How To Leash Train A Cat

Cats On Leashes

Cats are independent creatures. But with gentle and intuitive training, you can train your cat to wear a harness and leash. It’s best to start training when your cat is young, but older cats can be trained to use a harness.


If you have an inside cat, you can safely take your cat out to experience the world if they are wearing a harness. Even if you don’t want to be taking your cat for a walk, harness training is an advantage if and when you travel with your cat.

Consider your cat’s temperament. Is she a bit nervous? Is walking outside something she would enjoy? If you live in a busy area, walking on the sidewalk might not be a fun experience. Maybe sticking to your own backyard would be a good idea.

When you eventually get outside, it won’t be like walking a dog. You won’t go trotting down the street. Your cat will want to inspect every flower, have a nibble on some grass and have a roll in the sun.

The following steps aren’t meant to be all attempted in one day. Try them gradually, and don’t try the next step if you’re cat isn’t happy. If a step in the training is not successful, repeat prior steps and try again.

  • Don’t try to force the cat, the slower the process, the better.
  • Get a harness designed for cats. Aim for a harness shaped in a figure 8. A walking jacket specifically for cats is best.
  • Ensure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date, and that she is protected from fleas and ticks.
  • Be relaxed, your cat is attuned to your mood.
  • Allow your cat to inspect the harness on her own terms Leave it for a few days in a place that the cat will be.
  • When the cat is relaxed, play with her with the leash. Show her it’s a plaything and not something to be feared.
  • Put the harness on the cat without the leash. Let her walk around the house. Give her lots of praise and some treats. Start with short sessions, a few times each day. Don’t leave her unsupervised in these early stages.
  • After about a week of daily harness training, try attaching the leash to the harness, but still stay indoors. Let the leash drag at first.
  • After your cat is used to the leash, very gradually pick up the leash and walk with your cat. Use treats. Hold the treat at her eye level and walk ahead, tugging on the leash very gently. When she walks up to join you, give her a treat.
  • Practice walking on leash each day for a few weeks before attempting to go outside.
  • When you decide you are ready to go outside, carry her outside. Don’t let her think that she can walk out the door any time she wants.
  • Go for a walk outside somewhere safe and close, for example, your front porch.
  • Each day gradually go further, down the driveway, later maybe even onto the sidewalk.
  • Take a thick towel with you if you are venturing very far outside of your property. If something scares your cat and you want to return home immediately, being able to scoop your cat up with a towel will be safer for both of you.

Simon the cat does not like the idea of being on a leash. (He has a harness on, so he is being dragged by the shoulders, not the neck.)

Ruby is saying no thank you….

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