Tips On How To Leash Train Your Cat
The thing I most get from people is that they've never seen a cat walk on a leash. According to Animal Planet Jack is a Bombay breed and they like to walk on a leash, since they possess many dog-like qualities, so I may have lucked out. But I think any cat can be trained to walk on a leash if you follow the following tips:
1. Pick the right equipment to suit your cat:
When I got Jack, I knew I couldn't let him go outside on his own, so he'd be primarily an inside cat. But I also wanted Jack to have the best quality of life I could give him, so I decided I would take Jack for walks outside. I started when he was about 10 weeks old trying to put him on a leash. Someone gave me an extra dog leash they had, but the hook part that hooks on to the collar was too heavy and it weighed down too heavily on Jack's neck and he wouldn't walk on the leash.
I looked everywhere for a light-weight hook and most were heavy. But I finally found a leash for a very small dog and that worked like a charm. Jack had no problem walking on a leash after that because the hook was weighing down his neck.
Another problem I had was Jack had this two-prong snap collar and every time.Jack got startled he would jerk and the collar would come open and he'd go off running. Luckily it was winter time and Jack was just a kitten, so I started walking him inside so he didn't catch a cold. But the dilemma was how could I take him outside if his collar was unsafe and would snap open if he gave a big tug.
A friend gave me a bunch of old dog collars she had, and I tried a three-prong collar on Jack and it held when Jack would jerk when he heard a noise. So don't use a two-prong collar, but a three-prong, and your cat should be safe to take outside.
2. To harness or not to harness; that is the question:
For Jack it's a big not.
Several people I know recommended I use a harness to walk Jack. That that would solve my dilemma with the collar and Jack being able to break away. I gave it a shot and it was a nightmare. When I put the harness on Jack he'd take two steps and then fall on his side. He'd just kept tipping over and he would refuse to get back up.
I thought Jack was just being perverse. That was until the vet told me a harness makes a cat's body feel unbalanced. Thus, that's why Jack kept falling on his side. I quit using the harness and put Jack back on his leash and I had no further equipment problems. So if you're serious about taking you cat for a walk on a leash, pick one with a light-weight hook, use a three-prong collar and don't use a harness no matter how many people tell you to. I really think a leash is less confining to a cat and their more apt to walk on a leash than they will on a harness.
3. A cat takes you for a walk; you don't take a cat for a walk:
That's a distinction someone should have made to me when I was a kid and had a cat and popped a leash on him and was trying to get him to go where I wanted him to go. He fought me so much he started to choke and I never tried it again until Jack. Thankfully, I learned since childhood to let Jack take me where he wants to go, since it's his walk.
Of course, some of the places Jack wants to go are a bit hazardous to my health. It involves jumping over downed fences, climbing under tree branches and trying to balance on a ledge and not touch cars and set off any car alarms. It's not for the faint of heart.
4. Walk your cat where he wants to walk:
I had this nice little fantasy of taking Jack for walks down the sidewalk in front of my building. It's where I first tried to get Jack to go outside. But the sidewalk outside the front of my building is right next to the main road going in and out of town and Jack is terrified of the cars going by. Every time I tried to take him out front he'd start pawing at the front door frantically and I'd have to take him back in, immediately.
I, eventually got Jack used to walking outside the back door. It took some time. I started by just sitting on the porch with Jack until he felt more at ease and wanted to go out and explore the backyard. I gave up my little sidewalk fantasy, because this is Jack's walk and he should walk where he feels comfortable. Otherwise there's no point in taking him out if he's scared and miserable. The walk is supposed to make him feel happy and he's supposed to enjoy it.
5. Walk your cat when he wants to walk:
Unfortunately for me, it's when it's pitch black outside. He's black and no one can see him, and he feels completely safe. Unfortunately for me, again, my neighbors can see me. A few have stood on the porch and watched me wondering what I'm trying to do to their car because I'm standing by it and they can't see Jack. They probably think I'm trying to jack their car, no pun intended.
Now that it's getting towards winter, the night walks are going to have to stop. It's too cold at night. So I'm trying to get Jack to go out in late afternoon when the noise level in the back isn't too high. The real problem is when the snow comes. The back parking lot is slippery and treacherous and somehow I'm going to have to get Jack back to taking a walk down the hall, when he's used to walking outside now.
In conclusion, I think it's possible to even leash train a full-grown cat. You just have to preserve his autonomy as much as possible and I think he'll appreciate the fact you're taking him outside to get some fresh air and to enjoy the great outdoors in a safe manner.
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