Letting your cat out to roam alone can be particularly anxiety-provoking, especially depending on where you are. Indeed, if your fur ball is not well accustomed to the place, it can quickly get lost, be surprised by the surrounding noises, panic and have bad reactions, even run away. Walking her with a harness can be a very good solution to reassure you and ensure her safety. But as with dogs, teaching a cat to walk on a leash requires patience, and a few tricks… Here are 5 tips to help you get your cat used to it!
1/ Get him used to it from a young age
As for any education principle, it is always much easier to inculcate rules and habits to a kitten than to an adult cat. So, if you’ve just adopted a kitten or are planning to do so, it’s never too early to start harnessing her. An adult cat may be more temperamental and may not accept novelty, so don’t wait too long before putting it on!
2/ Putting the harness on inside the house
The outside world is full of noises, smells, and especially other four-legged companions, so putting your cat directly into the big bath outside can be stressful and even traumatic for him.
That’s why you should not hesitate to get him used to the harness indoors. Go gradually: put it on him a few seconds to see his reaction. If he tolerates it without any problem, get him used to wearing it every day for a little longer until he doesn’t mind it anymore. If he doesn’t seem to like the experience, just let him wear it for a few seconds and then repeat the experience the next day. Gradually, it should be possible to make him wear it longer and longer, a few minutes, an hour, until he accepts it completely.
3/ Petting and congratulations
A cat, contrary to popular belief, can be trained in the same way as a dog. Thus, it is important to congratulate him during the different stages of his learning. To do this, don’t hesitate to pet him and talk to him when you put him in his harness and he doesn’t have a bad reaction.
You can also give him a treat before you take off the harness so that he makes the connection between the two, which will help him understand what you want from him.
4/ Give him some independence
Once you’ve successfully completed these steps and he’s allowed to walk around in a harness, don’t be too prescriptive with your cat. Whether indoors to begin with or outdoors if the time comes, let him sniff out his new environment and adapt to outside noises and smells. Don’t pull too hard on the harness and let him be in control of his movements. This is how he will gain confidence, not by being guided too much.
5/ Gaining ground gradually
When you feel he’s ready and comfortable, you can take your cat to new places where he can run around and let off steam. There’s no shortage of choice: parks, forests, public gardens… Choose places that are open, quiet and where there is enough space for your cat not to be confronted by other animals. Keep in mind that cats are often not very bold and are not always ready to make friends with other animals.
You now know the tips for getting your cat used to wearing a harness and being able to walk him safely outside. You should also consider a safety harness that can be used in the car to ensure your cat’s safety during your travels.