Leash training a cat can bring many benefits, not just to your cat, but to you as well. Without the proper mental and physical stimulation, your kitty becomes more prone to obesity and boredom. Not only that, but your couch might become collateral damage as your cat tries to look for entertainment. So, the question that many cat owners tend to ask is “Should I harness train my cat?”.
Taking your cat with you outdoors is an excellent way to give your cat the stimuli they crave. It allows them to receive enough exercise and mental challenges to live a healthy life. It also gives you more quality time with your feline pet. With harness training, your cat can experience the sounds, smells, and sights of the outside world in a way that is safe for them.
Can Cats Be Harness Trained?
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Absolutely! Although it is more associated with dogs, you can harness train your cat as well. Don’t let that common thinking hamper your cat’s chances of exploring the great outdoors. However, remember that harness training and walking outside are still up to your cat. Take note of your cat’s behavior. Does your cat like to hang out by the window and watch the great outdoors? Does your cat keep pawing at the glass? Does your cat try to go outside whenever you open the door?
These behaviors suggest that your cat actually wants to go for a walk. If so, then you should definitely harness train your cat. However, if your cat shows no interest or is even fearful of going outside, you might have a hard time with harness training. Some cats are content with being indoors. If your cat is like that, they can always enjoy indoor adventures instead.
Are Cat Harnesses A Good Idea?
You might be wondering how to walk a cat without a leash. However, this might not work well as your cat might get spooked and dart away from you. A harness and a leash will help you make the experience safe and secure. It prevents your cat from running away from you and getting lost. Therefore, you need to find a harness and cat leash before you begin training your cat to go outside.
It is not advisable to use a collar on your cat because they have a delicate throat and neck. A collar can end up choking them when they tug during your walk. It can even lead to worse injuries. On the other hand, a cat harness is secured around your feline friend. It is worn through the front legs and over their shoulders. The pressure is distributed evenly across your cat’s chest this way, making it a much safer option.
How Long Does It Take A Cat To Get Used To A Harness?
A lot of patience is needed when leash training your cat. You begin with finding a harness and leash that will fit your cat’s specific needs. After you’ve bought a properly-sized harness, it is time to introduce it. Try leaving it near your pet’s food or favorite toys. You can also try holding it out and let your feline pet sniff it. You should also snap and unsnap or open the Velcro to let them become accustomed to the sound the harness makes. This will help them get used to it faster.
Now that your kitty is aware of the harness and leash, you can try putting it on your cat. Try slipping it on your cat during mealtimes so that they are distracted. Don’t fasten it for the first few times as well. Do this repeatedly until your cat becomes more comfortable with wearing it. After that, you can try snapping it close. Ensure that the harness has a snug fit, meaning you can insert at least two fingers underneath the harness. A too tight or too loose harness can pose issues like chafing and your cat escaping from the harness.
When your cat is comfortable with the harness, you can try attaching the leash. Keep in mind that you might not be able to go on a walk immediately as well. Carry your cat outside and go somewhere quiet nearby – like your fenced backyard. This will help them get acclimated with being outside. Don’t force your cat to go outside their comfort zone.
All in all, it can take anywhere from several days to a few weeks to get your cat comfortable in the harness. Just remember to be patient, and you will surely succeed with harness training your cat in no time.
Is It Too Late To Harness Train My Cat?
Cats, as you may know, can be very stubborn. Nothing can move them if they really do not want to do something. Therefore, it is best to start their leash training while they are still kittens. If possible, start when they are around eight weeks old. This is because they are more open to walking outside on a leash than an adult cat. Whereas, a kitten younger than eight weeks might be overwhelmed by the unfamiliarity the outside world brings.
However, just because a kitten is easier to leash train doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try it with your middle-aged or elderly cat. A cat that has passed the impressionable two-month mark only means that it’ll take you more time to teach them to do new things. But this doesn’t make it impossible. You need patience, some treats and toys, and a lot of praise to encourage your hesitant pet to take to harness training. These will help your older cat establish a positive connection with it.
Harness and leash training is usually associated with dogs. But that doesn’t mean their feline counterparts shouldn’t be given the opportunity to do so. It provides your cats with the mental and physical stimuli to prevent obesity and boredom. Listen to your cat and watch their behavior as they will personally let you know that they want to explore the outside world. Just make sure that you have the right harness and leash with you, and you are ready to train your cat for the great outdoors.
If you need more tips on cat harnesses, click here to check out our article on “Can A Cat Wear A Harness All The Time?“.