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Train Your Cat to Walk in a Harness (A Painless How to Guide)

Going outside can be risky for your cat. This guide will show you how to painlessly train your cat to walk in a harness so they can go outside and have a safe and awesome experience.

Our cats get bored when they spend most of their time indoors. Unfortunately, letting your cat go outside on their own without some type of enclosed catio can be risky and problematic for your cat. It’s your job to make going outside a safe and awesome experience for your feline friend. Therein comes the need to train your cat to walk in a harness. Every cat behaves differently to the idea of harness training. If your cat is curious to explore the outdoor environment, you can safely take her for a walk using a harness. Most pet owners find harness training very tough and that’s why this article is for you. We’ll show you how to train your cat to walk in a harness as painless for you and her as possible.

Why is a cat harness important?

Every cat loves being outside, lying on the grass enjoying the sun. Walking in a harness is important because free-roaming can be risky at times. You need to protect her from the traffic, other animals, or being stolen when she is out for a walk, and for that, the use of a harness becomes absolutely necessary.

How to choose the right cat harness?

When purchasing a harness for your cat, make sure the harness material is comfortable. She should walk comfortably in the harness with no restriction on the movement. There should be one finger gap between the harness and your cat’s body. Always select the harness that fits comfortably to your cat. You can also measure your cat to get the right harness size for her.Here’s a great resource that will show you how. 

13 easy steps to teach your cat to walk in a harness:

These 13 easy and effective steps will help to train your cat to walk on a harness with peace and comfort. Let’s discuss them one by one.

1. Familiarize your cat with a harness:

You can start harness training for your cat early because an adult cat will take much more time to become comfortable wearing a harness. Introduce a harness to your cat and give her time to feel and move around it. She will learn about this new thing and make it a positive experience. The good idea is to throw the harness along with your kitty’s toys so that she may find it safe. You can place the harness on the ground near your cat and let her sniff it. She will be familiar with its sound, feel, and smell.

2. Understand the behavior of a cat:

Once you have introduced the harness to your cat, you have to pay attention to how she reacts to this new thing around her neck. Some cats quickly get comfortable and show a positive reaction, while others refuse to go along with the harness. Always give your cat enough time to get familiar and comfortable with this new object to form a positive association with it.

3. Positive reinforcement of your cat:

Once your cat has learned that harness is a good thing for her, it is the right time to offer her yummy and delicious treats. With that, she will understand that harness training is a fun-loving experience. She will show more interest and consistency in harness training to get her favorite treat.

4. Creating a positive association of your cat with the harness:

You have to create a positive association between  your cat and the harness when you are inside the house. The act of rewarding your cat with a treat whenever she approaches the harness can create a positive association with your cat. Apart from using treats, you can go for anything that your cat loves. Once she is positively associated with the harness, she will learn to love it.

5. Teach her to put on the harness:

Once your cat is comfortable with the harness, put it on your cat only for a short period every day. Putting on a harness is usually an unpleasant experience for a cat. Compel her to put on the harness on her own. Her previous experience will convince your cat to put on the harness because she will be rewarded with a treat afterward.

6. Begin with a short session:

Start with a short period when inside the house and gradually increase the time afterward. However, it depends on your cat because if she finds putting on a harness a pleasing and enjoyable experience, you can increase the time from the beginning. You have to be patient throughout the harness training because this slow learning process will lead to a big achievement in the future.

7. Attach the lead:

When your cat is comfortable walking inside the house with her harness on, then it is time to attach a lead. Continue her training with the lead attached to the harness. Some cats don’t like the idea of following them. Hold the harness lead loosely and once she gets accustomed, gently apply the pressure on the lead. Repeat this entire activity and reward her with lots of treats.

8. Practice in the house:

Begin your cats harness training indoors. Practice her walking around your home. If you find her happy and relaxed, this means that she finds herself safe while wearing a harness. Boost her confidence with reinforcement opportunities when you are inside the house.

9. Practice outdoor:

Now it is the time to go for outdoor training with your feline friend. Give her a chance to take the lead because, with that, she will get an opportunity to explore the new environment. You have to be cautious throughout the outdoor harness training. It is a good idea to call your cat by her name when she is out. Once she becomes comfortable, adjust the harness according to her body and continue rewarding her.

10. Choose a safe place:

I recommend you choose a safe place to explore her new environment safely. She will take some time to feel safe and comfortable with this new environment. Avoid going to a crowded place for the first time; otherwise, she will get scared.

11. Increase the distance gradually:

When you find your cat enjoying the outdoor environment with a harness, you should gradually increase the distance. Be careful that you don’t try to do too much too fast. Give her time. It will take lots of practice to get your cat to comfortably walk in her new harness over longer distances. 

12. Introduce them to a new location:

Once your cat is trained for one location during her harness training, you can introduce a new location. In this way, your cat will slowly explore this new environment and adapt to it. This time the place should be a little busier than the previous one. Let her be comfortable with this new spot. It is to give more confidence to your cat during her harness training.

13. Teach her to remove the harness:

The final step is to teach your cat to remove the harness. Offer her treats and slowly take off the harness. She will learn that taking off the harness rewards her with plenty of treats. In this way, she will remove the harness by herself to enjoy her treat afterward.

Final words:

When your cat becomes bored from the indoor environment, you can plan her trip outdoors only when she is harness trained. Being a pet owner, you should know that a harness is a great choice for your cat to take her for a walk safely. I am sure your cat will enjoy the outdoor adventure when learning to walk with a harness on.

CoolKittyCondos is a cat lifestyle site dedicated to enhancing the physical and mental well being of our feline friends.

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