Can Cats Learn to Walk on a Lead?

Can Cats Learn to Walk on a Lead?

Cats can learn behaviours which require training too! Keeping a cat on a lead and harness might seem strange but if you have a skittish cat or one longing for outdoors but without streetwise skills, this could be a great solution.
8 Tips for an Anxious Dog at the Vet Reading Can Cats Learn to Walk on a Lead? 4 minutes Next Santa Paws 2023!

Cats are famously not like dogs. They don’t bound to their humans giddy with the excitement of seeing them. They don’t fetch toys you throw. But they do love to be with their humans and to play with us. And contrary to what many say, cats absolutely can learn and be trained.

If you want to bring your feline bestie out and about with you, the safest way to do it is to train your cat to walk on a harness and lead. Cat harnesses have become increasingly popular and training your cat to be comfortable with a harness can be really beneficial when it comes to transporting them easily.

Harness training your cat

With patience and a good sense of humour, it is absolutely possible to train your cat to be comfortable with a harness. First, you need the right gear. Never try to walk your cat by attaching a lead to their collar. This is dangerous because if the cat bolts or jumps, they can strangle or, if they have a safety collar, it can pop open allowing the cat to escape. Dog harnesses, no matter how small, are not going to be secure enough. A proper cat harness is essential. It should fit snuggly without pinching. If it is too loose, you risk the cat wiggling out of it.

First Steps of Training a Cat to Wear a Harness

This is a slow, gentle process. Before you even try to put the harness on the cat, you have to demonstrate to the cat that the harness is harmless.

  1. Sit down in a comfy seat indoors with the harness and some cat treats. When your cat gets curious and approaches, offer a treat. Do this once or twice a day for a week or so, encouraging your cat to sit on your lap next to the harness.
  2. Keep it brief the first time you put the harness on your cat, and reward for interactions, however slow the process is. The goal is help them associate the harness with good things. Take it off and spend some time playing with their favourite toys. Teaching them that the harness means fun ahead is critical.
  3. Let your cat walk around inside, under your supervision, wearing the harness, and continue to finish each session with treats and play.

Walkies for Kitties

Once your cat has accepted wearing the harness, it is time to try walking together. This is going to be very strange for your cat, so patience is required.

Start inside. If you take half an hour to walk across the room together at first, don’t be discouraged. Your cat is learning! With practice, they will understand how far from you they can go. Mind you, once you are outside and they see a bird, all bets are off.

When your cat has mastered walking along near you inside – and you are very confident your cat cannot escape the harness - it is time to venture outside. Start small in a confined area such as your own garden, if possible. It’s fine to carry your cat if they balk or seem overwhelmed

With baby – or should we say kitten – steps, your cat can learn to enjoy going for a little stroll with you. Many cat owners feel conflicted about letting their feline fur babies outside. The dangers are many, from cars to dogs to fights with feral cats, and unfortunately cats are a leading killer of songbirds. But using a lead and harness for cats gives your kitty a way to explore the outdoors safely.

By Irene Hislop

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.