5 min.

Train your cat to walk on a leash

Spring is finally on our doorstep! But this long-awaited return of warm weather brings up questions among cat owners. At the top of the list, the age-old question: “Should I let my cat go outside?”

Far from being innocuous, this decision can lead to serious consequences. In fact, allowing your cat to go out freely can pose significant risks to his health and safety. On the other hand, having access to the courtyard is also an incredible source of stimulation.

What if it was possible to reconcile the safety of the cat and his pleasure to explore the garden?

Train your cat to walk on a leash

That’s right! Walking on a leash is not just for dogs. On the contrary! It’s quite possible to teach a cat to walk on a leash with a harness. The key to success is to go step by step.

To avoid serious accidents, it is essential to choose the right harness, make sure it fits perfectly on your cat (you must be able to slide a finger between his body and the harness), always supervise your cat when he wears a harness, and hold the leash in your hand at all times during his outings.

Start training inside the house. Begin by showing your cat the harness and let him sniff it. Introduce him to the harness and give him treats. The key here is making a positive association with the harness. Over the next few days, repeat this process several times, such as by offering him treats but having him pass his head through the harness without strapping it on him. Once he is used to the harness, clip it on well, while rewarding your cat generously. You can even grab a toy and play with your cat. Repeat this step a few times. Optionally, hang the leash at the end of the harness, treats in hand of course, and use it in the house for 5-to-10-minute sessions a few times a day.

Let your cat lead

The important thing is to respect your cat’s rhythm… and offer him a lot of treats! After all, the process must be enjoyable for both him and you! This way, your cat will gradually get used to the harness and the leash.

When the time comes to go outside, carry your harnessed cat, ideally in his carrier, outside in a very quiet environment where there are no cars or passers-by. Over time, you can let him expand his range of exploration. Only when your cat walks tall with his tail high and shows no signs of stress should you consider taking it a little further. Always keep to your cat’s own pace. Never force him to go further if he seems stressed. It often takes longer at the beginning, and each time you introduce them to something new. Whenever you know that he’ll be seeing something he’s ever seen before, reward him abundantly and in no time you’ll see him associate the outings with pleasant times.

Here’s a tip: Always go outside with your cat in your arms/his carrier; otherwise he might get used to going out whenever he wants to, even without a harness.

Finally, make sure you bring fresh water, especially if it’s hot outside.

Build a “catio”

Walking on a leash isn’t for every cats. No matter! Why not build an outdoor enclosure specially designed for cats? These feline patios represent a perfect compromise combining safety and fun. You can do it yourself or ask professionals.

The design of the living environment inside the enclosure is a captivating activity for cat lovers! Remember to include places for rest or observation from a height, tree stumps, areas of sun and shade as well as multiple toys. Make sure, however, that there is no chance for escape and that the enclosure is not at ground level, to avoid encounters with wild animals.

Enrich the living environment

If none of these options is possible, then it is essential to enrich your house environment for your cat to compensate for its potential boredom. A cat in captivity must have access to a good cat tree, a suitable scratching post, interactive bowls, windows to look outside, many hiding places, etc. Active play sessions are also a must every day. In short, there are many ways to satisfy your favorite feline’s needs in a safe environment.

No matter which solution you choose, it is important to regularly make an appointment with your veterinarian so that your cat can receive the care appropriate to his living conditions. This will bring you peace of mind and let you enjoy happy moments with your protege… whether your cat joins you on outdoor adventures or stays comfortable in your home!