How to train your cat to walk on a leash?

Find out how to leash train your cat in our blog. Teach your cat to walk on a leash with our easy guide.

Who hasn't dreamed of taking their cat for a walk? If your little feline lives in an apartment without the possibility of going outside to frolic whenever it feels like it, it may be wise to teach it to go out on a leash in order to get some air. Keep in mind, however, that this learning can be (very) long and difficult.

1. Buy a harness

Buying a harness is the first step to walking your dog, as you can’t walk a cat in a collar. Why? Because a collar could injure the cervical vertebrae, trachea and larynx of your pet when it tries to struggle during the first few walks on a leash.

A harness allows better weight distribution and, therefore, presents little risk of injury. 

2. Get your cat used to the harness

In order for a cat to be able to withstand the feeling of the harness on its back, it must first be accustomed to seeing it in its living space. Leave it lying around for a few days on the ground so that your cat can smell it and deposit its scent.

Once this first phase is over, put the harness on for several minutes each day so that your cat becomes familiar with this new feeling. The ideal moment is right before feeding. When your cat eats, it will forget the presence of the harness. Don't forget to give your feline a little treat when you take it off. Once your cat no longer tries to remove the harness, you can move on to learning the leash.

3. Choose a leash

There are leashes designed specifically for cats. It’s ideal to opt for a long, light and flexible leash to give the cat a little freedom. Once you have chosen the leash, put the harness on your cat and attach the leash to it. Then let it drag behind the cat. The goal for the cat to get used to the leash, just like the harness.

Then, take the leash in your hands and let your cat direct you wherever it wants. After a few days, try to gently guide the cat on your own route. If the cat does not struggle, reward it with lots of petting and treats.

4. Don't force your cat outside

It is essential not to force your cat to do something that it does not want to do. Felines have a sensitive memory, so if they associate a bad memory with a situation or an object, they will avoid these situations and objects forever.

The outdoor environment can be particularly stressful for a cat. If your cat gets scared the first time it goes out and you force it to stay, it'll be scared of even walking up to the door its entire life.

5. Take him out to a quiet environment

The noises and movements of the street can be scary for our four-legged friends. For your cat's first outings, choose a quiet place such as a park, garden or balcony.

At first, keep the leash short, then as your cat relaxes, lengthen it. And don't forget, with each little victory, a treat!

6. Do not pull on the leash

If you encounter an outside element that is a source of panic for your cat (a dog, for example), above all, do not pull on the leash to bring him back to your side. It will only stress your pet further. Instead, take the cat into your arms and stroke it while talking to him softly.

7. Gradually increase the walking time

The first walk on a leash shouldn’t exceed 5 minutes, as you risk flooding your cat with too much information at once. Then, you can gradually increase the time you spend outside.

On the other hand, it is not recommended to unleash your cat even when it is completely used to the outside world. If your pet hears an unknown noise, it can run away or climb up a tree.