How to Leash Train Your Cat

Even indoor cats need a little taste of the outside once in a while. Did you know that it’s easy to leash train your cat? A safe alternative to letting your cat roam free outdoors, leash training also gives you and your cat a chance to get a little bit of exercise - and watch them enjoy the great outdoors! Here’s how to get started.


Picking A Cat Harness

The most important thing you can do to walk your cat safely is to get a proper cat leash and harness. You don’t want to use a flat collar with your cat because they may try bolting, and that could be bad news. Get a harness that is secure and won’t slip off. You may want to get a bungee-style leash so that if they do try to chase something, there will be a little bit of give before they reach the end of the line. 


Getting Your Cat Used To A Harness

Start out by letting your pet sniff the harness. Reward them with some treats and call it a day.

A brown tabby wearing a blue harness, walking in some flowers.

Next day, repeat the first step. If they’ll allow it, put the harness on them, without fastening any of the clasps. Again, reward with treats and praise. Take the harness off them and repeat this step as needed in the following days until they don’t protest having the harness on.

Once they don’t mind having the harness on them, try attaching the leash and walking around an enclosed indoor area so they get the feel of resistance that comes with the leash. When they are totally comfortable with both the harness and leash, try out short walks in a safe, quiet part of your neighborhood. Keep in mind that your cat may be more interested in rolling around than actually walking - that’s ok!


Troubleshooting Walking Your Cat

The key to success is PATIENCE. Animals instinctively resist restraint, so patience, and kindness, are the keys to getting your cat to accept the harness. Once that's done, you'll have a walking buddy for life! It's totally worth it. 

If your cat is progressing nicely, but then gets startled on a walk - don’t worry. Just start at the beginning. Put the harness on, using treats and praise. Stick close to home for a while until they feel comfortable enough to venture out again. 

Reach out to local cat groups and find other adventure cats if you’re willing! You probably can’t walk them together - but you can certainly share some pictures!

Other Concerns

If you take your cat outside, they may encounter fleas or ticks in the wild, so it’s essential to keep them protected. For most cats, you’ll likely just need flea protection, but if you’re walking around in tall grass, consider getting tick protection as well. Running a flea comb through your cat’s fur after an adventure can help you find fleas or ticks before they start biting.


We Can Help

If you have questions please give us a call, send us an email, or ask during your next visit! Our staff is incredibly well educated and always happy to help.  We have over 30 years as Portland's biggest independent pet store behind us. We'd love to see you!


Need more help training your cat? Check out this video!