Every Cat Deserves The Chance to Learn To Walk On A Leash
Many people see videos of Kali-Ma and I walking such as the one here Kali-Ma walking in the snow and ask me “how can I teach my cat to walk on a leash?”. Kali-Ma and I have been walking together for over seven years now. You can learn more about the story of us here The Tail of Kali-Ma. I was fortunate that walking on a leash came naturally to her. Teaching any cat to walk on a leash is possible if the cat is willing to learn.
Walking on a leash is not for every cat, but every cat should have the opportunity to learn as it has health benefits for the cat. A cat walking outside will use different parts of its brain by engaging with the sights, sounds, and smells that it is not accustomed to. Cats will get exercise and with a little encouragement, and they may even want to go for a short jog! It can bond the cat and the owner. When Kali-Ma comes home from a walk she lays down and puts all four paws in the air and has a nice long nap often accompanied by her snoring. Sometimes I take a nap happily with her 🙂
Preparation For Teaching A Cat To Walk On A Leash
First thing is first, and that is to make sure your cat has a microchip. If you do not have one I strongly suggest you see your veterinarian immediately. Even if you decide that teaching your cat to walk on a leash is not for you, every cat should have a microchip. This will protect your cat if ever it is lost, or becomes homeless due to forces of natures. I have my cat’s microchip registered with Homeagain.com. You can read more about their services on their webpage.
Secondly, you need to obtain a veterinarian prescribed flea preventative. There is no comparison between a veterinarian prescribed product versus the over ones sold at the pet stores or online. Kali-Ma uses Advantage Multi for Cats. The cost is $118.00 for an 8-month supply from my veterinarian’s office. Advantage Multi for Cats applied once a month to the back of my cat’s neck, protects her from; fleas, heart-worms, ear mites, intestinal parasites, roundworms, and hookworms. Talk to your veterinarian and decide what is the best prescribed preventative for your pet.
Escape Proof Harness
Once you have the preparation done the fun can begin. Teaching a cat to walk on a leash starts with a good, escape-proof harness. Below I have listed those that I have personally used along with some leashes. Cats can be like Houdini when it comes to harnesses and you never want to take your eyes off your cat for a single minute. Purchase a cat harness whenever possible, as a dog harness is often easy for cats to maneuver out of.
Practice Inside First
After you get your harness you will want to begin teaching your cat to walk on a leash inside your home. Gently place the harness on your cat and let your cat get accustomed to the harness first without the leash. Your cat is likely to walk backward when you first put the harness on. Do not panic as this is normal. Leave the harness on without the leash for five minutes each day, then ten minutes, then fifteen minutes, increasing the amount of time until you have done it every day for a week. At the end of the week, attach the leash. Let your cat walk around with the leash and the harness. Allow the leash to drag on the floor while your cat just walks around for a while. Then pick up the leash and walk around with the cat in your home.
Patience Patience Patience
Remember that this is a learning curve for you and your cat, and every cat is different. Some cats take longer, others less time. Be patient and see how the two of you progress. If your cat absolutely fights you all the way, then you will have to let the idea go. Do not force the cat if it is not adjusting to the harness. However, if you and your cat are getting used to the harness and leash, then it’s time to proceed outside.
Going Outside With Your Cat On A Leash
Remember It’s Loud Outside
Before you go outside there are a few things to remember. It is LOUD outside. Cats that have been inside are not accustomed to all those strange noises. When I began walking my cat outdoors, one car door closing, or one child yelling, was all it took and she was terror bound! So, what I suggest to many people is the cat stroller.
The Cat Stroller
The cat stroller is one of the best tools I used and still continue to use for acclimation of my cat to strange places and noises. It has a leash to secure my cat inside of it so she cannot jump out. Also, it has a screen on it that I can pull down to protect her from the elements or other people if she is feeling shy, and it is collapsible. I often put my cat in the stroller and we walk until we find a quiet spot and I then take her out where she can walk on her leash. I have included the link to the stroller I purchased many years ago here. It still is in excellent shape.
Final Thoughts and Tips…..
Cats do not walk in a straight line, as cats are not dogs. Cats like to stop, smell, and look around to see everything. Remember that this is all new to them, and even when it isn’t they may still want to stroll around. Kali-Ma will sometimes jog in the winter but in the spring she likes to zig, zag and observe all of nature investigating everything while she walks.
When you are outside with your cat, have patience with it. Encourage your cat. You know that voice you use at the office – do not use it with your cat. Speak kindly to your cat. Reward your cat with a healthy treat or extra brushing as it is learning this new skill. Teaching a cat to walk on a leash does not happen overnight, but it does happen. As is everything with cats, it happens at their own pace.
Cats give us so much and ask for nothing in return. Be kind. Be patient. Happy Tails to you until next time.