We have grown accustomed to seeing dogs walking outside with their owners, but rarely do we see cats strolling on a harness with their human companions. Is it because it cannot be done when it comes to harness training a cat? Many people assume that cats are very particular animals that do not do tricks on command, thus cats are often falsely labelled as unteachable creatures.
The truth is that some cat breeds such as Siamese are as trainable as dogs when it comes to walking on a harness. The secret about walking a cat is:
- you need a lot of patience
- watch your cat's reaction to the harness attentively
- learn if walking outside is really a fun thing to do for your cat.
Cats are very sensitive and alert animals. They like to lurk behind a brush like object and pounce on their "prey" in a stealth fashion, so naturally cats resemble ninjas, do not like to be disrupted when they are inspecting a new area or calculating a hunting plan. Cats are also very cautious about their safety and would do anything to get out of a threat or a dangerous situation. Sometimes they'd go to extraordinary lengths to get rid of a harness which may end up hurting them. So it is important to know when to give your cat a break from training, when it is the best time to walk your cat and how to do it properly without causing any distress in your cat.
Walking on a harness is not for all cats. If your cat does not seem to enjoy it regardless of how much efforts you put into training, it is better to retire the idea of walking your cat outdoors.
Choose the right gear:
The first thing you want to consider before taking your cat for a walk is to choose the right harness. A fit harness must be worn comfortably and snugly on a cat. If it is too tight, it could inflict pain or even harm your cat. There should be enough room for you to insert 2 fingers between the cat and the harness, so your cat can wriggle a bit while the harness being securely fastened. A regular collar is not suitable for walking a cat since most cats can easily get out of it or hurt themselves from struggling to get out.
How to put on the harness:
Your cat may resist putting on the harness when you attempt to do it. She just needs some time to learn that the harness is perfectly safe and will do no harm. What you can do is offer your cat her favorite treat and a lot of encouragement when you are putting on the harness. Speak calmly and softly. It will help compose and soothe the cat. Also your encouragement will reassure your cat that she is in good hand. Initially your cat may act a little strange to have a harness strapped around her. Leave it on for a few minutes and then take it off. While the harness is on, bring your cat to a window or a door. By repeating this exercise several times a day for 7 - 10 days, your cat will begin to associate the harness with the outdoors while being acclimated to wearing the harness.
How to train a cat to walk on a harness:
In order to help your cat get used to being attached to a harness, at first let your cat lead in a walk. Provide treats to encourage your cat to keep moving forward. [See video below]
How to walk a cat outdoors:
Once your cat is comfortable with walking on a harness and having a lead attached to her harness, you can bring your cat outdoors to start her first adventure with you. Pick a time when there is not a lot of traffic and is relatively quiet.