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Who says cats don't like leashes?

Updated on July 18, 2010
Therapy cat Tabby on a visit
Therapy cat Tabby on a visit

Whoever said dogs were the only ones who liked leashes was wrong.  You hear that, dogs?  This cat loves her leash! 

My human mom and dad got me when I was just four weeks old.  I quickly adopted them.  Right away, my humans noticed how outgoing I was.  I wouldn't stay in the box on the way home!  I've always loved attention, and will do whatever it takes to get it.  So, when Mom saw a harness at a fair, she got it for me.  I was six months old at the time, and just starting training to be a therapy cat (animal-assisted therapy).  Getting me used to a harness and leash would be an essential part of my training. 

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tabby, with human mom Karen, showing off her pawprint artworkCarbon and Skylar enjoying the sunny backyard on their leashesTabby on leash visiting with a Guide Puppy in Training
Tabby, with human mom Karen, showing off her pawprint artwork
Tabby, with human mom Karen, showing off her pawprint artwork
Carbon and Skylar enjoying the sunny backyard on their leashes
Carbon and Skylar enjoying the sunny backyard on their leashes
Tabby on leash visiting with a Guide Puppy in Training
Tabby on leash visiting with a Guide Puppy in Training

That first harness was more like a vest than a dog harness.  I will wear a full vest when I complete my training, so Mom figured it was better to have my first harness be more like that.  It had velcro strips that secured under my chin and my belly.  When Mom put it on me the first time, she made sure I got lots of petting while she was adjusting it.  Of course, being the calm kitty I am, I loved it!  I paraded around in it, then fell asleep wearing it. 

Encouraged by my acceptance of my harness, Mom got regular harnesses for the other cats in the family.  Every time we went outside that summer, and every summer since, we knew we had to have our harnesses and leashes on.  Whenever Mom takes them out of the drawer, we know that someone's going to get to go outside, and get all excited.  Skylar wears his to the vet and on trips outside.  Carbon goes outside with his on.  Sara and I have gone to the pet store and to an animal blessing ceremony on our harnesses and leashes.  I now have a regular one like the rest of the family, because I outgrew my vest.  Rori gets the vest now, once she becomes more used to being picked up. 

I am always so proud to wear my harness and leash, because I know it means I'm working.  I always am on my best behavior once it is on, and even put my paws out for Mom to secure the harness.  Besides when I was out with Sara, I have gone to the Home Depot, to a friend's office, on the bus, and various events downtown and around the city.  Each time, people say, "Oh, it's a kitty on a leash!" and Mom just smiles.  The most-heard comment is, "My cat would never do that; how did you train her?"  Well, now you know it can be done! 

Note from Tabby's human:  All my cats are very, very calm.  I would not recommend leash training with a scared cat, or one who does not like being picked up.  When leash training, give treats for progress.  If the cat decides to act like a snake and slither on its belly, encourage it to stand up by giving treats a short distance above its head.  If it persists in slithering, take the harness off and try again at least a day later.  Do not ever try to force a cat to do a trick, or drag it around on a harness.  Dragging it will discourage it from ever walking on a leash. 

Video of Tabby walking on a leash


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