you. When he follows your command, reward him with a treat. Continue this process for several days until they are used to walking on a leash in your house.
6. Transitioning to the Outdoors
If your cat is going out of your house for the first time, he will likely be on high alert, so take things slowly by walking him somewhere near, such as your yard or garage.
Don’t let your cat go out of your door on a leash by himself, because he may get used to doing it when he is not leashed. So instead, pick him up and carry him outside to a quiet area, stay beside him and let him decide when he’s ready to engage in a walk. Keep the leash loose and let your cat go in front of you at a safe distance.
Choose a safe area in your neighborhood where dogs are rarely seen. Having no engagement with a dog will limit any scary experience to your cat that may lead to anxiety every time you’re taking them out for a walk.
Make sure to bring lots of treats when walking outside, and keep the time spent outdoors to a few pleasant minutes. If they are behaving as you want, give them consistent positive reinforcements.
We know how busy you can be, so here’s a short informational video to watch as a summary of how you can leash train your cat:
How to Protect Your Cat While Walking Outside
Now that you and your cat are ready to walk the great outside world, here are few more things to be aware of and considering to have a safe walk.
Fleas can result in bad itch, tapeworms, anemia due to blood loss, and many other medical conditions. Fortunately, there are several safe and effective flea medications for cats.
Always consult your vet before applying any flea medications to check which one is perfect for your furbaby.
Heartworms are parasites that can be brought in by mosquitos. Heartworms attach to a mosquito’s body, and if an infected mosquito bites your furbaby, it may result in the transfer of parasites.
Heartworm is difficult to detect once it has infected a cat, and there is no available cure. However, there are safe and effective heartworm preventatives you can use on your cat. Always consult your vet before applying any heartworm treatment to check which one is perfect for your furbaby.
- Intestinal Worms
Roundworms and hookworms are digestive parasites that can easily infect cats, especially to those who are frequently walking outside since the eggs of these two intestinal worms are usually found in dirt and mud but can also be present on many outdoor surfaces.
Fortunately, there are heartworm preventives that can be administered by your veterinarian to avoid any of these digestive conditions.
- Poisonous Plants For Your Cat
Due to your cat’s curiosity, they will always want to sniff and chew on plants they would encounter while walking. It is essential to take note of the plants that can cause harm to your cat. Check out our previous article that lists down the most common plants that can be health-threatening when ingested by cats.
Now that you are armed with the knowledge on how to train a cat to walk on a leash, when will you start the training? Tell us what challenges you encountered and let us know in the comments section below. Have fun, and be safe!