You might want to know how to train a cat to use a leash for a number of different reasons, whether it’s because you would like to take them out on a walk or simply for them to get used to the great outdoors with some control mechanism so they can’t wander off and get themselves into all sorts of trouble.
Just like any other cat training, the secret is to do it in small steps and have a lot of patience. It is easier to train a kitten to use a leash but with perseverance you should be able to train an adult cat too.
First you must introduce your cat to its new harness and the best way to do this is with a bit of fun so your cat doesn’t freak at the sight of it. So dangle it in front of them, wave it around, let them paw it, bat it, drag it across the floor. The aim is to get the cat comfortable with the harness.
Once your cat is happy to interact with the harness, drape it across them, letting them get used to the weight. If your cat lets the harness stay on their back, treat them immediately. If the shrug it off, continue using it as a toy and try again later. Keep trying (without stressing your cat out) until they decide that they’re happy having the harness draped on them.
If your cat is happy having the harness draped across them try fastening it, if they let you do it, treat them immediately, if they refuse, go back to just draping it across them but don’t reward their behaviour with a treat, only treat again once they move towards you being able to fasten the harness.
Now you have the harness fasten, it’s time to add the leash, after all this articles all about how to train your cat to use a leash! Attach the leash but don’t pull on it, just let the cat drag it behind them and encourage them to play with it so they begin to get accustomed to what it feels like when the leash is pulled.
Once your cat is used to the harness and the leash, try walking around the house with them first, make sure their happy with the tugging on the harness and it’s not hurting them in anyway.
The next stage is to take them outside, stick with familiar territory first so usually your back garden. Spend a few minutes each day outside with the leash on, if your cat has never been outside then this stage is crucial. They need to mark their territory and it will be like a homing beacon for them when they start to go on solo adventures.
Now you’re both happy with the harness, leash and the outdoor it’s time to start venturing further out, build up the time and distance gradually and try to keep your walks to quiet areas so there’s nothing to startle your cat. Bear in mind though that cat’s paws aren’t made for pounding concrete so if a grass option is available go for that instead.