How do I train my cat to walk on a leash?

Cats are notoriously hard to train. Doing whatever the heck you want whenever you want is part of being a cat. But you can get them to do it if you really want to - it will just take some patience and some effort.

   

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First, you've got to get a cat leash. There are a number of good brands, but the key factor is finding one that fits your cat well. If the leash is too tight, the cat will be uncomfortable and won't be willing to cooperate on anything. Too loose, the cat might wriggle out and escape. Most of them are adjustable. You probably want to go with a harness instead of a traditional leash that just links onto the collar. It gives you a little more control and it has less risk of escape.

This one costs $7.80, and it's got a harness that should adjust to the size of your cat. It's nylon and has a "swivel ring" which is to keep the leash from getting dragged into the cat's legs. It looks like you have to buy the leash separately though.

After you've got a leash, you need to get the cat used to it. If you have a harness, that's step one. Put it on the cat without the leash part and let the cat get used to wearing it for a day or two. If it freaks out, you can do the regular things you'd do to calm your cat - distracting it with a toy, food, or whatever. If the cat seems really aggravated with it, then start out with short periods. Put it on, make him deal with it for a little while, then take it off. Do that every day for a week or so, making it longer and longer each time.

Once your cat is somewhat used to the harness, put the leash itself on, but don't use it. Let the cat drag it around for a little while. This is to get the cat used to it being underfoot. Walking any animal is going to occasionally result in leash tangles, etc., and you don't want your cat getting angry or frustrated when that happens. You do have to be kind of careful though and be on alert. You don't want the cat getting tangles up into it so he can't move or getting caught in the furniture. Untangle him if that happens, but keep it on.

After a few days of doing that for a little while each day, pick up the leash and start getting the cat used to walking with you. At first you'll want to let the cat lead and not try to interfere too much. You're basically just following him around. But after awhile, start trying to lead. You do this with light pressure on the leash, not tugs or pulls. You aren't dragging your cat somewhere, you're nudging him. After you get used to it indoors, move outside, preferably to a backyard or a controlled area. You really don't want to go on an actual walk until your cat has it down.

Finally, you should always check the harness and leash very carefully before leaving the house. You don't want your cat getting away from you. You also should walk your cat in places where there aren't much traffic, etc. - it's just safer that way.

 

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