It's a strange sight: a cat happily walking on a leash. If you remember the first time you put a collar on your kitten, then you are probably thinking that leash training is impossible. Although cats are strong willed and often stubborn, with a little patience and practice getting your cat to walk on a leash can be a possibility.
First of all, why would you want your cat to be able to walk on a leash? Do cats not get enough exercise indoors? There are many reasons an owner may want to leash train a feline. You take your dog out for a daily walk, while your cat looks longingly from the window. Why not take her out? If every time you open the door, your cat makes a run for it, then you may want to provide her the opportunity to spend time outdoors. Some physical problems, such as blindness, may require leash walking. There are a number of reasons why leash training will benefit you and your cat. Think hard, and you'll come up with one!
Like any type of training, leash training will take time. Think back to putting a collar on your cat for the first time. She probably bucked, jumped, and tried everything to get it off. But, what happened after a few hours? She completely forgot about the collar, and you haven't had a problem since. The good thing about leash training is that the collar is already there; you don't have to introduce her to that foreign object. If the collar isn't there, then you should take extra time in getting her accustomed to the collar. Don't introduce the collar one day and the leash the next; allow time between the two events. You may want to use a harness instead of using a collar. Harnesses are harder for your cat to wiggle out of, but the decision is completely up to you. Like introducing your cat to a collar, take time introducing her to a harness; and leave a fair amount of time between the harness and leash introductions.
Once your cat is accustomed to the feel of the collar or harness, then practice attaching the leash indoors. Hold the end of the leash and keep your cat in place. Don't pull or drag your cat; instead, try to keep a little slack in the leash. Let your kitty do what she needs to do to explore the leash. Keep the leash on for a few minutes and then take it off. Repeat this the following day, but keep the leash on a few minutes longer. Try walking around the house with her. Let her lead, while you follow. After a few days, your cat should be accustomed to the feel of the leash. Never get angry with your cat! Remember that training takes time and patience.
The first time you take your cat outdoors on the leash should be relaxed. If you live near a busy street, then consider taking a car trip to a park or other quiet place. You do not want your cat to be frightened the first time she is outdoors. During the first walk, let her lead and do what she wants to do. She will be curious and want to smell different plants and objects. Again, do not drag her or force her to move. It will take time for her to understand what it is you want her to do.
Never underestimate the power of treats! From the beginning, treats should be used to reward your cat. Every time you take off the leash, then give her a treat. If you have a cat that refuses to move while attached to the leash, then grab a few treats and a friend or family member. With you holding the leash, have your helper walk a few steps in front of you and coax your kitty with the treat. This may be a slow process, but your cat will soon learn that moving forward results in a treat.
A cat on a leash may be a funny sight, but leash training can be rewarding for both the cat and the owner. Whether your cat needs more exercise or you just want her to spend time outdoors, teaching her to walk on a leash is a way to make sure she's safe. Take time in training, and slowly introduce her to the equipment. Start indoors and then move to a quiet place outdoors. Always have treats handy to reward her for her efforts. With a little patience, you'll have a leash-walking cat in no time!