by Anna Karsten

How to Teach Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

When we first got Poofy we were told that Ragdolls aren’t meant for outdoors. Ragdolls are known for their intelligence and desire to follow their human’s every move. Truth to be told I can see why.

Poofy has always been the clumsiest cat – he can’t even hunt a bug. He was so bad with trying to get squirrels in our garden that they totally didn’t care for him jumping around him or sometimes even on them. He would fall off trees and only recently learned how to jump on a kitchen counter – at the age of 3 (and still falls off sometimes).

Our Ragdoll was way too trusty that he would easily get stolen or eaten by something if we let him outside alone. Leash training was the only way to bring Poofy with us for outdoor adventures since my husband refused to go around with a cat stroller 😛

While we might have failed to teach him some other things – like toilet training, he’s mastered the leash walking and is now a fully hiking loving kitty!


Why You Should Leash Train Your Cat?

Your Cat Will Be Less Bored

It’s a great way to change things up, stave off “play boredom,”. Once Poofy got a taste of it, he wants to explore. We have no issues bringing him to cafes, take him hiking in the Italian Dolomites, or simply take him on a plane without having to worry what happens when he gets out of the carrier (and you know you always need to take the cat out of the carrier for security).

Your Cat Will Be Cooler and More Comfortable

When we started researching cat leash training we stumbled upon many websites saying that if your cat is one who typically avoids hanging out anywhere near the front door and doesn’t exhibit any interest in the great outdoors you shouldn’t bother. This is the worst advice ever!

Poofy never wanted to go outside because he had no idea what’s behind the door. Now that he knows he even scratches the door if we don’t walk him every day! It gave him the confidence to try new things around the house as well.

Important: Make sure your car is vaccinated and microchipped before you let him outside. You don’t want your cat to get sick before he embarks on his adventures.

cat on a leash

How to Start Leash Training Your Cat

If your cat is still a kitten, you’re in luck of making him a true adventure cat. Kittens can adapt easier to new situations than adult cats. However, don’t worry, an adult cat can be easily trained as well, even if your furball is grumpy at first.

Think about it, when you first put a collar or leash on your dog, he won’t behave perfectly. If dogs were behaving so great from the beginning, there wouldn’t be so many dogs training schools everywhere.

The first few times in his harness he was refusing to move until he realized that he isn’t going anywhere without his harness. He had a choice of staying home alone (which he hates) or accept the harness and come with us.

P.S. Clicker training was a big failure for us. Not only when it comes to leash training, but also other things. He cannot care less for the click.

After the cat is used to his harness, attached a leash to it and let him get familiar with it. It won’t be easy at first since cats tend to do whatever they want.

It took time for Poofy to get a sense of what people, bikes, and cars are, but now he only occasionally freaks out for the first 5 minutes and then doesn’t even want to go back home.

At 2 years old he was enjoying crowded Central Park a lot, chasing ducks, running up and down the rocks, and loved all the attention he got from everyone at the park.

hiking with a cat

My Best Tips for Leash Training:

  1. Take your cat to a quiet spot first before introducing him to crowded spaces. Start around the house, then quiet park, then you can try cities with people – but keep in mind that he might freak out at first.
  2. Get used to the attention. When people see a cat on a leash they tend to freak out, take photos of him and want to cuddle. Feel free to say no whenever you or your cat won’t feel comfortable.
  3. Essentially, your cat will walk you. You need to patient and be prepared to stay in one spot at first, while you kitty is sniffing everything.
  4. Don’t get mad at the cat that he doesn’t understand. It took Poofy half a year to understand commands like ‘walk’ and ‘stop’, but he’s now like a well-trained puppy.
cat leash training

Best Cat Harness

Picking the best cat harness is a challenge. My cat absolutely hates the full-body harnesses and walked funnily, so I had to find a different option. Many cats prefer it, mine doesn’t.

We used a different set-up for a while, but a few times he was able to easily get out of it, so while I can recommend an elastic leash that came with it or training, I can’t say the same about the harness.

This one worked perfectly when he was still a kitten and he’s currently using one with a bow. Plus, he looks very dapper with a bow.

I always put a pet name tag on him as well, just in case he sneaks out somehow. Also, make sure your cat is microchipped in an unlikely event of an escape.

cat on a leash

Additional Tips for Hiking with a Cat:

If you’re taking your car hiking or somewhere for extended periods of time, bring a carrier or cat backpack to let him hide at times (or simply when he gets tired). It helped Poofy a lot of different adventures!

Any questions? Doubts? Feel free to ask me in the comments below!

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