Cat on a leash.

Cats are incredibly intelligent, but beyond properly using their litter box, we do not expect a whole lot from them. Why is that? Is it because cats universally give off a vibe that they’re “above” being trained? They are undoubtedly capable of being trained, but perhaps it’s the way they’re approached that matters most. If you’ve ever wondered if you could (or should) leash train your cat, this could be the moment you’ve been waiting for.

Best of Both Worlds

Indoor-only cats live longer, safer, healthier lives than those allowed to go outside. That doesn’t mean that indoor-only cats have it made, though. Boredom, depression, stress, and anxiety can plague cats with little-to-no environmental diversity or enrichment. 

Cats that tend to stare out windows or attempt to escape through partially open doors are proper candidates for leash training. With an obvious desire to zip outside, they may be more likely to accept the necessary gear. That being said, however, all cats can benefit from a safe, positive excursion outside. 

Great Caution

It is possible to leash train your cat, but it is an experience best met with abundant caution. There is the risk that your cat can wriggle out of the harness and dash away from you unexpectedly. This can happen to even the most careful cat owners.

To mitigate the possible issues, invest in the best harness and leash. A jacket-style harness should fit snugly. As they walk ahead of you, the force will be distributed across the body. A lightweight, non-retractable leash, securely attached to the harness, will make training your cat easy and comfortable. 

Leash Train Your Cat

It may be worthwhile to slowly acclimate your cat to their leash and harness by simply leaving it out near their favorite spot, such as their bed. Over a period of time, try to put the harness on them. Remember, baby steps may be required here, as cats don’t always love to wear clothing or gear. Offer lots of praise and a couple treats to soothe any fears.

Once you get the harness on them, allow them to wear it for a little while just around the house. If they show any signs of discomfort or anxiety, remove it and try another day. The more consistent you are with exposing them to the harness, the better. Do not leave your cat unattended while in their harness.

Stepping Out

Some cats will leap and bound out of the door, others might fall to the ground with their tail between their legs. Either way, cat owners must be prepared. Again, entice them with treats and loads of encouragement. 

Start with a slow, easy walk around the backyard, increasing to a stroll around the home’s perimeter. Your cat may simply want to smell the air or nibble on grass.; whatever it takes to give them a positive outdoor experience!

Other Tips

Cut your time short if there is ever a threat to your cat’s peace of mind or safety, such as neighborhood noise or predatory animals. As time goes by and your cat demonstrates confidence, extend your walking route or time out back. 

We recommend that your cat’s vaccinations and parasite prevention medication be up to date. Also, if they haven’t been microchipped, now is the perfect time to have that done. They should also have new tags affixed to their collar before embarking on outdoor adventures.

If you have additional questions or concerns about how to leash train your cat, please give us a call at (210) 681-1391. Our vets and staff are always here for your cat at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital.