This is how it works! First things first: not every cat can be used to a harness and leash. Whether your cat is suitable for it depends on its character. But why are we talking only about a harness and leash, but not a collar? Classic leashes with collars for cats are not suitable, because they can get out of them relatively easily. By the way, the same is true for some dog (breeds). In addition, there is an increased risk of injury and self-strangulation for cats with collars. To get your cat used to a harness, you first need the right harness!
Most cats love to roam freely in nature and (almost) always find their way home due to their natural sense of direction. Getting a cat used to a harness can be a challenging task because of this. The sooner you start getting your cat used to a cat harness, the better. With a few tips, you can get your cat used to its harness and enjoy walks in nature with it! The ideal cat harness should have a strap around the neck, a strap around the belly, and also a bar across the belly that connects the two straps.
By the way: cats have much less endurance than humans and dogs. Therefore, we strongly recommend a cat backpack for your joint excursions! This offers your cat a safe retreat, no matter where you are, and you always have a place with you where she can rest. Many cat backpacks also have pockets to store all of your essentials. Plus, you’ll always have your hands free!
Photo by Amber Kipp on Unsplash
Harness & Leash
The perfect cat harness should have a chest strap and a back strap. It should also be made of a soft material. As a leash are suitable normal leashes, flexi leashes or drag leashes. With the latter, however, you should make sure that it has a handle at the end. You should always hold the handle in your hand or attach it somewhere. Otherwise your cat will quickly escape with the leash.
Some cats immediately enjoy experiencing nature on a leash, for others it’s just stress. We will give you some tips that will make it easier for you to get your cat used to the harness.
First of all, not every cat is made to walk on a harness. Practice slowly and give her enough time to get used to this, mostly completely new experience. And if it doesn’t work out, accept it and don’t force your cat to do anything it doesn’t want to do.
Start training at home. This way your cat can get used to the harness in a familiar environment. Pull the harness over your cat’s head and away again. Make sure that you pull the harness away again and not your cat’s head. Feel free to reward with a clicker or treats. Repeat this exercise regularly, making a ritual of it and slowly increasing the exercise until you can put the harness all the way on and close it. Once you can put the harness on her, it’s time for small walks in the house or in the garden. Gradually increase the exercise time. First, choose a place where it’s quiet and you can’t meet any dogs. Let your cat decide where you go. Step by step you can extend your walks. Do not expect your cat to become an obedient dog on the leash. Cats hunt on their own and do only what they want.
If the workout doesn’t work one day, it’s best to take a step back. Do an exercise that works and end the workout with a small success. Don’t be frustrated if the workout takes longer than you would like.
The first walk
The important thing is that you don’t do too long hikes. At the beginning, 15 – 20 minutes at a time is perfectly sufficient. You can extend the time steadily. Plan small breaks during longer trips and don’t forget to provide your cat with enough liquid. The perfect resting place for your cat is a cat backpack. You can also store all your equipment in it. For the first tours, quiet paths are especially suitable, on which you ideally meet no other animals and as few people as possible.
Once you’ve gotten your cat used to a harness and leash, you’re ready for your first adventure!