Choosing a harness
A harness and a 4- to 6-foot leash
is the best combo for training a
cat to enjoy going for a walk. A
harness sits comfortably across
the shoulders, under the tummy
and doesn’t place a direct strain
on the neck area. Also, it won’t get
Training a cat to walk on a leash enriches her lifestyle
by safely allowing her to enjoy the sights and sounds of the great
outdoors. It’s also an excellent way of revving up her exercise
routine. There’s no question that a cat’s personality plays an
important role in deciding if she’s game for a fresh-air challenge.
An adventurous cat will probably embrace this opportunity,
while skittish scaredy-cats may resist, preferring the view from
the kitty condo instead.
And, it goes without saying that it’s easier to introduce the idea
to a kitten than to an adult cat. Either way, patience is key. Cats do
everything at their own pace!
in the way of your cat’s collar and
ID tags — essential accessories for
any outdoor activities.
Many cats feel more secure in a
harness. I have been leash-training
my 5-month-old kitten, Tory, and,
as a pet parent, I also feel more in
control using a harness and thus
more confident about embarking
on outings, too. (Also it’s easier to
wriggle out of a collar than out of
Fortunately, because of the
growing trend to take cats outdoors, there is a good selection
of harnesses available for both
adult cats as well as young kittens.
The H-style harness usually has
the same thickness as a collar and
goes around the shoulder area and
around the tummy. A mesh-styled
harness has a mesh band across
the shoulders and a thinner ribbon
band around the tummy. A harness
that clips on the side of the cat
and not under the tummy is much
easier to use. They’re often sold in
harness-and-leash combo sets.
Let the training begin
With a cat, it’s truly baby steps.
Start by simply leaving both the
harness and leash lying around the
house for feline inspection. When
I began the process with Tory, I let
the leash drag along the floor and
allowed her to “chase” it.
Teaching Tory the “sit” command
really helped her to focus and stay
in one place long enough to secure
the harness in place. Leaving it on
daily for about 10 minutes for a
few days is enough for a cat to feel
comfortable wearing it.
The next step was to clip the
leash onto the harness and let her
drag it around the house. After
Tory was ignoring both the harness
and the leash, I slowly started
walking her around the house.
There’s really no fixed rule as to
how long it will take for a cat to
feel comfortable to step outside
the front door. And initially, it’s a
really good idea to keep the door
open so that she can safely do an
about-turn and head back inside
of her own volition.