The thought of getting most cats to do any trick they don’t spontaneously think of on their own is laughable to most owners, but walking your cat on a leash could be worth the struggle of training your cat. Outdoor walks can help your cat maintain a healthy weight, provide mental stimulation (think: bird!), and build confidence. Here’s how to make the experience fun for both of you.
1) Start inside your home.
Before you head for the door, give you cat time to get used to the idea of a leash and harness. In fact, it might be best to just start with the harness. Allow them to smell and play with it, then get to the point through pets or training treats where your cat is comfortable wearing a harness and walking around on their own. Then, introduce the leash slowly but don’t over exert pressure to correct their movements. Allow them to wander and explore the house before subtly guiding them to where you want to go.
2) Go somewhere relaxed.
When you do venture outside, don’t start on the busiest street in your neighborhood. You want to make sure your cat’s first experience isn’t too noisy or overwhelming, so a quiet park or your backyard should be their first stomping ground. Try to avoid areas that dog walkers frequent to avoid an aggressive encounter. Don’t expect them to walk next to your side like a dog, and give them time to sniff, climb, and explore.
3) Reward progress.
Training treats are great to have on hand when you start walking your cat outside. Reward progress down the block or across the park with a low calorie treat that won’t undo the benefits of exercise.