How to get your cat used to the leash? This is a question that comes up quite often during my consultations, along with other questions such as “should I walk my cat on a leash? Can I take my cat with me on a picnic?” It’s completely normal to ask these questions. And I completely understand the need to involve your cat in your life, to want to take him out, just like we like to see other horizons from time to time!
Yes, but… is it a good idea? And if so, how to make your cat accept this object synonymous with constraint and freedom at the same time? This is what I explain in the article just below 🙂
Can cats be walked on a leash?
The biggest thing we have in common with cats is that we are all unique! That being said, cats are a different species from the human species, so their vision of the world is different from ours.
Cats have what is called associative memory: if they experience a difficult, painful, or even traumatic sensation at a certain moment, under certain circumstances, then the next time the same stimulus comes back, they will remember their suffering (physical or emotional), and this will stress them.
Basically, if your cat has a bad first time outside, he may not want to go outside again afterward. It is therefore important to do things quietly, at the right pace, so that it becomes more and more pleasant for him.
It is quite possible to gradually get a cat to like to go outside on a leash. Once again it is a question of proceeding gently. If you pass the harness directly to your cat and then run outside, chances are that your cat will remain petrified on the spot, with dilated pupils… mortified… and then the mere sight of the harness may frighten him. It would be a pity!
BUT it is also important to know that not all cats are especially candidates for outings (all the more so for urban outings I would like to say). There are cats that are very fearful, or so attached to their house that going out is too upsetting for them. And then there are some very curious cats who might be ok for a walk once in a while. So it’s all about character, emotional management.
In short… each cat has its own thing, and I’m sure you’ll “feel” whether your cat will like the experience or not. If by any chance it turns out that your cat doesn’t like the experience at all, then don’t inflict this unnecessary stress on him. If your cat’s interior is well laid out and has enough stimulation, then don’t worry about going out.
Finally, before you too embark on the experience, you should ask yourself if you will be ready to manage regular outings afterward, to deal with meowing in front of the door, in short, to accept that this can also have constraints.
When it can be useful to get your cat used to the leash?
- If you take your cat with you on vacation, for example, and want him to get some fresh air in the garden, without the risk of losing him.
- During a long car trip, when you stop so that he can stretch his paws safely. I insist on safety: do not open the doors while you put the harness on him because he could run away at full speed and you would lose him… Be extremely vigilant!
- Simply if you want to get him used to regular outings, let it bring him fulfillment in his daily life.
I recommend a sling rather than a collar, which will be more comfortable! The sling will wrap your body better. I also advise you not to wear a bell… Yes, the cat is a hunter and also a prey… so it is not very pleasant for him to be unmasked. Without counting the incessant gling-gling that we ourselves would not support more than 24 hours around the neck or ears!
How to get your cat used to the leash?
First of all, start by leaving the harness lying around and leash on the ground; the cat, curious, will go sniff it or even play with it. Gradually he will slowly get used to these “tricks”! He will put his scent on it, which will make it less dubious for him!
Later, put the harness on your cat; choose a moment when he is calm, not running or playing! Probably he won’t enjoy the experience, he’ll probably wiggle a little, because he’s not used to this “thing” around him. Don’t panic.
Let him/her stay in the harness for 1 to 2 hours a day, for several days.
Later still, attach the leash to the end of the harness and see how the cat reacts. Again he may not like it at first, you have to be patient!
Finally, try a mini exit, on the landing, in the yard, etc… In short, you will have understood it, we go there gradually before arriving in the street!
Which leash should I choose for my cat?
It all depends on how you want to use it! If it’s only for very occasional use, you can be satisfied with a collar and a leash all the simplest. What I use, personally, is a harness. Again, for very occasional use, a simple harness may be enough, like this one for example:
For more daily use, choose a more comfortable, slightly more padded, softer sling that will wrap her small body well and won’t pull on her neck. For example, the Kerbl Active leash and harness model from Kerbl.
A long leash is ideal if your cat likes to wander around if you are taking him on vacation and you want him to be able to explore the garden without the risk of losing him. The New Classic model by Flexi goes up to 3 meters!
In the car, there is the Trixie safety harness model (which will be my next purchase I think!). The harness is padded at chest level, and the leash clips to the end of the seatbelt! Perfect for long trips, and/or if your cat can’t stand its carrier!
As for letting the cat go out in the garden, during vacations, for example, you can, once he is used to the harness, directly attach a long leash: there is more chance that your cat will appreciate it then!