How to Harness Train Your Cat?

Just like dogs, you can train cats to walk on a harness. I have done it with Hiro and Suki, but I can’t remember if ever made a post about how I did it. I did write about it on Anipaltimes.com. But not on Cats & Co yet! I feel like I’ve neglected you guys lately. Sorry about that.

Hiro is used to his harness, but still cautious and curious when going outside.

The Right Harness
Before you start the training, you need to purchase a harness that is comfortable and fitting. It’s a good idea not to use a collar. Cat collars aren’t made for a leash and your cat might easily slip out – and you don’t want that, when you’re walking outside. So it’s better to pull the leash from the chest, instead of the throat. A walking jacket is another alternative that works the same as a harness. If you’re about to buy a harness or a walking jacket you might want to measure your cat’s chest. You don’t want to come home with one that is too small for your cat. There are also several harnesses that you can adjust to your cat’s size, but the leash should be a lightweight leash, five to six feet is fine.

How to Start?
Take things easy and don’t stress out your cat or yourself.
Let your cat get used to the harness by letting him sniff it. If you want, you can place the harness close to your cat’s sleeping place for a day so he’ll get used to it.

After that you can take the harness and put it on your cat. Give your cat a treat as soon as you put it on. He might not like it first, fall over and refuse to walk. That’s alright, he just needs to get used to it. Try to get him to walk by offering him a treat, so every time he walks, he gets a treat. I also often give rewards with strokes and sweet words (“Good boy/girl!”). Try to motivate your cat to walk. Don’t make the sessions very long at first, five to ten minutes is more than enough, and you can make those sessions longer the more your cat gets used to wearing the harness. Get the harness off your cat when you’re done training, and reward your cat with a treat again, and repeat those training sessions every day. Don’t get frustrated if your cat doesn’t want to walk.

Suki refuses to walk when she is inside with a harness on. But curiosity wins, and she’s too curious to stay inside.

The Leash
When your cat has got used to the harness, it’s time to put the leash on. Use the same method as you did with the harness. I leave it on for five minutes, let the cat roam around the house — but be careful it won’t get stuck on anything with the leash, and take it off afterwards. Repeat the session everyday until your cat is used to the leash. When your cat is used to it, you can walk around inside your house with your cat while holding the leash. I suggest repeating this until your cat is used to having the leash attached to the harness, and you holding it, so your cat knows how things are going when he is on the leash.

Ready to go outside
For indoor cats only it could be scary to go outside all of a sudden. Strange noises, strange people and a lot of strange smells. Try to see how your cat reacts to the outside world by having him in his harness and holding the leash and opening the front door for a little bit, see how he reacts, and end the session. The next day you continue, but each day you open the door just a little bit more — remember to keep him on a leash — until he’s outside. You can also try it in your own yard first. It’s okay if your cat doesn’t want to go outside the first time, give it some time, it’s his first time ever going outside into the big wide world.

Take your time when you’re walking with your cat outside and don’t tug on the leash but let your cat lead the way. If your cat doesn’t want to come,  or you want to go another way, gently pull on the leash, use treats or pick him to lead him into the right direction. If he does, give him a treat. And if there are moments that he might be scared, try to distract him with some treats.

The most important thing is to have fun, both you and your cat.

For more tips, you can take a look at the post on Anipaltimes.

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11 Responses to “How to Harness Train Your Cat?”

  1. Bassas Blog

    Great idea! Tall person could attach Barnaby’s leash to mine and we could go on walks together. I’d be a bit worried that he might slow me down though – he only has little legs :)

    Reply
  2. alienredqueen

    Haha. Admittedly we didn’t “let them get used to it.” But we had near disastrous results with the harness. Chloe, our Bengal, did like you said and just laid over. It was pretty comical because we dragged her around the floor like that and she was just dead weight!!! Methos is a big boy, not fat, just big. Big paws, big head. Prob about 12-13 pounds. He is okay for a few minutes, but once or twice, my hubs had him outside and he’d flip out about something and start flipping around. We were afraid he’d either break his own damn neck or get out of the thing. When my hubs picked him up, he got clawed big time! I can’t remember really trying it with our third cat.

    Reply
    • Dianda

      Hahaha, Suki does the same! We can just drag her around. But if I try to lift her up she’ll hiss and growl.

      Yea, that’s the bad thing about having cats on a harness outside, there can be things that freak them out, and then you’re outside. Instead of picking him up, kneel down, hold the cat at the ruff on his neck, and cover his face in your armpit. It’ll calm the cat down.

      Reply

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