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How to Train Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

An indoor cat doesn’t need to miss out on all the outdoor fun! Training your cat to walk on a leash is a great way to safely take them outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery.

While a puppy may learn to walk on a leash in a matter of days, a cat might not be so keen on the idea. That’s why we’ve put together this guide so you can learn how to train your cat to walk on a leash. Follow the steps below to leash train your cat:

gray cat looking out the Endura Flap pet door for sash windows

Step 1: Get Acclimated with the Harness.

The first step in training your cat to walk on a leash is introducing them to the harness. To get your cat used to the smell, try spraying some catnip oil on the harness to entice your cat to come closer for a sniff. Instead of placing it right in front of your cat, leave it nearby so they can check it on their own terms

Tip: If possible, introduce your cat to their harness as a kitten so they get used to the idea right away. Cats like routine, and throwing a leash on and dragging them outside after they’ve grown up indoors might prove to be too much for them.

Step 2: Add the Leash into the Mix.

Once your cat is used to the look, feel, and smell of the harness, try attaching the leash. Clip it on and off a couple times without tugging or applying pressure. Each time, reward them with a pet or their favorite treat until they are comfortable.

Step 3: Practice Walking Indoors.

Attach the harness and leash and try walking your cat through the house. You can encourage them forward with a toy or a treat until they get used to the feel of walking in the harness. Make sure to let them move on their own terms and use lots of positive reinforcement.

gray cat sitting by Endura Flap cat door insert for sash windows

Step 4: Head Outside!

Once your cat is a pro at walking on the leash inside, it’s time to head outdoors. Move slow and start with a small area of your yard, gradually working up to new places if they seem to enjoy it.

If you plan to venture on beyond your own backyard—perhaps around the neighborhood or to a friend’s house—it’s important to be prepared and know how to prevent aggression between cats should you encounter another adventurous outdoor kitty.

Keep in mind that walking on a leash might not work for every cat. Make sure not to force anything if your cat seems stressed or unhappy about the idea of venturing outside.

If you find your cat is loving the outdoor time and want to give them unlimited access, consider installing a cat door. Cat doors are a great way to allow your cat the freedom to come and go as they please. Leash training is a great way to get your cat acclimated to the outdoors before installing a cat door.

the Sureflap electronic microchip pet door installed into a wall

If you’re worried about letting neighborhood critters inside, an electronic pet door is a great option. The SureFlap Cat Door is the most popular electronic door. It senses your cat’s microchip to unlock and let them—and only them—inside. Check out our list of the Best Cat Doors to see some more great options.

See our guide on how to train a cat to use a cat door for some tips and tricks. If you’d prefer to stick to a leash, check out our recommendations for keeping an indoor cat from escaping.

Elizabeth Muenzen

Written by

Elizabeth Muenzen

Content Specialist
DOG PERSON🐶

Pets: My dog Benji is mixed Yorkie, Poodle, Chihuahua, and MaltiPom (YorkiPooChiMaltiPom?), yet he mysteriously bears no resemblance to any of these breeds.
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