5 Steps For Teaching Your Cat To Walk On A Harness

By K B [CC BY 2.0 (httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By K B [CC BY 2.0 (httpcreativecommons.orglicensesby2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Cats Need Exercise

Animal professionals, veterinarians, and rescue workers agree that cats belong indoors and need to be kept from going outside. There are many health and safety concerns associated with cats being outdoors. However, cats are natural born hunters and stalkers, and this activity also provides the cat with exercise. While indoors, you need to provide the exercise, and one of them can be going for a walk together.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney is a veterinarian, certified veterinary acupuncturist, and founder of California PetAcupuncture and Wellness (CPAW), Inc., a Los Angeles-based, concierge, holistic, house-call veterinary practice. He says, “Just like dogs, cats require exercise to help maintain a slim body condition, promote weight loss, or ensure that muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints function properly. Sedentary cats are prone to a variety of health problems, so getting your feline friend up and moving either inside or outside your home can become a daily or more frequent routine.”

Microchip Your Cat  Before Heading Outdoors

Kristen Hammett, D.V.M., President-Elect, North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association (NCMA), reminds cat parents to have cats microchipped, “so that should the unimaginable happen and he/she escape from you, that there is a much greater chance of reunion if your kitty is chipped. On a side note, even indoor cats should be microchipped. All cats can escape. One of my clients’ indoor cats escaped and turned up four years later at the local animal shelter, and was saved from euthanasia due to the presence of a microchip!”

How To Teach Your Cat To Walk On A Leash

The first thing you needed to do is buy a harness or a vest that you can attach a leash to. Don’t try to use a collar, as this will not be safe for a cat. Most cats can easily free themselves from a collar if they choose to. A harness or vest puts less stress on the cat and keeps them secure. Some cats will learn quickly to walk on a leash if you start when they are very young.

Let your cat take her time getting familiar with the harness or vest. Start by introducing her to the harness. Leave it where she will find it. Use treats and verbal praise to encourage her to get comfortable with the apparatus. After a few days, see if you can get her to try it on. Continue verbal praises and treats. Do this before her feeding time, not after.

Be sure that the harness or vest fits comfortably with at least the room of two fingers between the harness and your cat’s body.

Let your cat get comfortable wearing the vest around the house. Do this every day until the cat is comfortable and walks easily around the house. You will know if she is confident and in control. Walk her, with the leash attached, around the house at first. Then when she seems ready it’s time to venture outside.

Stick close to your house for the first walk. Let her slowly explorer and get comfortable in the new surroundings.

Caution: Never leave her outside without you and never tie her up outside. If your cat doesn’t like the collar, harness, vest, or going outdoors, don’t force it. She will let you know how she feels.

Before long you and your cat could be taking walks together!


Nicky LaMarco has been a freelance writer since 2001. Nicky is an experienced ghostwriter and copywriter. She also writes for a variety of magazines. Nicky lives in Maine with her husband, two daughters, and two cats. Learn more about her at www.nickylamarco.com.