HOW TO WALK YOUR CAT ON A LEASH

Modern Cat - - Behaviour -

# 1 Have the right gear

You will need a har­ness specif­i­cally de­signed for a cat, and a leash. Do not use any­thing other than a cat har­ness or your cat can eas­ily ma­neu­ver out of it in an in­stant. {Edi­tor's Pick: We like Sturdi Prod­ucts Walk­ing Vest. Stur­diprod­ucts.com}

# 2 Start in­doors

For safety, help your cat get used to the cat har­ness and leash in­side the home be­fore ven­tur­ing out­side. Under di­rect su­per­vi­sion, place the cat har­ness on your cat mak­ing sure it fits snugly. Once your cat has be­come ac­cus­tomed to wear­ing the har­ness, at­tach the leash and hold onto it while he me­an­ders through­out the home. Give him cat treats, canned food, or his favourite cat­nip toys to help keep the ex­pe­ri­ence pleas­ant.

# 3 Mov­ing out­doors

Once he’s ac­cus­tomed to the har­ness and leash, it’s time to move out­doors. Make sure you al­ways place the har­ness and leash on your cat in­side the home be­fore mov­ing out­side. It’s best to start in an area out­side that is the safest and qui­etest. Ideal is a yard en­closed with a fence and free of noises that can cause your cat to be­come fear­ful. Let your cat move at his own pace and de­cide where to ex­plore.

# 4 Keep fear out of the equa­tion

Help your cat feel in con­trol and con­fi­dent by ma­neu­ver­ing a wand toy for him to play with while out­side. Cats can­not feel fear while they are in hunt­ing mode. The more con­fi­dently he be­haves on his out­ings, the more con­fi­dent he will be­come over time. I al­ways have the leash in my left hand and the wand toy in my right hand.

# 5 Ad­just ex­pec­ta­tions

Do not ex­pect your cat to walk on a leash like a dog. This is all about ex­pos­ing your cat safely to the out­doors to en­rich his life; not a les­son in “obe­di­ence” train­ing. Ex­pect your cat to be me­an­der­ing and ex­plor­ing while you hang onto the leash in­stead of him walk­ing per­fectly by your side. This is a chance for your cat to ex­pe­ri­ence the birds fly­ing over­head, smell all the new scents, and even roll around in the dirt for the first time! Let your cat dic­tate the di­rec­tion and pace. Many cat own­ers tell me that their once timid cat is now more con­fi­dent fol­low­ing the ad­di­tion of out­door treks to their rou­tine. They no­tice their cat’s be­hav­iour is el­e­vated, with the cat show­ing a new level of think­ing and en­gage­ment with their en­vi­ron­ment. Some of my clients even tell me their own lives have changed for the bet­ter by strolling through their neigh­bour­hood for the very first time, and, like their cat, their lives have be­come en­riched too!

Mieshelle Nagelschneider per­forms phone and video cat be­hav­iour con­sul­ta­tions na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally. You can con­tact her at th­e­cat­be­hav­ior­clinic.com.

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