leash training catsCats and leashes rarely mix. What seems like second nature with a dog simply doesn’t work with cats for one reason or another. Perhaps it’s part of a cat’s personality – which seems to view pet parents as roommates rather than strolling companions – or just a lack of evolutionary training, but cats don’t go for walks unless they’re prowling solo. But if you’re really dying to take your cat for a walk, there are success stories out there. The New York Times even devoted a story to the 4-year-old orange tabby, Mac, who went from shelter cat to leash-walking companion – and all it required was a specialized cat behaviorist! So why not make it you and your cat’s summer project to tackle walking on a leash?

1. The harness. You can’t just clip a leash on your cat’s collar and go, unfortunately. Beyond the leash itself, you’ll need a harness or walking jacket specially designed for felines, according to Mother Nature Network. This is much safer for your cat, but getting him or her to be cool with actually wearing it is another matter. MNN suggested leaving the harness around in your cat’s favorite spots, so he or she will get used to it. After a time, your cat will adjust to the harness enough to let you put it on. Make sure it’s comfortable, but secure.

The leash. The next step is to get your cat used to the leash. Once he or she has spent some time in the harness, roaming around your home, attach the leash and keep it on your wrist so that your pet will adjust to your gentle guidance, encouraging him or her to move one way and then another. Be sure to provide plenty of cat treats as rewards!

The outdoors. As MNN reported, this part of the experience may be different for indoor and outdoor cats. If your pet’s never been outside before, he or she might be nervous and uncomfortable at first. Cats used to coming and going as they please may just try and dart around. Again, moving slowly is important. Let your cat adjust – to the outdoors or to the limited range of the leash – in increments.

Three tips. The NYT’s story carried three essential tips every cat walker should know.

  • Set small goals
  • Don’t expect things to go smoothly every trip
  • Steer clear of dog parks!

This content is provided by the pet experts at Hartz.

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