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Leash training your cat
Many cat owners choose to take their cats out for regular exercise on a leash and harness, rather than letting them roam outdoors alone. Apart from being a safer solution, it also allows you to spend more quality time with the cat. However, it is important to remember that cats are not easy to train and therefore will not want to walk obediently by your side like a dog.
When and how to start leash training cats
The best time to start leash training your cat is when it is still young (about 6 to 7 months old). You will need to begin the process by choosing a suitable harness and a light leash, and these are available in a variety of colors and designs. Cat harnesses are generally adjustable, making them suitable for cats of all shapes and sizes. If you don't want to use a harness, you can buy a special cat jacket that is designed for a leash to be attached. When used with a light leash, a cat jacket can make your cat feel more comfortable and less restricted. Collars, on the other hand, are not recommended as cats can learn to escape from them.
Once you've chosen a suitable leash and harness, show them to your cat, then place them next to their sleeping area for a few days - this should allow your pet to become familiar with the new items. The next step is to place the harness on your cat, adjust it to fit, and then let the cat wander around the house for a short time.
After a few days, your cat should have gotten used to wearing the harness and will hopefully allow you to attach a leash. Once the leashes are attached, let your cat walk around the house again until it gets used to the feel of the new element - pay extra attention at this stage to make sure your cat doesn't get tangled up in anything. Once your cat is used to wearing both the leash and the harness, grab the leash and walk around the house with your pet. At first you will find that you just have to follow your cat around, but eventually you can start pulling on the leash to make your cat go where you want it to go.
The next step is to try to take your cat out into the garden. If your cat is not used to being outside, it may take some time to get used to the many new sounds and smells. While your cat is outside, you can try to make that time as fun and exciting as possible so that your cat sees it as a positive experience. Remember to regularly reward your cat for good behavior by giving it some of its favorite treats.
Once your cat is used to its leash and harness outdoors, it's time to venture a little further away from the house. It is best to choose a quiet time of day when there is likely to be less traffic and fewer people and animals around. It's also a good idea to buy a name tag and attach it to your cat's harness, just in case you run into any unforeseen problems.
If you have a local park, this is a good place to go, but be prepared to pick up your cat if you spot potential dangers. Even if you walk your cat, it will probably vary its pace, and may stop occasionally to explore things. If your cat suddenly becomes agitated, stop and wait until it has calmed down before you start walking again. Once your cat gets used to going out for regular walks, you can start to vary the time you spend outside and the distance you walk.
Dos and don´ts
To make sure you and your cat get the most out of your daily walks together, remember a few important things:
Always use effective rewards when training your cat to walk on a leash and harness.
Make sure your pet is fully vaccinated to protect it from all infections and diseases.
Make sure your cat has been spayed or neutered.
Don't be tempted to punish or yell at your cat if it doesn't respond to your commands - otherwise it will start to associate the leash and harness with negative experiences and may start to refuse to use them.
Do not leave your cat unattended when attached to the harness, as it could become entangled in something, resulting in serious injury.
Do not let your cat climb any trees or climb inside anything while you are out for a walk.
Training your cat to walk on a leash provides the perfect opportunity to explore the great outdoors without being exposed to any of the potential dangers that many outdoor cats face. Hopefully, as your cat gets used to his regular outdoor walks, you can both enjoy many hours of quality time together!