Can you put your cat or kitten on a leash and walk them like a dog? Some people seem to think that its hard as it is with grown cats and it would be harder to do it with a kitten. The truth is, its a lot easier to teach them how to walk on a leash when they are young.
In fact, the younger the better as they are more open to learning things during this period of their life. If they are grown, you might have a much harder time since cats are very stubborn but it is possible.
How Long Will It Take To Leash Train a Cat?
It could take a couple days or even a couple of months – its really dependent on the type of cat you actually have. If you have a cat that is really laid back your cat will probably adapt to learning to walk with you quite well.
Other cats that get really skittish or hide under the bed when you have someone come over will not like to be on a leash at all and maybe will never adapt to this ever. If they can’t handle one person in your house, imagine what they will do when they see a group of people outside. You also might not want to walk your cat if they are too old or they have certain health problems that prevent them from doing so. They wont like it at all.
Some cats or kittens are simply just not trainable and its probably why people think walking them is too hard or impossible to do. You just need to train them when they are young or simply just have a willing cat. Your cats breed also comes into play with this as well. Some breeds just don’t really do well when trained.
Is It Weird To Walk a Cat?
Walking your cat is something that many people do and you don’t really get weird looks when you are going down the street based on my experience. In fact walking your cat on a harness is becoming increasingly more common through out the years and I see people sharing photos of their cats in harnesses on social media like Twitter or Instagram all the time including celebrities.
Many people will probably think it’s quite interesting that you managed to do such a thing! So is this something I would say is worth doing? I would definitely say yes.
Cat Breeds You Can Walk On A Leash:
You can train more cat breeds then what I listed here obviously but here is a good idea of what breeds are really open to doing this type of thing.
• Siamese Cats
This cat breed is known for being the most intelligent and playful breeds you can have thus makes them good candidates for training if you have one that is really young. Not as friendly as the Abyssinian and they tend to be a bit stubborn especially as they get older but if you have the patience they can do quite well under a leash.
• Abyssinian Cats
These cats are very intelligent, friendly toward people or children and are quite easy to train. They are a very popular breed to train because of these qualities and they are a very energetic breed which makes them perfect for walking around with you or even hiking if they are up for it.
• Persian Cats
These cats have a very obedient nature so they are very easy to train because of this. These cats are also not as intelligent compared to the Siamese or the Abyssinian but its debatable as to whether this is true or not. You will probably meet a lot of people walking this breed as they really stand out compared to other cats due to their long hair.
• Bengal Cats
I’ve actually seen a lot of success with this breed. It also really enjoys one on one time with its owner so this is a really good cat to train with. This type of cat enjoys anything that evolves playing. Incorporating toys with leash training will make this much easier on you.
• Somali Cats
This is a very dog-like breed, its very active and is also a very curious one as well. These cats are also good for learning tricks such as playing fetch. These qualities would make it the perfect type of cat to train on a leash.
• Japanese Bobtail
This is a very social type of breed. It will do things like greet people at doors so it would be a good type to train under a leash. You can train this breed a lot easier with praise and treats.
These cats would do well for leash training because of how laid back they are and they don’t like being in the same place for too long. The only downfall with walking them is they don’t really like strangers too much. If you can get around that they would be a good fit for walking with you on a leash.
• Scottish Fold
These cats would do well for leash training due to their desire to want to socialize a lot and the fact they don’t like being lonely.
As is said before you can train other cat breeds that I did not list here. Maybe even ones that aren’t typically into the idea. As long they are laid back and aren’t easily startled you probably have a good chance of training them to walk with you. Now that you have an idea if your cat is trainable or not here is how to train your cat to walk on a leash.
How To Walk A Cat On A Harness:
Leave The Harness In The Room With Your Cat
Don’t put it on them yet but just leave it in there with them enough to where they are used to them. It will make it easier to put the harness on them later on
Put Your Cat on a Harness
This is an obvious step but this is what you will be walking your cat with. If you don’t have a harness yet you can go to my article here “Best Lead And Vest Cat Harnesses You Can Buy” where I suggest some good ones. New noises can really scare your cat so before you put it on you might want to click it on and off again so they are used to the sound and are accustomed to what the sound is and where its coming from.
When you do put it on make sure the harness is snug on them and not too loose. To know if the harness is snug on them enough, if you can fit one finger into the harness it should be tight enough. Do not make it too tight as it will be uncomfortable for your pet. You might also want to put the harness on during meal time so they don’t focus on taking it off.
When you slip the harness onto your cat they might get slightly confused and may stumble around a bit because it’s their first time. Your cat will eventually adjust and will walk like normal again. You want leave it on for a while, around a day or so. That way they get used to it being on them. Once you can leave the harness on for more than ten minutes without strange behavior you’ll want to try adding the leash. You will want to get a leash that is around six to eight feet long as well.
Avoid Using Just A Collar For Walking
Do not hook your leash onto their collar if you are going to walk your cat because this is considered unsafe and they can escape a lot easier. The reason why you don’t do this is because cats can be choked very easily due to them having soft throats especially if they do something like climb up a tree while you have the leash on. Instead what you want to do is get a harness or a lead.
Leads vs Harnesses. Which One Is Better?
But which kind should you go with? Well, there are two types that you can buy. “Leads” which are the kind of harness that has a couple of straps that go around your cat and “walking vests” which is like the lead but instead of the straps your cat will wear a vest.
If you want buy one of these I would go with a vest. I say this because cats can escape from leads so vests would probably be your best bet. Vests are also good if your cat likes to pull on your lead a lot which is why you don’t want to use one that hooks onto a collar as cats might do this.
Best Cat Harness That I Suggest Using
The best cat harness you can use in my opinion is the “Kitty Holster Cat Harness”. I really recommend this one particularly because its the same one that Jackson Galaxy the guy from “My Cat From Hell” suggests as well. Not only that it just works really well. As for the leash I use the “Blueberry Pet Classic Solid Color Dog Leash” but any leash will do.
Walk Inside First
When walking your cat for the first time, you want to do this inside of your home rather than outside. Go around your house for a bit and when they stop walking, give them a light shove of encouragement to let know to walk more.
Saying nice things to them and rewarding them with treats is a good way to get them to repeat the behavior since it will add positive association to the harness and it will make it more likely for them to want to put it on again.
Your cat might not even move at all but give it time and there is a good chance they will change this. Use one of their favorite toys so they start moving around. The idea here is to get them to forget they have the leash on.
Why Do Cats Play Dead On A Leash?
You might come into this problem early into training them where you try to walk your cat or kitten and they play dead as you try to walk them. This is something to be expected since cats generally don’t like the feeling of a harness but why is this exactly?
Cats will play dead when put into a harness because it triggers a survival instinct that they do when attacked by a predator. Cats are also just really stubborn and don’t like doing new things that aren’t familiar to them. Give it a while and there is a good chance they will stop doing it after some time.
Here is the fun part. Now you get to do this outside once they start to get the concept of a leash and are used to being walked around. You want your cat to lead the way and you just follow them. If they wont go down stairs, just pick them up and continue on with the walk.
Make sure to do this in a safe area where there is no dogs or anything like glass or chemicals on the ground. This part should be easy and shouldn’t be any different then if you were to do it in the house.
Don’t Drag Your Cat
If your cat wont walk, do not drag them around because you can cut up their paws. The reason for this is because their nails retract and detract. If your cat is doing things like raising their tail or sniffing around it means they are relaxed and enjoying the walk. Walk your cat around a small area then when they are used to it after a while then you can start taking walks that are longer away from home.
If Your Cats Get Scared On The Walk
You might also have to deal with a “freak out episode” where your cat will get frightened over something. This is why I would bring a heavy towel with you. If this happens just cover them with the towel so you don’t have to worry about getting scratched and you can carry them back inside safely.
Keep in mind I would only advise bringing one the first couple of times. Once they are accustomed to walking you wont have to bring it anymore.
Take It Slow
Once you start walking you cat you really want to take your time with this since this can be an overwhelming experience to them especially if they have never been outside and have always been an inside cat.
Take short walks so your cat is used to its surroundings then gradually start walking more and more with each outing. Eventually it will just be a normal thing to them.
Can I Tether My Cat Outside?
Do not tie your cat to something then leave them unattended. this is a really bad move on your part because they could get tangled or even worse get attacked by a dog or some type of wildlife and they wont be able to escape. If you’re even more unlucky you could get them stolen.
Avoid Positive Reinforcement
If they start meowing because they want to go outside don’t do it. It tells them to do this if they want something so you will have to deal with a lot meowing in the future. Not something you want to deal with.
Consider The Time You Walk
Finally, make sure to go for a walk with them a little after they wake up. If they are about to go to sleep don’t even bother trying to get them to go walking with you because they will most likely be too tired to.
How To Walk A Cat Without A Leash
Believe it or not you can actually get your cat to do this if you train them on a harness enough. Once they get the idea of the harness take off the harness and try to get them to walk with you and see what happens. If there are dogs around or they catch a smell of something you may have a problem getting them down from a tree.
Walking Without A Leash Risks
Be careful when you do this because they could potentially get lost or hurt if you aren’t safe about it. This can also be risky because they are more likely to be exposed to viruses, bacteria or any other disease causing agents which can make them sick.
Another risk is speeding traffic or even poison. If you plan to go this make sure it is in a very safe environment where your pets can avoid these things.
Don’t Let Your Cat Walk Out The Door On Their Own
When you do go on walks with your cat I do not suggest walking them out the door on their own but carry them out instead. The reason why I say to not do this is because it will encourage your cat to dash out the door and you really don’t want to go out looking for them and getting lost.
If you do everything correctly and have some patience you have a good chance at walking with your cat which can be rewarding for not only you but your cat as well.