While not all cats will want to explore the great outdoors, many benefit from the enrichment and natural stimulation. If you are interested in leash training your cat, and not just dragging them unwillingly behind you, read on for tips below!
The first step to getting your cat ready to explore outside is finding the best harness. There are many styles and sizes in the market, so you may need to buy more than one before finding the most comfortable and secure design for your cat. Once you have a harness, introduce it to your cat and try putting it on. It's not uncommon for cats to freeze up, collapse on the floor, or try to wriggle out of it in their first few fittings. Keep putting the harness on for a few minutes each day until your cat seems to be comfortable and can walk normally. Offering treats and lots of love will help your cat build a positive association with the harness.
Once your cat seems to treat its harness as a second skin, try adding the leash. You'll want to make sure you hold the leash upright and follow your cat's lead. Don't try to drag your cat in the direction you want to go, or hold the leash too loosely or tightly.
If your cat seems comfortable walking around the house with you in its harness and leash combination, it is time to try going outside. It is recommended that you pick up your cat to take it outside when it is in its harness, that way it learns it can go outside when you choose to do so. Be patient with your cat as it takes in the many sights, sounds and smells of its new environment. Chances are your cat may want to just roll around in the grass or dirt and watch everything around it on its first few outings. As it gets comfortable, your cat will become more curious and brave and walk around on its own.
Some cats will feel more comfortable going outside if they know they have a safe place to retreat after being startled by a sudden noise or movement. If you are walking in a front or back yard, try keeping the door propped open so your cat has the option to head back inside, or bring a cat backpack or pen that they can hide in.
Leash training your cat takes time, but it can be incredibly rewarding for both your cat and you. Walking outside in a harness provides a great break in routine to your cat for its physical and mental well being, while keeping it safe under your watchful eye.
If you are looking to leash train your cat, or go outdoors in a carrier, we have some great products on our Tamadori website. Check out our "For Exploring" section for cute backpack carriers, harnesses, and portable catios.
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