Spring is here, and why should dogs get to have all the outdoor fun? These days it’s common knowledge that it’s safer to keep your feline companion indoors, but there’s no reason your cat can’t do a little exploring outside with the proper apparel.
At Cosmopawlitan you’ll find a variety of cat harnesses (and leashes) because we love to see owners getting outdoors in a safe way with their meowing pals. Here are the most important things to remember when harness and leash training your kitty friend:
1. Get the right harness. Bear in mind that cats are escape artists. To make sure your cat can’t wriggle out of the harness and away from safety, get a proper “H” shaped harness and make sure it’s snug enough. To test this, you should be able to fit two fingers between their body and the harness. Naturally you can find this type of harness at Cosmo!
2. Go S-L-O-W-L-Y! I cannot stress this one enough. Let your cat see, sniff and play around with the harness for a few days so he/she gets the feel of it before you try putting it on. When you do put it on for the first time, be gentle and take your time. Try to distract your cat with toys or treats and only buckle it up if you’re not met with extreme resistance. Some resistance is normal. Your goal during this first process is to ease them into wearing the harness for a short time each day.
3. Through the whole process, use treats, toys and positive reassurance to make the experience a good one. When your cat appears relaxed while walking around the house with her new harness, it’s time to attach the (lightweight) leash. There’s no need to hold on to it yet, just let it drag behind her as she walks. Keep her mind occupied with a little bit of bribery and when she seems to be ignoring the leash, take hold and get ready to follow your kitty around the house.
4. Remember that walking a cat is not like walking a dog. You’ll be doing more walking alongside than leading. Just let your cat explore and sniff to her heart’s content. Follow along behind her with some slack on the leash and the two of you will have a great time.
5. Be safe. Your fenced in backyard is the best place for your kitty to wander, but barring that, a quiet, dog-free, grassy area close to your home is second best. And don’t forget to make sure your cat is up to date with all of her shots. Keep a close eye on her too, dogs aren’t the only ones who like to gobble up things they find on the ground!
6. Don’t force the outside world on your cat if they truly are excessively frightened. As much as you might think your cat is dying to get outdoors or constantly fawn over how cute she looks wearing her harness and leash, it’s pretty easy to tell if she’s happy with the idea or not. If she is visibly terrified and clearly wants to get back inside, take her back inside.
It’s important to keep in mind that not all cats will take to the harness and leash for various reasons, some are just too intimidated of the outdoors due to growing up inside and some just never get comfortable wearing the gear. Don’t get frustrated, if your cat is happy indoors then you should be too!