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At any time of year, particularly summer, it’s not hard to find happy dogs on leashes sauntering along with their owners. Wishing your cat could accompany you too? With time, patience and the right equipment, leash training your cat is possible.
Walking your otherwise indoor cat on a leash can open a stimulating new world to your kitty, says Warren Eckstein, author of How to Get Your Cat to Do What You Want. For free-roaming cats, the outdoors poses dangers, such as other cats, traffic, dogs, abuse from humans and poisons. A leashed cat can safely enjoy the rich smells, sights and sounds of the outdoors without the risks, Eckstein says.
Will Your Cat Walk on a Leash?
Personality is the biggest factor in determining whether or not you can successfully leash train your cat. “Breeds and ages do not matter as much as type,” explains cat behavior consultant Jennifer Michels. “A cat who is confident and curious will take to the outdoors better than a nervous cat.”
If your cat cooperates with tasks like clipping nails and brushing teeth, you’re more likely to be able to work together on leash training, says Michels. Older cats that are a bit cranky as well as cats with health problems probably aren’t good candidates for training. You should also consider where you live. If your neighborhood is busy and noisy with lots of traffic, shouting kids and barking dogs, walking on a leash might not be a positive experience for your cat.
However, cats in general are trainable, says Eckstein. Follow these steps, and you and your feline may soon be enjoying the great outdoors together:
If you have the patience and time to leash train your cat, you’ll be rewarded with a unique kitty-owner experience. “It gives you and your cat something to really bond about,” says Eckstein. Once you start taking your cat for walks, don’t be surprised if your feline looks forward to your daily constitutionals. “I’ve actually seen cats bring their harnesses to their owners to say it’s time for a walk.”
Kim Boatman is a journalist and frequent contributor to The Daily Cat, based in Northern California whose work has appeared in The Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press and the San Jose Mercury News. She is a lifelong lover of animals and shares her home with three cats.