How to teach your cat to walk on a leash
Teaching a cat to walk on a leash is different than walking a dog. Sometimes you can cue them to follow you, other times you may be following them. But you CAN train them to do it! Here is a short guide to getting your cat trained to walk with a leash.
Training cats in our shelters provides mental and physical stimulation, facilitates positive associations with humans, and can build confidence in shy or fearful cats – and it can have the same positive impact on your pet!
Before we get started, it’s important to note that outdoor activity with your cats should always be supervised. Cats left outside to roam freely face an average life expectancy of two to five years. In contrast, cats living within the home enjoy an average life expectancy of 12 ½ years. Read this blog to learn more about keeping cats safe outdoors.
- 6-8-foot leash
- Feather wand, or any object most likely to get your cat’s attention
STEP 1: Familiarize your cat with wearing a harness – the cat should be comfortable wearing it for about 10-15 minutes before working with the leash. Teach a cat to wear a harness.
STEP 2: Attach the leash to the harness. *Note that you should never attach the leash to the cat’s collar as they may be able to pull or back out when they feel too much tension.
STEP 3: Start in a quiet, safe place, like indoors, or in a securely fenced yard to allow the cat to get acclimatized to the leash.
STEP 4: Wait patiently until there is no tension on the leash, then click (if you’re using click training) and treat. As long as he is not pulling, allow him to move around with the leash on, following him to prevent tension on the leash.
STEP 5: Using the feather wand, or other target object, have the cat follow the target – rewarding the cat again if they can follow the target for one or two steps.
STEP 6: Gradually increase the number of steps the cat must take to get the treat.
*NOTE: once the cat is following the target for 10 or more steps, add a cue like “Let’s go” to signal them to follow you.
STEP 7: Going for a walk outside. Start with a quiet location and time of day. Keep in mind there are things that might frighten your cat, like loud noises, approaching dogs, moving vehicles, etc.
*NOTE: For the first few walks, you might want to take the carrier with you, so that if they become frightened, you can put them in the carrier (a towel or blanket can also be used to wrap them up if they become frightened and need to be carried back to the house). Also, be mindful that holding your cat while they are frightened and panicked, may result in them scratching you or injuring themselves.
- Keep the walks short (10-15 min.)
- Carry treats to reward good behaviour
- Avoid tension on the leash
Have fun! For more training tips for your cat or other pets, visit shelterhealthpro.com.
Speaking for the ones who can’t speak for themselves
Keep up the good work speaking for the ones who can’t speak for themselves. A society who cares for their animals is a better society. Thanks for your good work!